NY Times Spotlights Westport: “Party Zero: How A Soiree In Connecticut Became A ‘Super Spreader'”

The New York Times has taken note — and told the world: Westport is ground zero for the coronavirus in Connecticut. 

In a long story posted late this afternoon — with the subhead “about 50 people gathered this month for a party in the upscale suburb of Westport, then scattered across the region and the world, taking the coronavirus with them” — Elizabeth Williamson and Kristen Hussey report on our town’s role in the pandemic.

Businesses have closed along Main Street in Westport, Conn., where a surge in coronavirus cases has been reported.

Businesses have closed along Main Street in Westport, Conn., where a surge in coronavirus cases has been reported. (Photo/Dave Sanders for The New York Times)

About 50 guests gathered on March 5 at a home in the stately suburb of Westport, Conn., to toast the hostess on her 40th birthday and greet old friends, including one visiting from South Africa. They shared reminiscences, a lavish buffet and, unknown to anyone, the coronavirus.

Then they scattered.

The Westport soirée — Party Zero in southwestern Connecticut and beyond — is a story of how, in the Gilded Age of money, social connectedness and air travel, a pandemic has spread at lightning speed. The partygoers — more than half of whom are now infected — left that evening for Johannesburg, New York City and other parts of Connecticut and the United States, all seeding infections on the way.

Westport, a town of 28,000 on the Long Island Sound, did not have a single known case of the coronavirus on the day of the party. It had 85 on Monday, up more than 40-fold in 11 days.

 

That’s the start. The story ends …

The first partygoer to be diagnosed passed word from Johannesburg to Westport that he had fully recovered and even planned to go for a jog.

“I don’t believe I’m the problem anymore,” he told The Sunday Times. “It seems that the real problem is now the people who are too scared to say anything. The problem is the ignorance of the public.”

(To read the story on the New York Times website, click here.)

86 responses to “NY Times Spotlights Westport: “Party Zero: How A Soiree In Connecticut Became A ‘Super Spreader'”

  1. Hoping nobody comments about this party again!! I wish you’d stop posting about iit Dan! All it does is instigate! Move on folks!!!!!

  2. There is no “social stigma” attached to Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson because they were infected – because they were forward, public, and self-quarantined. They were models for public behavior.

    The possible “social stigma” here is because, through their secrecy, residents (with the assistance of the First Selectman) have put the health of their neighbors at risk.

    Interesting comment about people (potentially) lying about attending the party in order to jump the line for testing. Is this being investigated and can it be prosecuted, as it directly impacts the health and welfare of the residents who get “bumped?” Or is that something else that town leaders would say “isn’t important now?”

    To be clear, this is not about “blame,” it is about the unwillingness of people to take responsibility for their actions.

    • Well said, Chris. By the way, the latest number of cases in Wspt SEEMS to be 74 according to state records, not the 85 the NYT reported. And not the 62 the Westport First Selectman reported earlier this evening. But then again, who knows?

    • Nancy Ippolito

      Very well said, Chris. I happened across the outside testing site at the WWHD held in early March and not knowing anything about this party, checked with the WWHD as to its purpose. I did not receive a response. Shortly afterwards, I noticed that they were only reporting Fairfield County numbers and not Westports. I wrote to the selectman’s office to inquire about how many cases we had and was told that numbers do not matter and assume you have it. Also tried Will Haskell and Senator Murphy on FB and finally the governor, no response from anyone.

      This was a cover up To the extent of the community spread. Our officials endangered not only the lives of Westport residents but also those outside our community who work here. At no point, was I ever interested in the individuals names, I was interested in protected those around me and getting the possibility of community spread out to the community. They failed us all.

    • Werner Liepolt

      And why has the same group of party throwers thrown another huge invite-the-neighborhood and ignore-social-distancing party this past weekend?

      • Morley Boyd

        I heard about that party. Any word on whether or not some of the same elected Westport officials attended as last time?

      • Jack Backiel

        No one would be that stupid to have TWO parties under these circumstances!

      • Bill Strittmatter

        Why is no one naming names? At this point, when everyone should know better, particularly people that were at the infamous party, why isn’t “social stigma” appropriate?

  3. Leslie Clarke

    Horrible reporting!

    Leslie Clarke
    Sales VP| Luxury Property Specialist
    #1 Single Agent, Westport|Weston|Norwalk 2019
    Top ½ of 1% of 1.4 million Agents in 2018
    Leslie Clarke Homes
    203.984.1856 cell
    http://www.leslieclarkehomes.com
    Licensed in CT and NY
    William Raveis Real Estate | 47 Riverside Ave. | Westport, CT 06880

  4. Jack Backiel

    Jodi, Dan isn’t doing anything wrong posting this on his blog because this story is in at least one newspaper, and will be in Time Magazine! It’s an informative story which accurately points out how contagious this is and is making Westporters more aware of social distancing.

    • Wendy Cusick

      I agree with Jack, Chris G and Morley.
      I also thank Dan for posting this.
      A lot people don’t seem to realize this situation that’s unfolding affects the citizens, the businesses, the employees and visitors in surrounding towns too….

  5. Lori Franklin

    The NYtimes cannot even get the facts right about the number of people at that party. The hosts should be prosecuted. Any Westport official who does not make that happen should also be prosecuted.

    • And this is EXACTLY WHY Dan!!! The hosts should be prosecuted?! Prosecuted for what exactly? Having a party of 50 people when there was no directive not to? Calling schools and town officials the moment they found out they were exposed?! Placing themselves and their families in self-quarantine mode immediately?! They did the responsible thing as soon as they were aware of the situation. I don’t think Dan is doing anything wrong by posting links to articles…it’s just sad that it provokes the same revolting comments from the same people over and over again!!

      • Heidi Castellani

        If that were the case, we wouldn’t be the COVID-19 epicenter of the state.
        There’s a truth somewhere in all this but that’s unfortunately, not it.

    • Elina Lublinsky

      Prosecuted??? Did I just read that correctly???

  6. So many adjectives. Disgraceful, horrible, inaccurate come to mind. Why are we still talking about this party?? Covid-19 was here before the party. This poor person who had the party. It’s not her fault. I’m embarrassed that as a community we can’t move past the “party”and just do the right thing and stay in. Move on.

  7. disgusting our town is known for this, so selfish and self absorbed to have a birthday party during a pandemic, someone flying in with a long flight People who were there are now coming forward saying there were 200 people at the party, let’s be honest here. The test kits Westport got originally went to testing the party goers .Friendsi of mine from all over the country are asking me, what was up with that person”s decision ? Not being forthcoming with the number of people at the party, putting fellow westportets at harm’s way… I grew up here and this makes me sick

  8. Those who put their vanity and social status above the health of the public are destined to be ridiculed. All these people had to do was have grace (like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson), announce it right away, be thanked, and forgotten. It would have helped curl the spread of the disease. Instead, now everyone passes their name around town, shaming them. Their social status has fallen for sure, and their grave and selfish faux pas is now how they are remembered.

  9. This is a horrible situation. I am so tired of people always tooting their narcissistic horn about Westport, land of the superlatives.. brightest students , accomplished athletes, virtouso violinists, always the “best, land of the superlatives. so here it is, another superlative.. most cases in CT, because some selfish person choose to have a birthday party with 200 people, yes 200, people who were at the party are coming forward saying there wasn’t 40 people, but 200. not telli g the person not to travel on a long flight internationally, really, during this pandemic… I am answering this question from my friends who live in other parts of our country, why would someone have this big party to increase the incident rates of this VERY contagious virus ? now we are on the map for this… big superlative, most asshole town

  10. Jordan Broadbent

    officially number reported of people at the party 45 and 15 tested positive,
    that is 1/3.
    inofficial number but confirmed by a lot of people in town circa 200.
    if 1/3 tested positive, that would have been about 60 more people, who spread to their friends, children, neighbors and other people.
    this is how clusters start and anybody is surprised that westport as the highest rate of infected people.
    come on people, don’t be blind and no nobody can just move on as suggested in some of the comments. this is a complete irrational, irresponsible and careless behavior towards the community of westport / weston.

  11. Jack Backiel

    I think we need to stop pouncing on Dan Woog! That’s my last comment about this.

  12. Jack Krayson

    Press reports current total of Covid-19 cases locally at 74…does anyone know how many have actually been hospitalized or is the WWHD also suppressing this number?

  13. William Strittmatter

    You know, I doubt anyone would care a whit about the party or who threw it if someone (like someone in authority or even the hostess anonymously though Dan) would just say whether there were 40 people there as reported in the Times article and, early on, by Westport officials or 200+ as is widely rumored and reported on this blog by someone that claimed to be there.

    As with Watergate, the ultimate problem is the coverup. Alternatively, allowing the perception of a coverup to continue to fester is not doing anyone any good and simply reinforces the 200+ story. If the truth is 200 and they lied about it, quite frankly, as with Nixon, they probably deserve what they get.

  14. Nancy Wilson

    These comments are so disconcerting. The facts are getting confused because there were many parties over that weekend; from Thursday to Sunday. This was way before anybody knew how bad the virus was and nobody was “locked up” at this point. Everyone was enjoying themselves that weekend with no known reason not to. We need to come together as a community and support one another. It doesn’t matter how it started; I’m sure it started well before that weekend and was already in our community! Think about the how many of us commute to NYC and could have technically brought it here, as well. Think about how many people travelled over February break; it was going on then. Finger pointing is not necessary. Let’s support those in our community that have not been feeling well and support STAY HOME/STAY SAFE and let’s unite as a community instead of behaving horribly towards one another. I’ve lived here for 23 years and cannot believe the way people are treating one another. It’s infuriating!

  15. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    It is true that the time has come to “move past this party” regarding what each individual needs to do personally now do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. However that does not obviate community residents from reprimanding Town officials who might obfuscate truth with intentional lack of transparency rather than keeping their constituents fully informed ini a comprehensive fashion – even at the peril of Town residents. Also remember that the WWHD serves Westport & Weston under the auspices of Town Hall – the same Town Hall, which we were informed, stifled the WWHD from notifying the public that the then proposed South Compo locked door restrooms constituted an imprudent design that was unsafe.

    All Westport residents should take heed from a new piece of information that the New England Journal of Medicine just published. It was just reported that the COVID-19 virus is capable of surviving various surfaces from several hours to several days depending upon the substance (cardboard vs copper vs plastic vs stainless steel). HOWEVER perhaps more importantly, it was also discovered that aerosolized viral particles in the air can remain transmittable for up to 3 hours. This means that someone might become exposed and infected hours after the “contagious” person has left the area. This might help explain why the 6 ft. social distancing recommendation is not as protective as once thought. Think about what a breeze might do to the transmission distance of aerosolized viral particles as well. This aerosolized viability and transmission might be particularly pertinent in public spaces such as public restrooms, marketplaces, corridors, etc.

    Therefore, do not think the air you breath is safe just because there is no one there. Also understand that there is a significant false negative rate of the variety COVID-19 tests – the Chinese reported their test had only 60% sensitivity, meaning a 40% false negative rate. This means that up to 40% of the time a negative test might not be accurate.

    The safest way to proceed at this moment is to just assume that everyone you meet might be positive at this time, and stay away from public spaces as much as possible until this situation is under better control. Use all the appropriate cleansing/hand washing precautions being spoken about, and perhaps wear a mask when entering public spaces understanding that the 6 foot social distancing recommendation might be inadequate, and because the viral particles can be present without someone even being there when you are.

    • Edward Bonaham

      You had somewhat of a great comment until ya brought up the bathrooms and lost all credibility. Get over it. And stop wasting taxpayers money with dragging parks and recreation through this conspiracy theory and FOIA request. Pissing away tax payers money on bathrooms.

  16. Kathie Bennewitz

    no blame anywhere! gatherings do become a hot spot and super spreader that do not know city, county, state or national borders —or any other lines. We are a transient country and population and Nation. Let’s come together, be responsible, prudent and listen to our town and state leadership on this to help keep or friends, neighbors and family safe and heathy as best we can.

  17. Lori Franklin

    There is no shame in being infected with COVID-19. In fact, I had a very heated argument with my 21-year-old son the other day, because he came in direct contact with a healthcare provider who was awaiting COVID-19 test results. I was not angry with him about possible exposure to himself or to people including my 91-year-old father, to the other 4 members of my immediate family, to my friend who was moving her ill and eldely mom to home care, or to anyone else he may have come into contact with. I was furious that he did not share the results of the tested person to me immediately late at night in favor of waiting for morning. In this case, the COVID-19 test results happened to be negative. But tracking this infection can reduce the number of deaths. We all need to take care of eachother and hopefully look forward soon to the way we used to live. But people do need to be held responsible for their actions–even in our current crisis.

    • Mary Hoffman

      step back and imagine yourself at the brink of this virus, at a party, or maybe the host of a party. It is difficult to believe any of us would have thought anything so contagious would make its’ debut in our home town. We are all naive, until we are smacked with the facts. We live in a beautiful town. Please do not blame people for something they had no idea was “happening”

      • Heidi Castellani

        “It can’t happen here”. “It can’t happen to us.” And THAT is precisely why we are in this situation.

  18. Anthony Pastore

    Really you want our names and email addresses, but will not give up the names of the hosts of the party. Are they big campaign donors? They did something totally irresponsible, and didn’t care.

  19. This comment is directed to those few that seem to be looking at this all wrong. First off, the facts: there were approximately 50 people at this party. Maybe a few more, maybe a few less. That’s it. End of story. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Secondly, nobody was cancelling anything on March 5th. The lights of Broadway were still on, sporting arenas were full, and family events, big and small, were still happening. Third, nobody hid anything. The moment it was discovered that someone at the party tested positive it was reported to all appropriate forums, including the school and the town itself.
    But none of it should matter. Looking back doesn’t help anything. All it does is make people point fingers. We are all in this together. At the risk of sounding smaltzy, if we want to get through this, we need to all work together. Adults, kids, public officials. We are all stuck in our houses, hoping that this ends soon and we can go back to stressing over unimportant things like how we are going to get our kids to their practices, rehearsals and birthday parties.
    Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the goodness I’ve seen over the last few weeks. It’s given me hope.
    But the frustration and fright of a small minority can’t be allowed to spread.
    This will end. All things do. Let’s build each other up while we’re stuck in this mess. We’ll all be better off for it.

    • Heidi Castellani

      No one was canceling anything? Many companies in the city were already going into alternating work from home scheduling and the public had already been urged to stop any unnecessary travel.

    • William Strittmatter

      Evan…perhaps you saw this.

      https://www.thehour.com/news/article/Coronavirus-update-Number-of-Westport-party-15154139.php

      Guess you were incorrectly informed about how many people were at the party. 100 plus, as is now seemingly officially reported, is rather a bit more than 50, maybe a few more.

      Guess it turns out the hosts lied, potentially accelerating the spread as folks that weren’t traced and notified went about their business while possibly contagious.

      Does beg the question of why everyone was covering this up since it was inevitable it would come out.

      • William, that article you are referring to is incorrect. There were not 100 people at the party. As I said, there were around 50 people there. You can believe what you’d like, but please know that I am telling the truth. As I said yesterday, it shouldn’t matter at this point, but by making the party larger than it was only makes it easier to place blame on those who clearly don’t deserve it.

        • William Strittmatter

          Evan. I’d love to believe you. But you do see the conundrum. Sara Harris, town operations director, says it was “…apparent that there were more probably in the 100 range,”. Why would she say that? Presumably based on more than rumors. Perhaps based on initial contact tracing and others reported by those on attendee list?

          A commenter on this blog that claims to have been at the party said 200+. Comment was removed so maybe he wasn’t there. And now you with a firm 50 +/- (up, of course, from the 40-45 originally reported).

          Perhaps you were there, or perhaps spoke with someone that was, but how does one reconcile the differences. I have zero personal knowledge so I don’t know.

          Frankly, if Sara is lying as you imply, she should be fired. Alternatively, if it was the party host (and you have been duped), while I hope they recover if infected, I feel l little sympathy for their failure to report the truth.

      • Provisionally, it appears that an elected Westport official may have held a 40th birthday party for his wife on the 5th – possibly in some kind of venue which is intended to hold large gatherings – maybe even more than one at the same time – maybe not. This, if true, was probably not a good idea in hindsight, but I can understand. What I can’t understand is the town’s apparent failure to get to the bottom of this when it learned there was much more to the story on the 13th and issue an appropriate public warning. It looks like baseline incompetence – plus a peculiar willfulness. The weird, circular quotes attributed to Sara Harris, the town’s Operations Manager, in today’s Norwalk Hour story are astonishing and mostly serve to make my point.

  20. Michelle Benner

    Evan Gordon, there are so many numbers circulating, why is your number the end of the story? I certainly hope no one is blaming these people for getting this virus. What they and our town leaders must be held accountable for is not alerting all possible contacts and not sharing information about locations once they learned they were exposed. On March 5th, the day of the party, there were over 1000 people quarantined in New Rochelle, a suburb only 30 miles from Westport, so you can’t really say that people were unaware and that nothing was being cancelled at that time. But the party hosts had the party then. It was an under-informed and honest oversight.

    More importantly, people here in Westport ARE hiding information and continue to do so. We were never told which schools, grades, classrooms, gyms, salons and offices they attended or where they shopped, shedding the virus and exposing 100s. Community facebook groups including Westport Front Porch and Westport Middle School Parents won’t discuss it. Westport Front Porch has even turned off the ability to comment. The WWHD won’t respond to inquiries and Jim Marpe is calling people who are seeking the truth “rumor-mongers.” And you know what? All of this matters. It matters because looking forward, the only way we are going to be able to contain and stop this virus is by being socially and morally responsible to each other by sharing information, not hiding it. The World Health Organization stated yesterday that isolating is not going to be enough. People who are exposed need to be isolated, their contacts must be extensively traced and need to be isolated. And the only way this can happen is if we are all on board and work together, not just by hoping this all ends soon. There is no social stigma to getting this disease. But there is enormous social stigma for those who remain silent, endangering the lives of thousands.

    I suggest this group of people, with the addition of our first selectman Jim Marpe and Mark Cooper of the WWHD, come together and issue a semi-anonymous statement to the town. It can at the very least explain why they refused to immediately broadcast wide and far the places they had been that week after the party once they found out they were exposed to the virus, especially those who were already exhibiting symptoms. Moreover, a statement from our leaders encouraging citizens to help each other share information and contact trace using the power of digital technology, social networks and social media would do a world of good. I think a statement would help put this to rest. This conversation will not go away by saying things like “we need to move on” or that “people are looking at this wrong.” People are upset, not just a few. Trust has been lost. It’s tragic that an opportunity to help our community early on was squandered and now all that will be remembered will be the selfishness and ignorance of those who chose not to speak up. Let’s please learn from this mistake so we can do better.

  21. If someone threw a party today and brought 200 people together, we could blame them because everyone has been adequately warned of the immense danger of such a gathering. Not so on March 5th. The Westport party hosts weren’t adequately warned not to have the party, but they could have been. Does anyone doubt that Donald Trump had the information and failed to warn them? Trump failed to sound the alarm and state in clear unambiguous terms that the Coronavirus was not a hoax and required people to avoid large gatherings. Had he done so, his sycophants at Fox News would have followed suit. The American public would have received a clear message – stay away from large gatherings. Good citizens would have followed those instructions, and no party would have been given in Westport. Instead, Trump and his followers downplayed the danger and no doubt gave people the false impression that there was no reason to change their behavior. Trump stated on twitter on February 24th “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.” On February 25th, he said that the coronavirus was “well under control” and “very few people with it.” His top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, told CNBC that the U.S. had contained the virus and that the outbreak was unlikely to be an economic tragedy. On March 4th, Trump said “… a lot of people are staying in our country, and they’re shopping and using our hotels in this country…. So … probably, there’s a positive impact.” Obviously, he was wrong. Don’t blame the people who gave the party or went to the party. They didn’t fail us. Our community and all of America should come together and place blame on the one man who deserves our wrath.

    • Susan Iseman

      Perfect thank you.

    • Jack Backiel

      The US, Singapore, and South Korea knew of the problem on January 20th. Which of these three countries is lagging far behind? Which of these three countries tried to downplay the seriousness of the virus? Which leader of these three countries, in March, said it would go down to one infected person soon?

    • Mark Bachmann

      Mr. Menz, politicized rants are not what we need right now. Donald Trump can’t become the fall-back excuse for everything that gets done wrong.

  22. Bob Stalling

    TDS…a virus within a virus.

  23. David J. Loffredo

    Wasn’t the Near & Far Aid Spring Gala a day later on March 6th? Or was that cancelled…..

    • It seems that the annual Near & Far gala was indeed held. Other residents (“rumor mongers” in current local government parlance) have stated that some guests at Party Zero were in attendance at the gala. If true, I wonder if Near & Far contacted its guest list?

    • Nancy Ippolito

      Yes, according the CTMirror it was held on March 6th and now the pieces are beginning to fit together. The situation has become even more unconscionable if the Health Dept. and the Selectman, who is prominently pictured at the Gala, thinks or knows that those attending the party held on March 5th also attended the gala on March 6th., furthering community spread. We can speculate, but the underlying facts remain the same….no information from officials on a timely basis.

      • There are something like 104 images from that March 6th Near & Far gala held at Mitchells of Westport on the CT Post’s site. And Selectman Marpe is indeed in at least two of them. There appear to have been several hundred guests in attendance – some of whom I recognize. If it’s indeed true that guests from the birthday party attended the gala (no fault on their part, obviously) shouldn’t the guests of the gala been told to self isolate once the news of the birthday party surfaced?

        • David J. Loffredo

          That’s not the point.

          The townsfolk have been vilifying the party host for having a party on March 5th when word was already out that these types of events should be cancelled. The act of hosting the party is what people are upset about – it just so happens that someone attending was sick and later tested positive.

          So where is the outrage at Mitchells and the Near & Far Aid Gala? Forget party people who might have attended, why was the event even held in the first place? And how many attendees turned out later to have COVID-19? Because I bet you the number’s not zero.

          • I’m not attacking or second guessing anyone for having a party (although I can see how one might). I’m simply perplexed as to why there seems to have been an effort on the part of town officials to withhold information related to same that’s arguably crucial – or at least it would have been crucial at the time. There seem to have been a lot of people at that Near & Far gala on the 6th. Didn’t they deserve to know what had happened so that they could take proper measures?

        • John F. Suggs

          Here are the press images of the Near and Far March 6th Gala. Were these people notified by the WWHD that they may have been exposed?

          https://www.ctpost.com/seen/slideshow/SEEN-Near-Far-Aid-Spring-Gala-2020-200731.php

  24. I think it is important to stop saying that “no one realized” this would be a problem. As Heidi Castellani notes, major NYC and global companies were in emergency mode for weeks before this, cancelling their own large gatherings, warning their employees, working to get telecommuting enacted. My own husband went into 24-hour a day emergency prep mode for his employees on 2/22. People were already dying in Italy, China, Iran at a terrifying rate. Many of us cancelled events or changed our RSVPs to other events prior to this. I am an nurse. I blame no one for getting ill and wish them only good health. But the town leadership failed people both before and after this happened by 1) not reminding Westporters that the threat was very very real and to reconsider gatherings and 2) getting the most important news and requirements out to those infected (like “make sure to reach out to everyone you have been in contact with since this incident” and issuing a mandatory quarantine for those impacted) after the incident. I hope Westport learns from this incident that we cannot forever more have the attitude that the rules that govern the rest of the universe don’t apply here. That is the job of our leaders and the blame sits squarely on their shoulders. Our own health director is quoted in this article as saying he “didn’t realize it would be an epidemic” and that is failure of leadership at the most extreme level.

  25. Note to Leslie Clark. I could not believe you signed your comments with an 8 line promo for your real estate practice. I’m surprised you didn’t include photos of your latest homes for sale.
    So typical Westport.

    • Wendy Cusick

      I totally agree Ed.
      She could have deleted that before hitting ‘post comment’.
      She’s just dropping her ‘virtual business card’ in certain places so people know she’s in real estate….

  26. Christian Hunter

    Actually, she did include photos of her latest homes for sale…just click on the link.

  27. Folks, if you want to blame someone, feel free to blame me – I sent Dan the article as soon as I saw it posted. What I’m seeing/reading is a lot of people awash in shame and embarrassment that Westport got “called out” for the ignorance of a select few believing they were beyond COVID-19’s reach. It’s a cautionary tale and it was in the New York Times. I sent it to him because I thought it was worth knowing about.

    • Wendy Cusick

      No, Maria G Please, don’t put yourself in that position. No blame at all.
      I posted the Time Magazine information here. I didn’t send it Dan’s email. It was already live on the internet.
      The information needs to get out there.
      People of Westport really need to know this is being talked about far beyond the borders of Westport.

  28. Interesting how some of you folks want to have your precious privacy shielded from scrutiny. . . . As if your zip code makes you deserving. . . This story will be shared EVERYWHERE. . . . .

  29. Michael Pettee

    I am seeing this kerfuffle from a safe distance here in Minnesota, but one line/quote in the Times article is perplexing: “One of the party goers later acknowledged attending the event with 420 other people, he said.” (Apparently quoting Mark Cooper.) Um, 420 refers to the number of people at one party? I would think it easy to discern the difference of 420 vs 40.

  30. Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    The points being made by Morley and Gery are exactly on point. But in order to calm anyone who might become frightened about attending the Mitchell’s gathering, it is highly unlikely that any “ground zero party” attendee would have become infectious one day after attending that function unless they were prior exposed.

    Although the exact timing may be variable case by case, it does require some degree of time sufficient for a virus to infect the host, and then replicate, and then finally become transmittable in a variety of secretions. Again, probably unlikely under 24 hours.

    But understand that people infected can and often will transmit virus despite themselves being asymptomatic.

    Understand that some people attending the Mitchell’s gathering might have been infectious apart from “party zero” – hence the recommendation for responsible effective social distancing, cancellation of events and elimination of gatherings such as the Mitchell’s event.

    Acknowledge that it required appropriate, knowledgeable and sober leadership to have enacted the proper procedures and notifications.

    Too often a significant subset of our population becomes so accustomed to privilege immunizing them from things that 99% of our population must face that common sense and communal responsibility become secondary. However illness from any cause does not distinguish based upon such superficial trappings and immune systems do not differ based upon status.

  31. Susan Iseman

    Also, as the link to the South African newspaper indicates, the gentleman from South Africa came to Westport via Dubai.

  32. Bob Stalling

    Who new that Stepford Wives were capable of worrying about a stigma, let alone getting a virus?
    You see what I did there…

  33. How about we all just agree that many things were done wrong by many people in this town that resulted in Westport becoming the epicenter
    of the virus for the State of Ct.
    It’s a sad commentary in so many ways.
    “What’s good for me and mine is all that matters”…..maybe that should be a new Westport, Ct. bumpersticker???

    One quick aside…..to the Westport realtor who stated above, “horrible reporting” and nothing more——-what exactly was your point or was your point simply that you just wanted to type something, anything and therefore have an excuse to print your name and every piece of info. imagineable about your real estate business?
    Maybe we ALL can learning something about ourselves from this terrible situation.

  34. Failure of leadership plain and simple. It starts at the top. We were guided much to late to make changes. Please don’t use this party as your scapegoat to give this town a bad name. There were many private and open charity events in the days following in Westport and Fairfield. These people came forward immediately on learning the news and didn’t hide. The anger and finger pointing is shameful. These people got sick and need support not blame.

  35. Elaine Marino

    The last image in the Near and Far Aid Gala photo gallery depicts a man standing (speaking?) with a microphone in hand. He is wearing blue “medical gloves.”

    https://www.ctpost.com/seen/slideshow/SEEN-Near-Far-Aid-Spring-Gala-2020-200731.php

  36. Elaine Marino

    The Hour has posted an article (tonight at 7:03 pm) entitled “Official: Party at epicenter of Westport coronavirus crisis likely exceeded 100 people.”

    http://www.thehour.com/news/article/Coronavirus-update-Number-of-Westport-party-15154139.php

  37. David Roberts

    Do we really want to defend party attendees who shared a glass pipe or vaporizer?

  38. Lets also remember to be mindful of the group risking their health to provide us the necessities, the grocery stores/ markets. We have many friends at Trader Joes in Westport and we are terrified for them. Policy does not allow them to wear masks or protection and they are on the front lines so we need to keep them safe by following their rules in store. I hear from several of them how some customers are just unaware and not following the guidelines provided in store. Please folks, lets be more aware for them! Thank you to Trudi, Mark, Lisa, Denise, Nash and the entire TJ store. We love you!

  39. Thank you for pointing that out. People manning our stores (TJ, Stop & Shop, Stew Leonard’s etc.) are truly among Westport’s unsung heroes.

  40. I feel sorry for the woman hostessing “The Party.” She invited friends to help her celebrate her 40th birthday, a milestone. Apparently the party was beautiful and successful and everyone had a wonderful time. She must have felt gratified when it ended.

    Totally unbeknownst to her, one of the guests, coming all the way from South Africa to join in the celebration, was carrying this dread disease, and it has spread throughout Westport and neighboring Fairfield County.

    Now our hostess, through no fault of her own, has become a pariah and her gratification at providing her friends with a lovely evening has turned to dust. I cannot condemn her in any way, and I hope none of you do either.

  41. If anyone is interested, this is part of a message I received from the Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick.
    “Today at noon I held a press conference to update our residents. At the time, the Town of Fairfield had 9 residents with COVID-19. Since then, I was notified of four additional residents who tested positive, bringing our total to 13. In Connecticut there are a total of 875 positive cases, which is up from 257 yesterday with 113 hospitalizations and 19 deaths. Of the 875 positive cases, 547 are from Fairfield county.”

  42. Bob Ippolito

    Only a possible cover up that affected the health of our community and the communities around us is what is troubling to Westport residents. Yes, we are all in this together. We never had an interest or need to know the name’s of the party host and goers. What is important to understand is if the situation was intentionally covered up with the initial equivocations of the Selectman and other Town Representatives.

    Our health was being risked while our Town Representatives were dithering to decide what and when to inform the community regarding the extent and impact of our exposure. Finally, and only after being pushed, they provided a generic notification that there was an incident and we should just assume everyone was infected. The sketchy details only added more: suspicion, confusion and distrust.

    What is even more unconscionable is that some residents appeared informed while many others had to wait weeks to learn we actually had a “New Rochelle” type incident and were “ground zero” in Connecticut. During this initial time period, we went about our daily routines thinking there was only minimal risk of exposure and it was under control. We had no idea that the mysterious medical tents we noticed in parking areas were secret COVID-19 testing stations. Due to possible misinformation, the extent of our real exposure and the exposure to other communities was not appropriately and timely communicated to all of us.

    In the New Rochelle incident, the community was informed immediately of the details and extent of their exposure. Some of us now worry that our representatives may have had conflicts of interest and were hiding behind a contrived moral code as a smoke screen to suppress details. The real hero in this story was the South African who came forward. He was a gentleman to fill in some of the blanks and inform us that he was probably responsible for the initial transmission of the virus. We could all learn something about integrity from him and this quote from his story ” It seems that the real problem is now the people who are too scared to say anything. The problem is the ignorance of the public.”

    We are all human, no one believes that there were ill intentions by the people who attended the party . Yes, it is possible that maybe they wanted to protect a specific person from an embarrassing moment but more likely there was panic and a slow learning curve to realize and absorb the full impact of the situation. However the Selectman and our other representatives need to be held accountable for their apparent disregard for the public interest. It was their job to immediately inform us with details and the extent of our exposure and health risk, same as New Rochelle residents and their surrounding areas were immediately informed with similar information.

    The full story of 50 or more people attending the party is already known to many in the community. It is inevitable that someone will come forward to release it publicly. The only honorable position of the party host or others attending the party is to now come forward, even anonymously and be first to release the full story from their own words. Same as in New Rochelle, Westport residents will understand completely and hold no malice for being human but the public will always be suspicious of ill intentions if details that affected our health and lives were suppressed.