COVID-19 Roundup: Great Landlords; CNN; Pet, Art, Food News; Devil’s Den Closed; More

Beth Schaefer leads off with some great news!

She owns Westport Yarns. Her shop is considered “non-essential” — though everyone could do with some soothing knitting these days — and she’s completely shut down. Not even curbside pickup.

Yesterday, her landlords — Edward and Joan Hyde — suspended her rent for April. They did the same for her shopping center neighbors Body Quest and Party Hardy.

If conditions don’t improve, the Hydes will consider doing the same for Beth in May.

“This could make all the difference whether I can survive or not,” Beth says gratefully. “It’s not a guarantee, but it puts me in a much better place.”

The Hydes are not Westport’s biggest or wealthiest landlords. Plenty of Westport commercial real estate is owned by large corporations.

But Edward and Joan Hyde made that first generous, community-minded gesture. Will others do the same, to help other businesses survive?

When they do, let me know. I’ll give them the shout-out they deserve.

First it was the New York Times. Then Fox News. Now CNN has reported on Westport’s state-leading 79 coronavirus cases.

The story mentions the now-infamous party that may have contributed to the spread of the disease. But it also includes cautionary quotes from Yale New Haven Health System’s chief quality officer Dr. Steven Choi — a Westport resident.

“There was no social irresponsibility with the party,” he says. “It could have been any party.”

The spread is now “past the point of contact tracing,” State Senator Will Haskell — a Staples High School graduate — adds. “The most productive thing people could do right now is not point fingers, but stay at home as much as possible.”

For the full story, click here.

Everyone loves healthcare professionals, and pets. But who can care for the latter, when the former is at work?

Town House for Dogs and Cats, that’s who. Owner Sandy Goldman offers free “daycare” for healthcare workers. Email, or call 203-227-3276.

In related pet news, Westport-based Connecticut Humane Society is hosting a Zoom webinar tomorrow (Thursday, March 26, 3 p.m.).

It’s a PetTalk (the animal version of a TedTalk) about busting pet boredom. Participants will learn how to keep pets’ minds and bodies active. Click here to sign up.

The Humane Society adds, “thankfully everyone here is doing fine. Most pets have been moved to foster homes. Our Fox Memorial Clinic in Newington is seeing veterinary emergencies by appointment.”

In addition to being a frequent “06880” commenter, Rich Stein runs a catering business. He writes now about the sudden, complete end of work for all caterers and private chefs. No more galas or gallery openings; no more private parties. Justlikethat, they’re gone. (As is business for the vendors — including local farmers and markets — they buy from.)

Rich says that he and other caterers — he mentions Dash of Salt, AMG Catering, Along Came Carol, along with his own What’s on the Menu Event Services — have posted very tasty menus on their websites and social media, for anyone who wants meals prepared and delivered (and frozen). They are always scrupulous about cleanliness and health.

Remember: Easter and Passover are coming. You may not have your traditional gathering — but you’ll still want to eat well.

Speaking of food, Brian Lewis is doing all he can to help his dedicated restaurant staff.

All takeout orders at OKO support a new meal train for the employees who are temporarily out of work. He’s providing full dinners for them and their families, twice a week.

“Every dollar from takeout orders that members of the community are so graciously placing supports this meal train,” Brian says. “Each dollar also helps me keep 9 people employed. and our doors open.”

Brian also plans to help feed first responders, and medical workers.

To help OKO help others, click here. For a list of all restaurants and markets offering curbside and takeout delivery, click here; then scroll down.

Speaking even more of food, Stew Leonard Jr. was on Fox News yesterday, talking about his family’s business.

Panic buying seems over, he says. They’ve adjusted to spikes, like selling 40,000 cans of tuna fish a week, up from the usual 10,000.

He also noted changes, like eliminating loose bagel bins and (aaargh!) all those free samples.

Oh, yeah: Stew’s is paying employees an extra $2 an hour now.

Click here for the full interview.


The Nature Conservancy has closed Devil’s Den. A “dramatic increase” in visitors — combined with their lack of social distancing, and “not heeding the town of Weston’s request to refrain from parking on roads which can block emergency access for our neighbors” — sparked the decision.

Bridgeport Rescue Mission offers food, shelter, clothing, addiction recovery services and education to a desperate population in Bridgeport — and does it 24/7/365, with no city, state or federal funding. A number of Westporters are deeply involved in the Mission’s work.

COVID-19 hits the low income, homeless and mentally ill populations hard. Meanwhile, both food donations and financial support is down. Packaged food or wellness kits with hand sanitizer, tissues, soap and cough drops can be dropped off at 1069 Connecticut Avenue, Bridgeport (Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Click here to donate online, or mail to: BRM, PO Box 9057, Bridgeport, CT  06601.


Beechwood — Frederic Chiu and Jeanine Esposito’s innovative, immersive arts salon series — offers intimate, personal encounters with music, paintings, sculpture, dance, the written word and more.

It’s the opposite of social distancing.

But you can’t keep Beechwood down.

From 6 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday in April, they’ll provide an hour of art, music, performances and special guests. And they’ll do it while connecting communities around the globe. Audiences don’t just tune in; they’ll interact too.

Each Wednesday has a theme. There are live performances, special guests, and excerpts from amazing performances over the past 9 years of salons.

Mark your calendars. Then click on For more infromation, click here.

And finally, a few wise words from Bill Withers:

9 responses to “COVID-19 Roundup: Great Landlords; CNN; Pet, Art, Food News; Devil’s Den Closed; More

  1. Thanks for the detailed updates from such a broad amount of sources, Dan. My two favorites today are 1) that Stew’s thinks panic buying is winding down and 2) Devil’s Den shut down – I was there about ten days ago and it was mobbed (we didn’t stay and found a quiet, empty park to stroll instead).

    • Wendy Cusick

      At Stew’s paper towels, toilet paper, tissues, napkins and chicken is still very popular.
      Chicken they have plenty of stock, finally.
      The paper products seem to be only available in morning. I asked. The truck rolls in at night and the employees put it out for 6am opening. Limit 1 per customer. (An empolyee came over looking for some and it was gone. They can’t even snag one)
      They surprisingly still have hand sanitizer 50% proof. ($9.99 a bottle! 😲)Limit 2 per customer. Palmolive Limit 1 per customer.

  2. Patrick Kennedy

    Dan, you the man.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Everyone who’s gotten so worked up about the “Westport Coronavirus Party” NYT article should read this much better story in, of all places, the Westport News.

    The vilification of the host and partygoers is unwarranted, as the party was held on March 5 — well before anyone was asked to limit activities, or most people even thought about doing so. The New Rochelle lawyer story wasn’t even in the headlines yet; the guy wasn’t diagnosed until March 2.

    In fact, all the finger-wagging about the purportedly reckless Westport party made it more difficult for the health authorities to trace contacts because guests were, understandably, afraid of being shamed in the press. I know not a sole involved in the party, so I am not standing up for friends here.

    • I meant I know not a soul involved in the party. I was not speaking about anyone’s shoes…or whether sole of the Dover variety was served there!.

    • William Strittmatter

      I don’t think any finger wagging started until it started to come out that there were more than forty people at the party. No one was finger wagging at the time folks were asked who was there, because it wasn’t widely known (beyond, perhaps, those contacted) that there was a coronavirus issue in Westport at that point so no reason for anyone involved to be shamed.

    • People would probably talk less about the party if other people didn’t keep telling people to stop talking about the party.

      I read this same quote last night:
      “The decision not to release the number of attendees, Cooper said, had to do with state statutes that prohibit the release of potentially identifying medical information.”

      It’ll take someone way smarter than me to explain how releasing the accurate number of attendees of a party (whether 40 or 200) is somehow “potentially identifying medical information,” when the party is in a town of 25,000 and many attendees were out-of-towners. There is absolutely nothing “identifying” in giving citizens that accurate information, as soon as it was learned. This is about town officials keeping information away from the general public.

  4. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    Thanks Dan. So many of us are leaning on you right now for good solid information as well as a daily lift with the picture of the day and all the reports of those who are also doing such wonderful things.