Category Archives: Organizations

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:

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.

Marpe’s Message: Westport Cases; Testing; Business Closings; More

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

  • The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) released its update on laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 22, 2020. The total of laboratory-confirmed cases in Fairfield County is 208, 20 of which are hospitalizations. Westport has a total of 62 laboratory-confirmed cases. The diagram on page 1 of the DPH report indicates that of the 327 cases in CT, the majority impacted are between the ages of 40-60. Those in the age range of 20-40 are just as likely to be infected as those in the 60-80 age range.  Click here for the report.

NOTE:  The State data is constantly changing. The town of Westport has endeavored to share the most current information available to us, but understand that the state is updating data daily regarding the number of COVID-19 cases, as well as changes to executive orders. We will try to share that information with the public as quickly as it officially becomes available to us.

  • The Westport Weston Health District reminds the public that it has arranged local COVID-19 testing in town with the Murphy Medical group for Weston and Westport residents only starting tomorrow. Pre-registration and pre-screening is required. Visit coronatestct.com to learn more. Testing is by appointment only.  Note: Murphy Medical will not require payment to register, but it will take insurance information. Insurers will be billed and will pay for the COVID-19 testing. The state of Connecticut pays for those on Husky and Medicaid.

  • The Governor’s Executive Order 7H will take effect as of 8:00 PM this evening, March 23. This order requires that businesses suspend in-person operations for all non-essential functions. To see the Governor’s announcement, please follow this link:

According to First Selectman Jim Marpe, “The reality is that a great many Westport businesses and services can remain open under the governor’s new orders. I encourage you to make use of them reasonably, bearing in mind the greater need to self-isolate.If you are considering going out to a business, check online or by phone to make sure it is still open. Also keep in mind that many businesses have voluntarily closed despite the Governor’s order not applying to them.”

Trader Joe’s enforces the social distance rules — in its own, very recognizable font. 

If you are visiting a supermarket, or convenience store, please maintain appropriate social distancing while you shop, and encourage the personnel in these establishments to follow CDC and WWHD recommended hygiene procedures. The WWHD will be increasing its efforts to enforce proper hygiene procedures in all food service establishments, but customer encouragement will also go a long way. If anyone notices a business not following the proper protocols, please contact the Westport Weston Health District at 203-221-7199.

  • Town Hall and town offices are closed to the public until further notice, overriding the previous notice that they will be closed until March 31.Essential staff will remain on-site utilizing alternating work schedules with some staff working remotely. We are making efforts to keep town services available to the public, but delays may occur. If you need to reach a staff member, please call, leave a voicemail or send an email. (Department and staff directories are available on the website https://www.westportct.gov/about/staff-directory). If it is determined that an in-person meeting is necessary, staff will work to schedule with the recognition that appropriate measures will be taken in order to maintain adequate distancing and transfer of documents.
  • As a reminder, it is imperative that everyone stay home.  In the name of public safety, if you must go out, you must practice social distancing at all times and not gather in groups. You are placing yourselves and others at risk when you engage in behavior that is against the directives of health officials. Our public safety officials need to be focused on many more vital issues than enforcing personal responsibility and trying to deter congregating during this crisis. Do not congregate in any town parks or outdoor facilities, including but not limited to school properties.

This past weekend, we still experienced several instances of relatively large gatherings in our parks and on some of our athletic fields. We encourage all to get outside and get some exercise, but please do not gather in groups. Other communities around us are closing all of their parks, beaches and playgrounds.  We are trying to avoid this, but can only do this if all our residents practice social distancing and do not gather in groups.

COVID-19 Roundup: Virtual Dance Party Tonight; Face Mask Collection; Business News; How To Help; Staples Rocks; The Ospreys (!) And More

Joe Agostino, an enthusiastic participant in the STAR program for people with disabilities, is a budding DJ. Tonight (Saturday, March 21. 6:30 to 7 p.m.) he’s hosting a Facebook Live Virtual Dance Party, in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day. Go to Facebook; search for @djjoegetdown — then get down!


Need a delivery of food? Medications? Toilet paper (the holy grail)?

Cup of Sugar can help. Its mission is simple: make deliveries for those who need them.

It’s simple — just click here, then click “Request a Delivery.” I’m not sure who is behind this, but for many people it could be a literal life saver.


She la la in Playhouse Square is closed. But the popular store placed a box by the front door. They’re collecting N95 masks, face shields, wipes and sanitizers for health professionals and first responders. If you’ve got some to spare — give generously!


With shipments coming in to Compo Farm this week and next, “06880” reader Peter Huggins says, “It would be great if people order flowers for delivery both to help a local business survive, and make their homes a little happier in these troubling times.”


Stacey Henske is helping ease isolation, loneliness, fear and anxiety among seniors. Kids, teenagers, adults — anyone — can write poetry, letters, short stories, essays, cards, illustrations or anything else that can be slipped under a door.

They can be dropped in a bin by the front door at 10 Poplar Plains Road, off Wilton Road. If you can’t leave the house, email staceyhenske@gmail.com; she’ll arrange for pickup. PS: Please don’t lick any envelopes!


Logan Goodman is a Bedford Middle School 8th grader with a great business customizing sneakers. Some designs are her own; others are based on famous artists’ works.

With time on her hands, she’s eager for work. Check out her Instagram (@lacedbylogan), then DM her for details.


The UPS store at 606 Post Road East next to Dunkin Donuts is considered an “essential business.” It remains open, offering printing, scanning, faxing and notary. For anyone working from home, those services can be truly essential.


Starbucks may or may not be an “essential business.” But dozens of Westporters believe it is.

They’ve voted with their feet — well, their tires. This was the scene on the Post Road at 10:45 this morning.

Gotta have that quad long shot grande in a venti cup half calf double cupped no sleeve salted caramel mocha latte with 2 pumps of vanilla substitute 2 pumps of white chocolate mocha for mocha and substitute 2 pumps of hazelnut for  toffee nut half whole milk and half breve with no whipped cream extra hot extra foam extra caramel drizzle extra salt add a scoop of vanilla bean powder with light ice  — well stirred!

(Photo/John McKinney)


Not long ago, Westporter James Mapes created a 2-disk toolkit, all about helping users manage stress.

In these stressful times, he’s giving away the download to the first 20 healthcare workers who email him (jjm195@aol.com). Include your affiliation, please. For more info, click here.


Remember all those stories you’ve heard about the bands that played at Staples High School: the Doors, Cream, Sly & the Family Stone, Animals, Rascals and Yardbirds?

Remember the 2017 documentary produced by Staples grad Fred Cantor, and directed by another alum, Casey Denton? Remember how mad you were that you missed its showings in Westport?

Now — thanks to Cantor and Denton, and their desire to bring a bit of rock joy into socially isolated America — you can relive (or learn about) those amazing days.

They’ve made it available — free — on YouTube. Just click below.

And even if you’re quarantined in your room, start dancing.


Running out of things to do? Board games are great — and right around the corner.

Looking for educational toys for your schooling-in-place child? They’re right around the corner too.

Amazing Toys in Compo Shopping Center offers curbside service. So does Age of Reason on Post Road West — and they deliver (within reason). Just call ahead!


Hank May’s Tire & Auto Centers offer curbside drop-off and pick up. Call ahead to be checked in by phone. Cars can also be dropped off before or after hours. Leave keys and information in the night drop box; they’ll call back.


This has absolutely nothing to with the coronavirus, other than raising everyone’s spirits when we need it most.

Alert “06880” reader Lynn Wilson reports that the ospreys are back at Fresh Market!

The 2019 ospreys. (Photo/Carolyn McPhee)

Pic Of The Day #1068

Yarn bombing at Fire Department headquarters (Photo/Molly Alger)

Marpe’s Message: Do Not Congregate This Weekend. Look Out For Each Other. Don’t Point Fingers. Be Safe.

First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

I’d like to update you on a number of aspects of the COVID-19 crisis that we are all facing. All the following information is on the Town website: www.westportct.gov. Please keep in mind that this is a fluid situation and conditions may change.

First, as we approach the weekend where the tendency is to leave our homes and socialize, it is more imperative than ever to stress the need for everyone to take this situation seriously and self-isolate.

Do not congregate in any location anywhere. This includes the town beaches, and Parks & Recreation and school facilities. If you must get provisions, practice social distancing at all times, even outside. These measures not only protect you, they are necessary to protect the public health and those around you.

This was the sight last Sunday at Compo Beach. It cannot be repeated this weekend.

Let me also assure you that the emphasis of town management activity is based on proven emergency response strategies. For the time being our Incident Response Team is focused on containment. Many other decisions will need to be made in the near future, but that is the status as of right now.

As I reported yesterday, 42 Westport residents have tested positive for COVID-19. That number is expected to grow. The virus is definitely among us. The Westport Weston Health District has tests scheduled for the next 3 Tuesdays. These will be conducted solely for Weston and Westport residents and by appointment only.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has prepared a list of restaurants that are available for curbside takeout and delivery, as well and stores that offer special hours for seniors to shop. Click here to see.

Curbside pick-up and delivery is available from many restaurants in town.

In future videos and postings there will be information relative to how upcoming town public meetings will be conducted, including how the budget process will proceed.  Also, we anticipate discussions on business recovery and town recovery plans when the time is appropriate.

These are unprecedented times. It is vital that we manage our emotions and natural anxieties.

Perhaps take a moment to call a neighbor, friend or family member who may need a personal contact and a friendly voice. Of course, we cannot physically get close, but we may be able provide some level of comfort to those less fortunate or in circumstances more dire than our own.

My office has received numerous e-mails and calls relative to a particular incident in Westport that seemingly precipitated the spread of the coronavirus in town. While I understand the inclination for some to know the numbers, know exact locations and the identities of people involved, it is now past the point where any of that is relevant. The fact of the matter is that this could have been any one of us, and rumor-mongering and vilification of individuals is not who we are as a civil community.

Please be assured that Westport’s public safety, health and municipal officials are in constant contact with each other, and state authorities and experts, while we make day-to-day and hour-to-hour decisions. Many will not appreciate the severity of the directives, while others will feel they are not drastic enough. I appreciate your opinion, but everything is managed and implemented to benefit all residents.

Town Hall is closed to the public. However, municipal officials are working tirelessly on the coronavirus crisis. And employees are available by phone and email. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

I would also like to take this moment to emphasize that I cannot be prouder of the response of our town employees. These dedicated personnel are among the most experienced and professional people that can be working on your behalf.  I appreciate their support, and I hope you will acknowledge their service if you see them – of course with appropriate social distancing.

In the meanwhile, continue to self-isolate and follow all the advice of the CDC: Wash your hands thoroughly, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw it away, keep surfaces sanitized, do not touch your face, and maintain social distancing. Follow us through social media and the website www.westportct.gov/covid19

Together, we will weather this crisis. Thank you and have a safe weekend.

To view this message as a video, click below:

COVID-19 Roundup: Human Services News; CT FAQs; What’s Open; Resource Pages Galore; Interesting Offers; Inspiring Stories And More

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has added a new page: Markets. It includes not just supermarkets, but food sellers like Balducci’s, Double L, Organic Market and Stiles, with hours of operation (including senior shopping) and phone numbers. Click here to see.

It’s an invaluable service — as is their other page featuring restaurants that offer takeout and delivery. Click here to see.


Human Services Department director Elaine Daignault says:

“The health and safety of our residents is our top priority. The Department of Human Services stands ready to help. Many seniors and other at-risk populations may need assistance in procuring supplies for extended self-isolation. DHS is investigating ways to provide safe and efficient help to at-risk homebound seniors and/or households.

“We encourage residents to call their neighbors and offer help, while taking care to follow CDC precautions by keeping a safe social distance. Remember that even if you are feeling well, you could still be a carrier of the virus.”

The Department has compiled a guide that provides up-to-date financial and social services information for the most vulnerable and at-risk members of the Westport community. Click here to see.

Residents should call Human Services at 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov if they or a neighbor have an emergency need of food or medications, or need other help.

For general town information on the coronavirus, click here.


WestportMoms.com constantly updates their list of things to do with kids (Quarantine Scavenger Hunt, anyone?), along with resources and even a bit of humor. They’re on Facebook and Instagram too, and via email newsletter.


The State of Connecticut has a superb, 34-page document answering Frequently Asked Questions about the coronavirus. It covers everything from testing and childcare to the DMV, unemployment and medical leave. Click here to download.


Alert and involved “06880” reader Gil Ghitelman reports that his wife Doris just came home with bunches of flowers from Trader Joe’s.

“I thought she blew the week’s budget,” he says. “But she told me they’re for some friends and neighbors.”

Gil was still thinking about the budget when Doris added that Jared — one of the Trader Joe’s guys — heard about her kindness. He told her the flowers were on the house.

“The budget’s intact. A bunch of people are happy. And a big hat tip to TJ’s!” Gil says.

 


Several readers report finding discarded latex gloves in supermarket and shopping center parking lots. Bring a bag — then dispose of them carefully! 


Connecticut restaurants are now allowed to sell alcohol with takeout and delivered meals. In addition, bars that deliver can sell beverages in sealed containers, just as liquor stores do.


Tonight (Friday, March 20, 7 p.m.), Senator Chris Murphy will host a telephone town hall. Click here to join in.


Besides the COVID-19 testing planned for Westport over the next 3 Tuesdays, there are other test options in Connecticut. Contact them for screening procedures:

• Yale New Haven Health system (833-275-9644)
• Hartford Health Care (833-621-0600)
• Stamford Health (203-276-4111)
• Connecticut Children’s Hospital (833-226-2362)
• DOCS Urgent Care https://docsmedicalgroup.com/telemedicine/


The Red Cross is in dire need of blood. Click here for donation centers, and to learn who is eligible to give during this pandemic.

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Staples High School Class of 1985 grad Mitch McManus is president of BMW of Bridgeport. They’ll drop a loaner off at your home or workplace, then take your car in for service. I am sure many other dealerships offer ways to avoid crowds too. Call yours for details.


CVS is no longer open 24/7. The new hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. They do offer free delivery (1 to 2 days) of prescriptions and other “essential” items. Click here for details.


Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles will not allow remote or distance driver’s ed classes. (Probably a good move, all things considered.)

So The Next Street — a private company — has pivoted. They’re offering students a 10-week “Intro to Entrepreneurship” remote course — for free. (It is open too to anyone interested in starting and running their own businenss).

The course meets via Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Click here for info.


The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County asks children to send pictures and letters, to be shared with seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Click here for details.

 

Marpe: 42 Westporters Test Positive; Testing Set For Bedford On Tuesday

First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

In this time of uncertainty, I want to assure Westporters that our public health and public safety officials are working diligently to provide accurate and essential information to you on a daily basis, and to keep everyone as safe as possible. We are all in this together and we must respond as a civil community.

This afternoon, Governor Lamont indicated his reluctance to authorize a complete statewide shutdown, and I agree with his assessment, keeping in mind that the situation is very fluid and may change. In the meantime, it is imperative that every individual and business owner take this crisis seriously and do everything possible to maintain social distancing and minimize social interactions. Parents should also remind their children to do the same.

Today, the Westport Weston Health District shared with my office that as of this afternoon, the number of positive tests known by the WWHD is 42. This number is sure to rise as test results are reported. COVID-19 is in the community and we can’t stress enough the importance of self-isolation, social distancing, avoiding gatherings and practicing good hygiene.

The WWHD has also arranged in-car testing with an area medical practice (Murphy Medical Associates) to take place in the parking lot at Bedford Middle School. Pre-registration will be required. Visit www.coronatestct.com or call 203-658-6051 to learn more and begin the screening process.  Testing will occur on 3 Tuesdays (March 24 and 31, and April 7) from 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon.

Residents are reminded that if you feel symptoms of COVID-19, call your physician for a test referral. Regardless if you are tested or not, it is imperative that you stay home and self-isolate.

The COVID-19 virus is everywhwere.

COVID Testing At Bedford: Health District Provides Details

Drive-through COVID-19 testing took place yesterday outside Bedford Middle School. The line of cars sparked rumors throughout town.

This morning, I spoke with Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper. He explained what happened.

Initial testing was done last week, the day after the WWHD learned of a party the prior weekend. The protocol followed any infectious disease outbreak — virus, food-borne illness, sexually transmitted disease — the WWHD becomes aware of. It includes both testing (to confirm a disease) and contact tracing (to notify anyone who might have been exposed).

“Over the next few days, we found that substantially more people had been at that party,” Cooper says. “And they went to other functions afterward.” The initial 40 people “quickly blossomed. Those numbers overwhelmed our ability to do contact tracing.”

Meanwhile, anxious Westporters kept calling the WWHD office on Bayberry Lane.

Yesterday’s tests at Bedford represented “the final efforts of the first part of our investigation.” The WWHD tested 72 people, though more had been notified of the testing.

Cooper surmises that some did not show up for testing because they had been tested elsewhere, while others may not have felt sick.

The tests were overnighted to a lab. Results will be available in 3 to 5 days.

In any infectious disease outbreak, the health district not only traces the illness; it monitors those who are infected. That includes daily calls by nurses to check on patients’ temperature.

The WWHD has brought in extra nurses to do that monitoring. There is, Cooper notes, a nurse shortage throughout the area.

“I know the community needs and wants more testing,” Cooper says. “We are talking with a private company about testing for symptomatic people, over the next 3 Tuesdays.”

When plans are finalized, he will announce the times, locations and more details.

Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper (right), with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.