Ganim aide urges vaccinations after "mild" COVID-19 infection

BRIDGEPORT — Danny Roach thought he just had “a mild cold” when he started to feel sick the last weekend of July.

A few days later, though, the well-known mayoral aide, long-time Democratic insider and bar owner was diagnosed with COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated.

“I needed to be tested for a medical procedure,” Roach, 60, said Thursday. “The doctor came out, asked me how I was feeling, said, ‘You know, you tested positive.’”

Two weeks later, having quarantined and recuperated, Roach wanted to publicly recount his experience to convince others who have been hesitant to get inoculated to do so. His story is not a dramatic one, which is his point.

“He (the doctor) said, ‘It’s a good thing you were vaccinated. Don’t expect anything severe,” Roach recalled. “The symptoms were light. I certainly have had bouts with the flu 10 times worse.”

He also said that neither his wife, his son nor individuals he had close contact with in the days prior to his diagnosis tested positive.

Vaccine hesitancy has helped result in the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant across the nation after it initially appeared the pandemic was winding down. In response, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, while shying away from re-instituting statewide mandates to keep the illness at bay, late last week allowed municipalities to do so.

On Tuesday Roach’s boss, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim, announced unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals would be required to again don masks indoors in public places like stores and restaurants.

Roach, who lives in the Black Rock neighborhood, is a veteran of Bridgeport politics who has managed or otherwise been closely involved in numerous campaigns, currently works as an aide to Ganim, has been a long-time police commission member and also owns Matty’s Corner bar.

He said he has no idea where he may have contracted COVID in July, but acknowledged once he received his two shots of Moderna — one of the three available vaccines — he “was leading a somewhat normal life,” going mask-less and getting out.

Dr. Ulysses Wu is chief epidemiologist for Hartford HealthCare, which owns St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.

“A lot of (COVID) cases are mild. But we do know your chances of surviving COVID are much greater when vaccinated,” Wu said.

He noted that while there has been a lot of focus in the media on “breakthrough” infections of the fully-vaccinated like Roach, the inoculations were never intended to absolutely prevent illness.

“The main purpose is to take a potentially deadly disease and turn it into a normal one i.e. the common cold,” Wu said. “The key is not to look at the number of (breakthrough) cases, but the number of deaths. And the deaths are 99 percent unvaccinated. It’s better if you’re vaccinated.”