URGENT: As 20 Residents Test Positive, Marpe Declares Civil Preparedness Emergency; All Restaurant Closed Inside; Other Closures Announced Too

1st Selectman Jim Marpe has announced that under the powers granted by Connecticut General Statute 28-8a and Westport’s Emergency Preparedness Ordinance, Chapter 26, Article III, he has declared a Local Civil Preparedness Emergency.  

The statute and ordinance allow for this declaration in the event of a local emergency creating a risk of severe hazards to life, welfare or property of the town of Westport or its residents, and includes any public health crisis occurring in or adversely affecting the town. The 1st Selectman says:

As of 8 p.m. today (Monday, March 16) the following will remain in effect until further notice:

  • All restaurants, including bars, delicatessens and other locations where food and/or beverages are prepared for on-premises consumption, are prohibited from all in-restaurant and outside service. No customers are allowed inside a restaurant. Delivery of food and beverages and curb-side pick-up of food and beverages is permitted, subject to all existing laws. This prohibition does not apply to cafeterias where employers provide meals exclusively for employees and residents/patients.
  • All commercial gyms and fitness centers shall be closed.
  • All nail and hair salons and barber shops shall serve by appointment only.
  • There shall be no social or other gatherings of any sort at the Inn at Longshore.

The onset of the COVID-19 virus has introduced a public health crisis to Westport. Westport Weston Public Health Department director Mark Cooper says that of the 31 Westport residents recently tested for the presence of the COVID-19 virus, 20 tested positive.  This confirms that the virus has developed a significant presence in our community, and highlights the need to take a much more aggressive action to limit the spread of the virus through social contact.

First Selectman Jim Marpe (left) and Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper.

There have been repeated calls by the town and Health District for residents to socially isolate or distance themselves in order to “flatten the curve” of the virus spread. Nevertheless, many instances and opportunities to gather in groups and to further spread the virus remain.

Marpe adds, “I want to thank our residents, the public and private schools and all the local organizations, houses of worship, businesses and other groups that have worked to fulfill the previous request to not gather in groups. Unfortunately, based on the advice of Health director Mark Cooper and other public health experts, I concluded that the town must take additional steps under the LCPE to reduce any group gatherings and minimize social contact.

“We support and encourage local restaurant curb-side pick-up and direct delivery of food at this time. We recognize the financial and operational hardships that this introduces to the businesses and employees as well as the inconvenience to their customers. This decision has not been taken lightly, but is nevertheless demanded because of the risks of the current COVID-19 public health crisis. We encourage all residents to patronize any businesses that remain open under required conditions. Westport is committed to promoting the patronage of these businesses as much as possible.”

“Here are ways to follow the town news:

“We urge you to be vigilant, stay at home, and stay informed.”

47 responses to “URGENT: As 20 Residents Test Positive, Marpe Declares Civil Preparedness Emergency; All Restaurant Closed Inside; Other Closures Announced Too

  1. What does this mean for supermarkets? In particular, Trader Joe’s, Stop& Shop, Stew Leonards, and Whole Foods?

    • they should stop serving food / allowing consumption on premises. other than that, they are open for business. i think most places closed hot bars / salad bars last week. if they havent yet, i would touch with a 10 foot pole.

      • Wendy Cusick

        Josh, employees and managers are constantly patrolling the hot and cold bar at Stew Leonard’s and Whole Foods. They’re wiping it down and replacing trays of food plus many cameras are on the bar too.
        Stop and Shop shut they’re cold bar and wing bar down.

        • cameras do nothing. if coronavirus is airborne, wiping down and replacing doesnt do much because it can be contaminated a second later. i didnt know stew’s hot bar was still open. they should shut it down asap.

          • Wendy Cusick

            Stew Leonard’s is providing a service for as long as possible with the Health Department’s approval.
            Many from various economic and age situations rely on this bar for warm food, soup and healthy salads to feed themselves. Especially now with so many places not going to be open. Many don’t have a car to pickup curb side or they have a very small place to sleep but not cook. They rely on the Wheels and Coastal bus to get around.
            You have to learn to see things from a very drastic economic stand point to understand why certain things are in place. Management and the Health Department are monitoring the situation.

      • Wendy Cusick

        Josh. I just stopped in to shop at Stew’s and it’s official now.
        No more salad bar.
        It’s now only prepacked containers by weight on the hot and cold bar.

        • thank you for the update! how was stock/inventory looking at stews?

        • Wendy Cusick

          They’re restocking. Milk truck just arrived. There’s meat out. Produce trucks came too. I’m like Wow! Impressive!
          Update on the salad bar I forgot something and had to double back. There are many customers wishing to purchase hot and cold salad bar food they discontinued the prepacked containers and have employees and managers back patrolling the bar. They couldn’t pack fast enough the food customers wanted.
          So I got what I forgot and will help support the salad bar and purchased food right off the bar.
          Come on down. The employees are doing a fantastic job and the cashiers are moving everyone out quickly.
          I over hear conversations from other customers thanking the cashiers for all their hardwork and compliment all the employees on the selling floor restocking the shelves.

  2. John McCarthy

    Wow….”…of the 31 Westport residents recently tested for the presence of the COVID-19 virus, 20 tested positive.”

  3. Ellen Greenberg

    I wonder how many of these were at “the party”. I am not placing blame, but curious if the disease is spreading more through close contact or unknown community sources.

    • Ellen Greenberg

      Let me rephrase. I wonder how many of the Westport cases can be attributed to direct contact with an infected person and how many cases are “community” acquired.

      • Allison Adler

        Yes, great question. How do we find out?

      • David Coleman

        Based on numbers of guests and tests, I think we can assume that these tests are of the party guests. So we haven’t even gotten to testing the people they’ve been in contact with since then, or their second-degree connections.

      • Heidi Castellani

        I’m sorry you were put in that situation. Awful. When did the party take place and what point did guests find out this person was in fact positive?

      • Wow thank you for sharing , please consider contacting the Wwhd and CT Dept of health with the info. Also feel free to name this hostess, she might deserve the bad press if intentionally lying…

    • if its airborne and survives for hours in the air, which several academic papers have said (awaiting peer review), you could walk into stop & shop and someone just breathed there an hour ago, and potentially catch it.

  4. Neighbors – the transmission rate of this virus is shocking and has been all along, whether we’ve paid attention or not. The virus does not care what race, creed, or class we are, or if we attended a party. It’s here. Practice self-quarantine immediately. Continue thorough and vigilant hygiene for yourself and your home. Be alert, and be kind – this is literally all humans versus a virus now. May we each rise to this occasion and stay strong.

    • Adrian J Little

      So defying the no parking ban on Sunday looks like a really bad idea now.
      Selfish entitled arrogant people-
      We need to now see the best of Westport not the worst.

  5. Larry Weisman

    Does anyone understand why movie theaters (of course there are none in Westport) are allowed to stay open? Seems like a bad idea to me.

    • John McCarthy

      From WFSB:

      Certain businesses told to close at 8 p.m. Monday

      During a Monday morning conference call with the governors of New York and New Jersey, Gov. Ned Lamont made a decision to close several businesses at 8 p.m. The businesses include gyms, restaurants, bars and movie theaters. Connecticut’s casinos, which are considered sovereign nations, were asked to follow suit.

      • Irene Mastriacovo

        Would Physical Therapy facilities be considered a “gym”?

        • Heidi Castellani

          I would think PT would fall under medical not recreational. Call your office though.

  6. Larry Weisman

    Does anyone understand why movie theaters, in neighboring towns but serving Westport, are allowed to remain open? Seems like a really bad idea to me.

    • Adrian J Little

      So defying the no parking ban on Sunday looks like a really bad idea now.
      Selfish entitled arrogant people-
      We need to now see the best of Westport not the worst.

    • Not per the announcements of the governors of NY, NJ, and CT. It was possibly still the case last night, but no longer.

  7. Matthew Mandell

    The Chamber is working on a list of Restaurants offering Take out and curbside pickup. Please tell your favorite place to fill out this form so we can accomplish this. Thanks.


  8. Nathan Gordon


    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Carole Chinn

    When will be be getting more tests in and how will we know they are here? Any more news on Yale’s progress and if we can get some of those test?


    Should we be prioritizing that next layer of symptomatic contacts who had contacts with attendees at the party to help stem the spread? I do not understand why it is so hard for WWHD to ask those families who attended to list their schools and classes and have the BOE notify those teachers and families so that if they are symptomatic they can get priority (in addition to asking them to do their own contact tracing.) 40 people could mean 10 families. We probably get way more anonymous notifications for lice and flu.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      On NPR this morning, it was reported that the state is reserving it’s testing for residents who are sick enough to be hospitalized. Quest is offering testing, but it requires a doctor’s screen and order. (They aren’t collecting the samples. I got an email from Quest stating the same.)

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Also, they’ve already said that we have to assume that there’s so many cross exposures at this point, that it’s not time or cost effective to do contact tracing. Assume you and your family have been exposed, and act accordingly.

  10. I am very hesitant to eat anything prepared by someone else. I stocked up on a freezer-full of frozen meals and entrees from Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop. They’re surprisingly good — not like the old TV dinners of years ago. I hate to see restaurants incur hardships, but being “of a certain age,” I feel it’s prudent to do so.

  11. David Coleman

    if 2/3s of the tests were positive, then there are HUNDREDS of people in Westport with the virus who haven’t been tested. Assume that everyone has it and please, please, please stay home.

    • Exactly this. Everyone should be staying home. We are going to be facing months and months of quarantining if everyone doesn’t get their act together for the safety of the community as a whole.

  12. Great work, Jim Marpe. Thank you for your excellent leadership. Stay well!

    • Diane Johnson

      I agree; thank you, Jim Marpe for making the hard decisions, for your leadership, and all your efforts to keep us safe.

      • The governor announced virtually all of these last night. Jim is just passing on the news.

        • Diane Johnson

          Correct, however, my comment is not just about these specific decisions, I’m referring to everything he’s done these past few weeks. My comment bears repeating:
          Thank you, Jim Marpe, for making the hard decisions, for your leadership, and for all your efforts to keep us safe. It can’t be easy!

  13. Bob Weingarten

    to Larry:
    Just received this message from Bow Tie Cinemas, so you need not worry.

    “Effective Monday, March 16th, all Bow Tie Cinemas locations in all states will temporarily close.”

  14. And in neighboring Fairfield —
    Fairfield Parks, Beaches, Open Spaces and more CLOSED. Town Offices closed tomorrow, 3/17 through Thurs 3/19.

    Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick announced today all public parks, beaches and facilities including Lake Mohegan Trails, Cascades, all public open recreational spaces, the public golf courses, will be closed effective today.

  15. Bruce G Schneider

    Can anyone explain why all nail and hair salons and barber shops aren’t closed?

    • It is odd. Why would people with appointments be less likely to be infected?

    • Deb Rosenfield

      Probably a throwback to medieval times when barbers were barber-surgeons. 🙂 From Wikipedia: “A barber surgeon was a person who could perform minor surgical procedures such as bloodletting, cupping therapy or pulling teeth. Barbers could also bathe, cut hair, shave or trim facial hair, and give enemas. The surgeon came with the army at war but could be used by individuals in peacetime”

  16. Tom Feeley Sr

    Duh‼️😂Hi Chris
    Maybe because people who make appointments tend to wash their hands more frequently⁉️👻🇺🇸

  17. I don’t like to blame either, but having birthday party with 200-250 during a pandemic , with a virus which no scientist has seen before was selfish and wrong decision… increased contagibilty , put westporters at a greater risk . not the smartest choice to have the guest fly far from another country. Please everyone, don’t congregate now…