The weather was gorgeous this afternoon.
But this was the scene on Long Lots Road, near Turkey Hill.
Be careful out there!
In the wake of yesterday’s disclosure of a COVID-19 positive employee at Longshore Sailing School, the Westport Weston Health District fielded a number of questions about contact tracing.
Director Mark Cooper noted that because the employee does not live in Westport or Weston, that person’s local public health authority is doing the contact tracing, as required by law.
Cooper also sent this information, from director of clinical care Louis D’Onofrio:
Westport Weston Health District has performed contact tracing for communicable diseases since it was established in the 1960s. Contact tracing is a fundamental public health activity that enables public health officials to slow the spread of infectious diseases.
The WWHD began contact tracing for COVID-19 in early March of this year. Our clinical team, along with trained volunteers, is responsible for and has been managing contact tracing activities for every reported positive case in residents of Westport and Weston.
The Westport Weston Health District works with Connecticut’s statewide confidential software system to monitor the health and wellbeing of people affected by COVID-19. The information collected in contact tracing is used to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
All WWHD staff and volunteers have completed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention training prior to performing COVID-19 contact tracing. The majority of volunteers are a medical professional of some kind (nurse practitioner, medical doctor, registered nurse or medical assistant), and/or is a member of our Medical Reserve Corps.
Each public health jurisdiction in Connecticut is informed by the State Department of Public Health of a suspected or active COVID-19 case in their jurisdiction. The WWHD serves both Westport and Weston, thus it is our responsibility to contact residents in both.
WWHD staff then contacts that person and asks multiple survey questions using the state assessment outline. The survey collects basic information on symptoms, the ability to self-isolate, and assesses unmet needs (such as access to food, housing, healthcare, etc.), to connect people who are being asked to isolate with the resources needed to be successful. All information collected will remain confidential, and contacts who are identified will not be given information on cases (such as the person who may have exposed them).
If a positive COVID-19 person informs the interviewing WWHD staff member of another person who may have been exposed to them and that places that person at risk, per CDC recommendations*, then the WWHD contacts that new person. If the person is not a Westport or Weston resident, we inform other local health departments via the CT DPH software, and their own town of residence public health agency performs that contact tracing.
Click here to learn more about contact tracing. We appreciate the public’s cooperation if contacted, as we must all work together to slow the spread.
*For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. The public health evaluation of close contacts to patients with laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 may vary depending on the exposure setting. Contacts in special populations and/or congregate settings require additional considerations and may need handoff to a senior health department investigator or special team.
This morning, the Board of Selectmen approved the Remarkable Theater’s request to continue showing drive-in movies this summer, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. So far, all 4 shows have been sold out
The very cool addition to Westport’s entertainment scene continues tomorrow (Thursday, July 9) with “Mamma Mia!” and Saturday (July 11), with “The Graduate.” The Dustin Hoffman classic is sponsored by Manna Toast. They offer a $20 movie box meal, which can be picked up at their kitchen behind Cycle Dynamics (near Carvel) that day before the film.
Three more films are set: “Life, Animated” (July 15), “Do the Right Thing” (July 16, in conjunction with TEAM Westport), and “Dazed and Confused” (July 18).
Tickets are now on sale for the 5 movies; click here (and do it quickly!). The parking lot opens at 8 p.m.; showtime is around 9.
Stay tuned for more drive-in movie news. The Remarkable Theater rocks Westport!
A food scraps recycling drop-off area is now open at the transfer station. Residents can bring all scraps, including meat products and bones.
All you need is a lidded container to collect and transport food scraps. Starter kits are also available at Earthplace for $25. They include a 2-gallon lidded countertop pail, 6-gallon transportation bin with lockable lid, and a roll of compostable bags.
It’s all part of Westport’s Zero Food Waste Challenge. For more information, including upcoming events, click here or email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org.
Speaking of food: If you thought about planting an edible garden, but never quite started — it’s not too late!
On Monday (July 13, 7 to 8 p.m., Zoom), Wakeman Town Farm explores 8 veggies and herbs to plant now, to harvest and enjoy from late summer into fall.
The speaker is Kathy Oberman Tracy: WTF board member; Westport Garden Club member and plant sale chair; member of the Herb Society of America, and chef for Martha Stewart, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.
Click here to register. Suggested donation: $10.
On July 21 (7 to 9 p.m.), Westport Transit will hear public comment on the replacement of its 7 commuter shuttle routes with an on-demand group door-to-service to the Saugatuck and Greens Farms stations.
Passengers would use Norwalk Transit’s app, between 5:45 and 9:45 a.m., and 4 and 8 p.m.
This is different from the on-demand service that replaced the shuttle routes, due to COVID-19.
The hearing will be held remotely. To join, call 646-876-9923, then enter Meeting ID 883 3169 9715. To submit written testimony click here, email email@example.com, or write Westport Transit commuter shuttle changes, 275 Wilson Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06854
For a map of the service area and additional information, click here or call 203-299-5164.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp has a strong connection to Westport. Our neighbor Paul Newman founded the summer program for seriously ill children in 1988. Plenty of Westporters volunteer at the Ashford, Connecticut facility. For many, it’s the highlight of their year.
This year, due to COVID-19, youngsters won’t enjoy that amazing experience. But organizers have created innovative ways to the camp’s magic to campers. Facebook Live interactive events like sing-alongs and story times, care packages (with games, arts and crafts projects, and more), and Zoom home and hospital bedside visits are a few of the ways to help kids battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
One of the camp’s staunchest friends is Westporter Adam Vengrow. He’s organized a push-up fundraiser. For just $25, anyone can join his team. You can donate too without doing any push-ups.
Click here for details. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally … Beck turns 50 years old today. He is anything but a loser.
Longshore Sailing School adds this information about their temporary closure, after an employee tested positive for COVID-19:
This employee is not an instructor nor do they work inside our office. We notified all current families as soon, as we were informed. We are also reaching out to all students that have been at our facility over the last three weeks.
ServPro will be at our facility today doing a full sanitization of our facility and equipment. After speaking with the Westport-Weston Health District, it was concluded that we are going above the requirements of the State of Connecticut OEC Coronavirus Memo #18 regarding Youth Camp Guidance. We will do our very best to continue to provide updates as they come.
A reader writes:
I woke up this morning to an email from Longshore Sailing School. They said they will be closed today, because one of their employees tested positive for the coronavirus. All staff will get tested today.
I am freaking out, because my son was there Monday and Tuesday. I’m not sure if he was exposed or not.
More importantly, this is how the spread happens again. This was the first week we sent my son out to an organized activity since March (we quarantined until last weekend). I will be so upset if he turns out to be positive from this.
I am very worried because my elderly parents live with us.
Many people were partying and not being safe over the July 4th weekend. Now the virus may spike again in our town.
Of course our family will get tested this morning to be safe.
The reader followed up an hour later with this:
I talked to my son’s doctor this morning. She said the problem is if someone got exposed, it may not show up as positive for a week. So if he tests today he could get a false negative.
She said this will be a problem with kids going back to school in the fall. Norwalk summer school opened this week. Then a teacher tested positive, and they have now shut down for the remainder of the week.
If this happens when school opens, what will they do? Will they shut down every time?
This should be a really good discussion. I don’t think anyone has a clear decision at this point about what to do.
Another big step on the road to return:
Starting this Thursday (July 9), the Westport Farmers’ Market is open for regular shopping.
The decision — made “after careful consideration and due diligence through state and local officials” — means that every week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Imperial Avenue lot will be will fill once again with “your beloved farmers, bakers, cheese mongers and more.”
A number of adaptations will ensure safety for customers and vendors. Masks must be worn at all times. There is single-direction traffic while shopping (one way in, one way out). There will be hand sanitizer stations, social distancing and “lots of fresh air.”
Just like old times, musicians will play.
Executive director Lori Cochran realizes that not everyone will come. So pre-order, touch-free, selected-time-slot pickups continue.
“We realize that healthy food is one of the best ways to heal your body and keep your immune system strong,” Lori says. “Our immune-compromised shoppers need safe access to our product. We are committed to bringing it to them while allowing others to participate in the day-of model.”
A select number of slots are available for Thursday pickups, from 9 to 10 a.m. For details, click here.
With the goal of opening dialogue and expanding awareness of the realities of racial challenges, the Westport Weston Family YMCA is sponsoring an intriguing conversation.
The guest is Trevor Freeland. A member of the first all-Black team to reach the top ranks of American youth swimming (chronicled in the 2007 movie “Pride”), he went on to a stellar career at the University of Virginia. As the first Black swimmer to compete in the ACC, he helped the Cavaliers win the 1st of 16 league titles.
One of the few Black executives to run a major Wall Street trading desk, he has committed his life to challenging and breaking down barriers. He attributes his success to the work ethic and life skills he learned in the pool.
The event is this Saturday (July 11, Camp Mahackeno outdoor amphitheater). There are 2 sessions: 9: 15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. A limited number of spots are open to Y members who are not non-Water Rat swimmers, and their families; Y members can click here to register.
Doug Fierro spotted this yesterday, in a dumpster behind Compo Shopping Center.
“Another victim of COVID,” he writes. “A sad day for Westport.”
The funds will purchase farm-to-table meals for homeless shelter residents, from caterer Alison Milwe-Grace. The donation is particularly important now, because Gillespie’s regular volunteers are unable to help personally. (Sunrise Rotary members are some of those regulars: they serve meals on the first Saturday of every month.)
Savannah Bee has added items to its curbside delivery.
Along with their line of immune boosters (saw palmetto and local new England honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and healing anti-bacterial propolis spray), they now offer an elderberry elixir hand-crafted in Atlanta with their famed honey. It’s filled with adaptogenic jerbs and immune-boosting botanicals.
Click here, then call Julie (203-856-5149) or email email@example.com.
Yesterday, a reader reported that Panera Bread’s “customer care” team told her the Westport location would reopen today.
A reader who drove by there today reports, “they remain quite closed. The sign in their window still says ‘Location Temporarily Closed.” The location does not pop up on their website when you search 06880 either.”
If anyone knows what’s cooking, let us know!
And finally … I have no idea who comes up with these things, but supposedly on this date in 1550, chocolate was “thought to have been introduced to Europe.” Today also marks a year and a day since the tribute concert to Westport’s favorite blues/rocker, Charlie Karp.
To celebrate, here’s a link to Charlie Karp’s 1973 album, named after his band at the time: White Chocolate.
Last Sunday, a crew from Norwalk’s JS Landscaping removed a very large and quite dead tree near Maple Avenue South.
Allison Wiedman, her husband and 3 kids — summer renters — watched the action. The trunk snapped. They heard an enormous bang.
The tree had fallen onto the JS truck. Ronny Salazar — owner Jose’s brother — tried to get away. But he was pinned underneath.
His 3 brothers and Allison’s husband Bill managed to push the enormous trunk off Ronny’s leg.
Allison — a physical therapist — saw that Ronny had a massive wound to his right elbow: a severed brachial artery, multiple compound fractures, missing tissue, and massive bleeding.
After calling 911 she told the men to compress near Ronny’s underarm, then ran into the house to find something to use as a tourniquet. She remembered seeing thick exercise band in the guest room.
When she got back, a police officer was on the scene and applying a tourniquet. EMS arrived quickly, and took him to Yale New Haven Hospital.
Over the next few days he underwent multiple surgeries. Doctors made the difficult decision to amputate his leg below the knee.
Thankfully, he will still have use of his right arm and hand, though after reconstruction it will never be the same.
Allison has helped Juan try to navigate the healthcare system. A neighbor, Rachel Gordon, set up a GoFundMe account to help with medical bills, lost wages, the expense of a prostheses and more.
Juan and Ronny came from Costa Rica. Juan moved here when he was 18 years old, nearly 20 years ago.
He worked as a busboy, line cook and in a nursery until about 10 years ago, when he earned enough money to start a landscaping company.
They started with 16 clients and now have 130. Juan has seen the United States be a land of opportunity for those willing to work for it.
From the hospital, Ronny is hoping he will recover enough to follow in his brother’s footsteps, and play with his nieces.
We know times are difficult for everyone right now, but we hope you will consider donating to the Salazar Family Accident Fund. Juan and Ronny are some of the kindest, hardest-working people you will ever meet. They have successfully pursued the American dream until this point/ We don’t want to let a random accident beyond their control derail them, but the unfortunate reality is that our system is set up in a way that it can.
All money raised will be given directly to Juan and Ronny. Every little bit will help as they begin their journey forward from this terrible accident.
(Click here for the GoFundMe page for Juan and Ronny Salazar.)
Chris Scherban is quite bright. He was Staples High School’s 2017 salutatorian; he’s now at Georgia Tech. He’s a veteran of many Westport Maker Faires.
He and 2 friends have just launched a smart home startup, called Theory. With it, anyone — including numbskulls — can make any light switch (indoors or out) smart. Chris’ switch goes on top of existing one — no tools needed. It works via an app, and an adhesive strip.
Theory can be controlled through iOS, Android, Alexa, Google Assistant, even his new website.
Now they just have to bring it to market.
A few minutes ago, they launched a Kickstarter campaign. The goal is $45,000. To help, click here.
Site work has begun on the North Avenue water tanks. A row of old trees has been taken down, offering a few of the decades-old tank that few have ever seen.
As part of the agreement with neighbors, Aquarion will eventually provide extensive landscape restoration.
When the Westport Panera location looked closed — and any mention of it vanished from their website — Bitsy Higgins reached out to their “customer care” team.
This morning, they emailed her:
“Thanks for your patience the West port location will reopen on 7/7/2020. Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Have a great day!”
That’s tomorrow. And the news will ensure that many Westporters (or “West porters”) have a great day.
Westport was awash in red, white and blue this holiday weekend.
There was this too, at a home near downtown: a reminder of another color that is an important part of the fabric of America. (Hat tip: Hannah Spencer)
And finally … 22 years ago today — July 6, 1998 — Roy Rogers died of heart failure. He was 86 years old.