Health District Strongly Discourages Even Small Gatherings

Here is the latest advisory from the Westport Weston Health District:

It has come to the attention of the WWHD that with school and other closings, people are planning social gatherings and other activities.

The intent of closing schools, business offices and other places people congregate is to prevent, or at least slow down, the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19.

School and other cancellations should not be viewed as a holiday and a time for partying and celebration. They are closed to facilitate voluntary social isolation, which is an important tool in lowering the chance of exposure to an infectious disease.

What we have learned so far about COVID-19 is that it is highly transmissible even in small groups. One does not have to “hug and kiss” to become infected. Just talking to someone who is infected, in close proximity — even someone without outward symptoms — can get one infected. It is already happening in our community.

Now that COVID-19 is in the community you should assume that it is just about everywhere, because it most likely is.

Social gatherings, large and small, are discouraged until the virus has run its course. Those who continue to congregate without appropriate personal protective  equipment and do not diligently practice the simple protective measures of washing hands, etc., are the ones who will be getting sick.

The COVID-19 virus is everywhwere.

13 responses to “Health District Strongly Discourages Even Small Gatherings

  1. Yesterday’s post from Mark Cooper, director of health for Westport Weston Health District was “We need society to keep going. We can’t prohibit everything…… If someone is healthy, there should be no problem associating with a few others who are healthy.” ???

    • Diane Johnson

      With negligent lack of testing in this country, we have absolutely no idea how many asymptomatic people are unknowingly spreading COVID 19. Heed this good advice from our Health District; assume it is everywhere. Do your part to minimize spread and attempt to Flatten the Curve. Our health system may soon be completely overwhelmed as it is in Italy. Read up on what’s going on there right now. We should all remain calm, employ strict social distancing, and do what we can now to mitigate the spread. Why take a chance? We may well look back on these past few months and wonder what in the world we were thinking taking it all so lackadaisically. I for one am thrilled Westport’s leadership is taking this seriously. Even though our friends and we may not be exhibiting symptoms, we may well be contributing to the spread. Hunker in and help Flatten The Curve.

      • Diane – I’m just pointing out the point that our health dept basically said the opposite yesterday….e.g. it’s fine to get together in small groups if your ‘healthy’.

        • Diane Johnson

          I know! I meant for my comment to be a general comment and not a direct reply to yours. Sorry about that. I completely agree with frustrations over mixed messaging. I think our local leaders are still figuring this out! I concur with everyone saying we should now begin strict social distancing. Flatten the Curve!! 🎯

  2. Patrick Eastin

    In my opinion Mr. Cooper’s declaration is irresponsible. I am not aware of a plan of action moving forward to “prohibit everything”.

  3. Dan,

    Thanks for sending this — but you must realize it is the exact opposite of what Mark Cooper said in your blog just yesterday!! I was appalled at how he reassured people that they needn’t be too worried. Our family has been doing much more than what he suggested.

    Stay well, Amy Bedi



    Dan, Have you read this?

    Seems to be the best factual data to date and a clear warning to Act Now re the virus

  5. Debbie O'Malley

    So frustrating that this completely contradicts his advice from yesterday (which we did not take), saying it was ok to get together in small groups as long as everyone appeared well. The messaging has been terrible. They should release a text on the nixle system so that people comprehend interaction of any kind is really increasing risk for everyone.

    • John F. Suggs

      Cooper needs to acknowledge that he gave out a wrong and potentially harmful advisory yesterday as part of his “update” today. It was inexcusable when he said it and it is even more inexcusable that he is not walking it back directly and specifically now. Instead he appears to be weakly ignoring his mistake yesterday and hoping that his new comments will somehow erase them. They wont. He needs to first own the fact that he gave out seriously wrong advice. We can accept a health director who makes a mistake but not one who refuses to publicly acknowledge it once it is pointed out to him. Just blithely issuing a new and completely opposite statement one day later doesn’t correct the damage.

  6. Part of the issue is that we haven’t had transparency over the schools/classes of attendees of the party who were in direct contact with those who were exposed. Therefore, there probably are some who are planning playdates and small gatherings, not realizing that they are only two degrees away from the 1st person who tested positive and left the country. Now they may only be one degree away since we’ve reported our first resident case. I think this was a highly responsible message now that we have more information.

    I also believe that those at the party need to tell their schools about their exposure if they haven’t done so already. They should also mention extracurriculars at that school that they or their kids attended. People should forget blame. The schools really need to inform classes of kids that were there that they might have been exposed second degree. Schools also should inform members of the extracurriculars that had exposure.  Then this info can be used in the prioritization. Schools tend to wait for confirmation before issuing info on lice, flu and now COVID. However, in this case, I think we should be erring on the side of caution to prevent spread. Schools should be informing people of possible exposure rather than waiting so many days for WWHD to track people down and test then and then send out notification.

    While the Dept of Health can’t contact trace completely at this point because of the magnitude. Those affected can reach out to those they’ve had contact with and so forth. Think of how much of a multiplier effect we, as individuals and a community, have in fighting COVID-19, flu or other illness. We shouldn’t give up and say it’s everywhere. There needs to be swifter transparency and social responsibility. I fear some are still arranging playdates and gathering in small groups not realizing that they might have been one and two degrees exposed. I believe people act differently if they know they have a traceable connection. For me, a two week self-quarantine isn’t that much to ask given what is at risk.

    • Werner Liepolt

      Uh oh! Did I naively assume that the Westport Health District was tracing all contacts to those infected? Wouldn’t they be equipped and as ready to do this as they would with STD’s?

  7. The Atlantic had a decent article yesterday on what constitutes effective social distancing.

  8. Wendy Cusick

    Westport’s Saugatuck train station parking lot (Ferry and Charles sides) very empty.
    Compo Beach packed
    Soundview Dr full of joggers, walkers (some with baby carriages and some with dogs), some just congregating and talking.
    It’s good to get some fresh air just don’t breath or sneeze on anyone close by.