Category Archives: Environment

Westport Psychiatrist: Physical, Mental Health More Important Than Ever

Dr. Rishon Stember is a Westport psychiatrist. He writes:

These days, physical and mental health are more important than ever.

As a psychiatrist I am receiving many calls from patients experiencing panic attacks and insomnia.  Unfortunately, this is not unusual.

Dr. Rishon Stember

It is very important for people experiencing elevated anxiety to know that they are not alone. This is the time to reach out for help. Please call or email your physician or mental health professional for guidance at this time. Telemedicine is now the norm.

In my own practice, sessions are by phone and medications are being filled electronically.

Stay vigilant about staying home if possible. Wash hands often. Keep social distance. Get plenty of sleep. Be kind to yourself emotionally.

Telephone friends and family. Don’t hesitate to acknowledge the reality of the situation, but know that it is temporary.

Mindfulness is a a great tool to use. Don’t think about the past or the future; just concentrate on being in the present. Try to take time, and appreciate every small activity you do. Take in sights, sounds, flavors and aromas.

Often, talking to a mental health professional and/or medication can be useful.  As with a headache, meds can be helpful until the headache is gone.

We will get through this. Stay strong, healthy and positive.

Alex Drexler couldn’t sleep. He took his dog on a 5-mile walk. The sunrise helped.

Rishabh Mandayam Tracks Connecticut’s COVID

Drew Coyne’s Advanced Placement Economics class is one of the most popular at Staples High School. It’s challenging, interactive, and very real-world-oriented.

Before most Americans were concerned about COVID-19, Coyne gave an assignment: research the virus’ impending impact on the United States.

At first it was interesting. Then it got frightening.

Rishabh Mandayam

When Westport schools closed last week, the reality hit home. Rishabh Mandayam — one of Coyne’s 11th-grade students — wanted to understand how quickly and severely towns like ours would be impacted.

So — working with his younger sister Raina — he created a COVID-19 tracker.

The goal is to track the rate of community spread, and increase awareness statewide about the virus.

Data comes from the Connecticut Department of Public Health, CDC and ECD (European equivalent) sites.

Rishabh used a programming language called R to pull the information and create graphs. He published it using HTML and Firebase. His interest was sparked through Staples classes like Introduction to Web Programming and AP Computer Science, with David Scrofani and Clare Woodman.

As you can imagine, Rishabh is a go-getter. He’s co-president of the Coding Club, vice president of Future Business Leaders of America, and a member of the Math Honors Society and Staples Science Olympiad team. He’s currently doing an independent study course in machine learning.

Outside of school he tutors students in math and science. He spent last summer as a software engineering intern at Lockheed Martin, and will return there this summer.

Rishabh has seen websites that track COVID-19 nationally; some do it worldwide. As far as he knows, this is the only site that tracks it exclusively in Connecticut.

Feedback has been very positive. He’s enhancing the tracker regularly, with new ideas and tweaks.

During breaks, of course, from his distance learning — including plenty of work for AP Economics.

(Click here for Rishabh’s COVID-19 tracker.)

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 sandylee@optonline.net, 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 facebook.com/beechwoodarts. For more infromation, click here.


And finally, a few wise words from Bill Withers:

Westport Connected: Send Photos And Videos Now!

Westporters keep coming up with great ideas to stay connected.

The latest is as simple as its name: WestportConnected.

The goal is to go beyond the usual social media platforms. Organizers Marcy Sansolo, Darcy Hicks, Lisa Newman, Jaime Bairaktaris and Melissa Kane — a who’s who of creative, concerned and well-connected neighbors — invite fellow Westporters to share a message by sending either a photo (of yourself and/or your family and/or pets), or a video (no longer than 10 seconds!).

Want to say hi to everyone? Send a photo! (Photo courtesy of Bob Weingarten)

You can also offer services or support, as a professional or someone willing to help. Just take a photo or video, holding up a poster with what you can do, and your contact info.

Need ideas? Organizers suggest:

  • Messages of love and support to fellow Westporters
  • An activity that you or your family is doing to keep sane
  • Services you can offer for people who can’t leave their homes: lawn work, shopping, outdoor repairs, etc.
  • Support contacts to get help for depression, spousal abuse, addiction, etc. If you are a professional or sponsor who can offer support, let people know how to reach you
  • Share lessons via Zoom or other virtual conferencing appointments: music or art lessons, meditation sessions, workout routines, etc.

Are you a therapist who can meet clients online? Let us know!

There aren’t many rules. Just be positive!

Organizers say, “this is an attempt to recover some of the life we’re missing due to quarantine. It’s a reminder for all of us that no one is alone.”

Of course, “06880” is happy to help. Messages will be made into a video — and it will be posted here on Monday (March 30).

Send your photos and videos to WestportConnected@gmail.com. The deadline is 4 p.m. this Friday (March 27).

Connect now. Then get ready to be uplifted on Monday!

 

Rev. Alison Patton: The Story The NY Times Should Have Told

The New York Times’ now-famous piece on the coronavirus in Westport — “How a Soirée in Connecticut Became a Super Spreader” — included a photo of The Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton.

The caption noted that the Saugatuck Congregational Church minister “led an online fellowship hour with parishioners on Sunday after her church in Westport closed.”

That was it. No quotes or insights from one of our town’s most caring residents — a wise, insightful observer of all that goes on here.

Many Westporters thought there must have been more to her brief appearance in the Times. 

There is. Rev. Patton writes:

When a New York Times reporter called to ask me how Westport was responding to the virus, I thought she had a great opportunity to write an article about the creative ways that communities are navigating the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s not the story the Times chose to publish. So I thought I’d write that story.

Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton

This has been a profoundly trying few weeks. Contending with the virus itself, the related fears, and the disrupted schedules has put a strain on all of us.

In the words of pastor and public theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber: “We’re not only experiencing a pandemic of COVID-9, we are also experiencing an ‘epidemic of disappointment.’”

How many of us have had plans derailed: championship games, theatrical performances, business engagements or family vacations? How many have lost income, access to hot meals or life-saving support systems?

That’s a lot of grief, even if we do manage to avoid or ride out the virus itself. And of course, there are those who have contracted COVID-19. This pandemic has been hard on our hearts.

We are all scrambling to adjust, to stay safe and grounded. But here’s what has struck me: We are also working hard to stay connected as a community. Saugatuck Congregational Church, along with most other faith communities in the region, has suspended in-person worship.

But like all our other faith communities, Saugatuck is finding alternative ways to stay in touch, counter isolation, encourage people and feed spirits. We are urging physical distancing while sustaining social connection. The responses I’ve witnessed remind me that we have an amazing capacity to adapt, when our connectedness is at stake.

I have so many examples. There’s the 91-year-old member who asked for technical assistance so she could participate in our online bible study by Zoom, and the member who joined our Sunday morning social hour via Zoom from his hospital bed — just 2 days after major surgery!

Saugatuck Congregational Church has anchored Westport for centuries.

There’s the patience everyone has shown, as we figure out how to use technologies that are new to many of us. We are muddling through with remarkable humor.

As one Saugatuck member observed, in response to our Zoom social hour and online small groups, ”What we’re doing is totally different, but really touching and human.”

I know it’s not just Saugatuck Church. Creative efforts to stay connected are springing up all over town. I suspect that everyone reading this will have a story to add. There’s the Westport neighborhood where residents circulated red, green and yellow cards in mailboxes, to help vulnerable neighbors safely signal if they need supplies or other assistance.

There’s the high school student who created a Twitter account to report on the local impact of the Coronavirus and share helpful information, and the families who compiled a website designed to support local businesses by encouraging online shopping.

There are the local artists who are sharing photos and music online, to inspire and encourage us. The list goes on and on. For my part, I am grateful for and inspired by all those who have responded to these trying times with such generosity and innovation.

Westporters have expressed their emotions in many ways. A neighbor took this opportunity to thank our first responders. (Photo/Molly Alger)

Crisis can do 2 things: it can bog us down in our own anxiety or kick start our creativity. Surely, both are happening here.

We all have days when we are worn out from having to revise our habits again and again, in order to stay ahead of an invisible threat. But I hope we can also lean into those creative impulses, bearing in mind that isolation is hard because we are, fundamentally, interdependent. So we figure out how to reach and sustain one another.

The best story isn’t how this virus started or who may have contributed to its spread. It’s how we will get through it, and eventually stop the virus, because we can only do that together.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Town Report; Clothing Drive; Blood Donations; Help For Healthcare Workers; Playhouse Update, And More

As of 4 pm yesterday (Monday), , March 23, 2020, out of the 415 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, 74 were from Westport and 4 from Weston.

Westport Weston Health Director Mark Cooper says, “Being ‘hit’ first, we may be first to see the virus start to slow its spread, so long as people self-isolate and socially distance themselves from others. Only time will tell.”

Although no age group is spared, the 40-49 and 50-59 age groups have the highest number of confirmed cases in the state. The 60-69 and over-80 age groups make up the majority of those hospitalized.

According to the WWHD, private company Murphy Medical tested 45 Westport and Weston residents today. However, due to the shortage of test supplies, some of this morning’s tests had to be rescheduled.

WWHD will restart the Westport Weston drive-thru testing site next Tuesday (March 31), testing supplies availability permitting. Appointments can be obtained by filling out forms at www.coronatestct.com.


Staples High School junior Remi Levitt runs a great clothing and lifestyle blog, called “Coat of Love.” Now she’s using it to organize a county-wide clothing drive for those affected by the coronavirus.

So, “06880” readers: Clean your closets. Separate items by gender and size, in garbage bags; mark their contests on the outside. Place them by your mailbox or the end of your driveway. Email remilevitt@gmail.com with your address; they’ll be picked up within 24 hours, and sent to folks in need.

For more information, click here.


Reader Paloma Bima writes that just before all non-essential stores shut down yesterday night, a customer called Compo Farm Flowers. She arranged for delivery of beautiful bouquets to many friends. It was an act of great kindness for them — and for one small, about-to-close business too.


Reader Nicole Klein has been passionate about giving blood for the last 25 years. When she was in college, a sibling was diagnosed with leukemia. Nicole is adopted, so she could not help medically.

She felt helpless that she was unable to donate blood platelets or bone marrow. Then she realized that although she could not help her sibling, she could help others.

“In today’s world of COVID-19, I again have the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness,” she says. “The only thing I could think to do was donate blood. There is an extreme shortage right now. I urge anyone who is healthy and able, to please click here to make an appointment.

“They are amazing and so grateful. During this time of indescribable helplessness, it will help you too.”


Like every gym, Upper Deck Fitness is closed. They’re doing what they can for their clients, using a two-way video platform. It’s a great solution — but not easy.

Yet Upper Deck still wants to help others. So the fitness center is offering a free month of virtual workouts to all nurses, doctors, techs and EMTs.

“Healthcare workers don’t have the liberty of social distancing, so keeping their immunity strong is of utmost priority,” says founder and CEO Suzanne Vita Palazzo.

“This is not just about a workout, but providing them with an hour to release stress and maintain their strength, while receiving support from a fully interactive community.”

The 2-way video service enables a certified coach to keep on eye on all participants. There are over 20 classes a week, all done via any device with an internet connection.

Healthcare professionals: Email
info@upperdeckfitness.com with your name and credentials.

National Hall and Upper Deck Fitness.


It’s not quite the way the Westport Country Playhouse expected its 90th season to go.

The iconic theater has pushed its April opening back to July.

The revised 2020 lineup includes the musicals “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Next to Normal,” and a new comedy, “Tiny House,” down from the original 5 productions. “Antigone” and “Blues for an Alabama Sky” have been postponed to future seasons.

The modified season will run from July 14 through October 24.

(Photo/Robert Benson)


Who has time for spring cleaning?

This year, most of us.

Westport Hardware is open for business, with a full supply of whatever you need for your yard, garage, attic, basement, deck, driveway, shed, etc., etc., etc.


As medical personnel desperately seek face shields, Westport Maker guru Mark Mathias says that people with 3D printers can help. For information on what to do, and how, click here. For additional info, email mark@mathias.org.


Yesterday’s post about Tina Dragone drew many comments on “06880” — and hate calls and emails to the store.

C’mon, readers. You’re better than that. She’s a small businesswoman, facing hard times like so many others.

It’s your choice to shop there or not. But personal attacks are definitely not cool.


And finally, in case you need a little reminder about social distancing, click below:

 

 

 

Eloise Reilly: The Centenarian’s Great Sequel

I was so glad this morning to run an upbeat story. Westporter Eloise Reilly turned 100 on Sunday, and — from a safe distance — her neighbors helped her celebrate.

I called her a “longtime Westporter, and still-very-active community member.” I didn’t know the half of it.

Today, alert and inspired “06880” reader Kristin McKinney sent along a profile of Eloise she wrote a couple of years ago, for the Westport Garden Club newsletter. In honor of Eloise, she graciously shares it with us.

She picked up her landline on the second ring, old school style, no email, no cell phone. Connecticut native and Westport Garden Club member since 1977, Eloise Reilly was cheerful, bright and as receptive as she could be, certainly she would meet with me tomorrow for a WGC newsletter profile.

She gave me directions; we agreed to meet at 10 a.m. Approaching her property and ascending the longish driveway I noticed the American flag hoisted proudly on a tall, metal flagpole. Ellen Greenberg tipped me off that Eloise served in some capacity during World War II, and seeing Old Glory so elegantly displayed convinced me that was indeed the case.

I parked, found the door after looping around the house which coincidentally afforded me a very nice glimpse of Eloise’s gardens, and gave a gentle knock. Two sets of beautiful eyes met me, Eloise’s piping blues and those of her two-year old rescue kitty who viewed me somewhat suspiciously.

Eloise Reilly, on her 100th birthday. (Photo/Darren and Sally Spencer)

I was invited in and led to a comfy chair near a large bay window where the next three hours passed like a New York City minute. Not having the advantage of searching a Facebook page or Linked In profile in advance of our interview, I proceeded conversationally, looking for common ground.

Eloise was charmingly forthcoming; our initial topic of discussion involved her very successful career as a human resources manager for advertising giant Young & Rubicam that began in 1953, and a second career after tiring of the NYC commute as a realtor with Helen Benson Real Estate.

Talk moved to her home, a beautiful structure designed and built by none other than Eloise herself in 1956, in a time and era where women “just weren’t doing those types of things.” I asked Eloise where she developed her fondness for gardening and asked if as a little girl, she spent time in her mother’s gardens.

The answer was not only yes, but it turns out that like Janet Wolgast, her mother knew the Latin names of every variety of plant, flower and shrub that is identified by the American Horticulture Society.

What is her passion? Growing from seed. Eloise shared that she loves watching things grow, geraniums in particular. As a curious seed novice, I asked about her method for obtaining them, her quick-witted response was, “Order them from Fark’s!”

Eloise Reilly, during World War II.

An interview with Eloise wouldn’t be remotely complete without going into detail about a period in her life which she describes as, “a fabulous experience. Never happened before, will never happen again.”

After reading an article in Life Magazine, Eloise discovered women could go overseas with the Red Cross. She applied unsuccessfully multiple times, each rejection letter specifying the same reason:  she didn’t meet the minimum age requirement of 25.

That year was 1943 and according to Eloise whose two brothers were in the Naval Air Corps, “1300 of Westport’s 7K residents were in active service, everybody and anybody enlisted.”

Not to be deterred, Eloise finally scored an interview in DC and in battling the age argument audaciously stated, “I’m not 25, the war is going to be over by the time I’m 25, but I’ll match my family against anybody you have in the Red Cross.” She was officially in.

Eloise Reilly became a member of the Clubmobilers, a unique unit of service recognized by U.S. Senate Resolution 471 dated May 23, 2012, for exemplary service during the Second World War. Clubmobiles, established in 1942 and conceived by Harvey Gibson, the Red Cross Commissioner to Great Britain, provided fresh coffee, doughnuts, entertainment and a listening ear to troops across Western Europe and eventually the Far East.

Eloise’s tour of duty took her through England, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland and Belgium, as she says, “zigzagging all over the place.” According to Eloise, “I learned to drive a six-wheel, two-ton truck with a double clutch and no power steering. We were assigned to a division, the 12th army group, and we had to meet them upon request in various towns or even countries. There were 8 trucks per group, 3 girls apiece, 24 in total. There was also a supply truck with two girls who could sing or play the piano.”

Eloise Reilly, as a Clubmobiler.

In the event of capture, the ladies were made second lieutenants and although this allowed them admittance into the officer’s club for a meal, they preferred to dine with the GI’s. The Clubmobilers found themselves living in tents, chateaus or even theoccasional, local bordello.

If they asked for directions to the powder room, most often the response was met with a nod toward the surrounding woods. Eloise remarked that in a world of men, the Clubmobiliers were placed on a pedestal, treated like sisters, aunts, mothers.  “They were protected,” said Eloise. “Nobody got out of line, the GI’s were self-policing.”

I asked Eloise if she was ever afraid and the answer was a resounding “no.”  While she admits to being apprehensive at times and despite some accidents and fatalities sustained by fellow Clubmobilers, she was never concerned for her own life.

In fact, her goal was to get to the Front.

FUN FACTThe Westport Garden Club is 96 years old. To Eloise, that’s almost a child.

Former Westporter’s Early Infection Spread Rapidly

With so many stories — and news sources — about COVID-19, “06880” is trying to limit coverage to stories with a direct connection to Westport. So why am I reprinting this Los Angeles Times story?

Because the subject of the story — a man in his 50s — is a former Westporter. The ominous headline is “How One Man’s Coronavirus Infection Created a Web of Potential Infection Around the World.” Here’s Noah Bierman’s report:

Contracting the new strain of coronavirus was stressful enough for one Washington, D.C., aerospace consultant. But tracking down and calling the people he came into contact with may have been just as bad.

“Are you sitting down? I got bad news,” he told people at least a dozen times.

The consultant was diagnosed Friday (March 13) with the illness, one among the early waves of known cases in the United States. And his efforts to call people around the country and around the world — including some within the highest reaches of government — illustrate how far a single individual can potentially spread the virus.

His calls caused factories to shut down, airlines and a ski van service to contact everyone on their manifests, a hotel to draft a letter sent to their guests, and congressional advisors and officials in the Israeli government to consider who they might need to call.

In a phone interview Sunday (March 15), he said he was suffering from painful coughing and shortness of breath. His wife has been feverish.

The consultant asked that his name not be used to protect the privacy of his clients. But he agreed to tell his story as a warning for others to listen to government admonitions and follow social distancing guidelines.

The story talks about his attendance at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington, then going to a pro hockey game followed by a 5-day ski vacation in Vail. Then he got on a plane, and started coughing….

This is not the former Westporter.

When he got the news, he had to tell people: Israeli officials, congressional offices, his hotel and van service in Vail …

The hotel sent a letter to their guests. The van service said it had expected a call like his and was prepared to make calls to the 10 people or so from around the country who rode through the mountains with the contagious consultant. The company that gave him the hockey tickets had to shut down their factory to test employees, as did other businesses he interacted with.

 

When he reached people, after an initial silence, they were understanding, much to his relief.

“Politics didn’t matter when I spoke with these people,” he said. “We get it. We’re going to try to do the right thing.”

The hospital told him to call ahead if he needed to return, so they could set up an isolation room with respiratory equipment.

“I think a lot of people have it and don’t know it, people who have been turned away,” he said. “The symptoms are flu-like, and you don’t have to be that sick.

“They only tested me because of the fact that I went to a big conference and I pushed the issue with them,” he added.

Like many Americans, he is already weary of the isolation.

“I feel like Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining.’ I’m about to snap with this cabin fever.”

(Click here to read the story on the Los Angeles Times website.)

Pics Of The Day #1071

 

Post Road East, 11:30 a.m., looking west …

… and east (Photos/Dan Woog)

Not far away, the Post Road … 

… and, a few hours later, Main Street (Photos/Katherine Bruan)

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.)