Tag Archives: COVID-19 coronavirus

PPP: Lifeline Loans For Westport Businesses, Organizations

COVID-19 wreaked havoc on nearly every segment of the economy.

Without the Paycheck Protection Program, it would have been far worse.

The PPP provided a lifeline for companies, non-profits and other employers. Loans offered an incentive to keep workers on the payroll. The Small Business Administration will forgive loans if certain employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.

Newly released information shows 137 recipients in Westport, of loans of $150,000 or more.

They cover a broad range: construction firms, healthcare providers, attorneys, restaurants, retail stores, a tutoring service, fitness and sports centers, architects, public relations firms, dry cleaners, car dealers, childcare services and more.

Three religious institutions are on the list. So is the Pierrepont School, and non-profits like Earthplace, the Westport Weston Family YMCA, Westport Country Playhouse and Westport Library.

BioSig Technologies got a PPP loan. As “06880” reported in April, the Wilton Road firm is working on oral treatments for the coronavirus.

Click here to see the full Westport list.

On Monday, the PPP is once again accepting loan applications. The deadline is August 8. Click here for information.

(Hat tip: Paul Delano)

Sakura is one of 137 local businesses helped by the Paycheck Protection Program.

COVID Roundup: Pantry Help; Grocery Service; More

Homes With Hope needs plenty of help. Westporters have responded generously to requests for food for clients of the supportive housing agency, and supplies for the food pantry that serves many others.

But the Jesup Road facility needs another kind of help too: volunteers to sort and stack the donations that have come in.

Staples High School’s boys track team captains worked all day Friday, doing just that.

They and their team promise to be back soon — with more food, and more manpower to help put that food in order.

Staples boys track captains, at Homes With Hope.

Westporters love “Guys Helping” — the local teenagers (and not all male) who do shopping and other errands for those who can’t get out. (Just email GuysHelping@gmail.com. Include your name, address, and errand.)

But you don’t have to love in “06880” to enjoy a service like that. If you’re within 30 minutes of 48103 — that’s Ann Arbor, Michigan — you can request delivery of groceries, prescriptions and other essentials from a store of your choice. Like Westport’s Guys Helping, it’s contact-less — and free.

The “A2” service is provided by Kellen Smithson. A 2014 Staples High School graduate, she lost her job the pandemic. But she sure hasn’t lost her spirit, or her desire to help.

Kellen Smithson

And finally … after 3 days of the beach parking lots being reopened (and, at last, a bit of spring weather), Westport feels:



[OPINION] Doctor Dumps On Port-A-Potties

Dr. Jay Walshon is a longtime Westporter. He spent 35 years as a chairman and director of emergency medicine; is a past director of EMS for South Central Connecticut, and the EMS advisory board; a 3-term president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, and recipient of the 2016 Phil Stent Achievement Award in Emergency Medicine.

On May 7, he spoke at a Parks & Recreation Commission meeting of his concerns about using portable toilets at recreational facilities. He shared those concerns in a letter to town officials. Dr. Walshon says:

It was recently announced that the new bathroom facilities at South Beach will remain closed owing to virus related concerns. This seems prudent, as those permanent restrooms are significantly more difficult to keep safe from spreading contagion. In addition, I support the cautious reopening public spaces for resident enjoyment.

Bathroom facilities at Compo Beach will be closed … (Photo/Matt Murray)

However, as a medical professional I must respectfully point out that the choice to rely upon portable toilets at the beach potentially presents serious unnecessary and unjustifiable risks to public safety.

The premise that portable toilets are safe is not one which survives scrutiny when a highly contagious organism like COVID-19 is involved.

Current CT statistics indicate that 99% of Westport residents remain vulnerable to COVID-19.

We know there is significant community spread by pre-symptomatic viral shed for 2-3 days – including in diarrhea – and those devoid of classic signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Given that between 25 and 50% of COVID-19 infectious people might not be aware they are spreading the virus, 2,000 beachgoers from Fairfield County will likely include people who pose unsuspecting risk. Odds are that some who are contagious will utilize these enclosed spaces. We will not know who or how many.

Viral particles can be found in the air for up to 3 hours, and droplets survive on hard surfaces for 3 to 4 days, rendering poorly ventilated confined public spaces such as portable toilets dangerous to unsuspecting users.

Despite seasonality, UV light and humidity effects, COVID-19 transmission will not be aborted and may not even significantly diminish. Current mitigation is grounded in assuming everyone may be contagious.

… and be replaced by portable toilets. (Not this many — it’s a fireworks file photo!)

Using a toilet facility after someone who unwittingly aerosolized viral particles by coughing, sneezing, spitting, diarrhea, flushing, etc. can result in infection via inhaling micro-droplets or touching contaminated surfaces. While flushing does not occur, their poorly ventilated confined spaces can increase air and surface contamination. Outdoor spaces may provide elements mitigating viral spread, but port-a-potties provide environments that are the antithesis.

While I understand the these potties will be subject to “a stringent cleaning and sanitization protocol” by maintenance staff, to be reliably effective, disinfection needs to be performed between users by trained personnel wearing proper protective garments – a challenging and arduous task for our Parks staff in summer heat, and exposing them to undue risk.

These toilets will create queues of people who must maintain social distancing and wear face coverings within to optimally mitigate contamination, and they will encourage longer stays and larger gatherings – something we might wish to avoid at this juncture.

Compounding the risk is absence of hand washing stations. Residents will be unable to effectively cleanse as “sanitizer” is merely an adjunct to proper hand washing technique with soap and water.

The inconvenient truth is that for reopening public spaces where gatherings are inevitable, public toilet facilities are not safe spaces at this time.

Unless our residents can be assured otherwise, from an epidemiological perspective the port-a-potties represent an unnecessary and unjustifiable health risk to individual and community health. If effective mitigation against viral spread is the healthcare priority for Westport, providing portable toilets to the public during this early reopening phase may be inadvisable.

COVID-19 Roundup: Family Fun; What If?; Podcast Answers; Beechwood Arts; Holiday Meals, And More

Marley Brown is a clever — and now homebound — Staples High School freshman.

Last week she challenged her family to a week of “theme nights.” Everyone had 30 minutes to create their own costume. Then they took a photo together, and ate dinner dressed up.

Themes included Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Gala, Movies and Broadway. “Gala night” ended up with a dance party. On Sunday her brother, Pierce, picked the winner. (It was his 13th birthday.)

“It was a great idea to break up the monotony of our days, and give us a way to jump start our creativity each evening,” says her mom, Shandley McMurray.

What’s your family doing to break up routine? Email dwoog@optonline.net!

A typical night in the Brown house.

Years ago, Miggs Burroughs wrote a book. The What If? Book of Questions is a quick and simple read — but it’s hardly quick and simple. The thought-provoking, inspirational work gets you thinking in random, odd ways. You think about things you’ve thought of often, and things you never imagined would enter your brain. For example:

What if the most important moment in your life is this one? Can you handle the power it gives you to choose how you will spend the next one?

Westport knows Miggs as a brilliant graphic artist and photographer. He is the go-to guy for designing company and non-profit logos, t-shirts, even the town flag. He is very generous with his pro bono work.

Once again, Miggs’ generosity knows no bounds. Though What If? is still available on Amazon he’s now providing a free digital version. It’s “a way to offer a small distraction and meditation on our current situation.”

Click here to download, at no cost. Then, What If you have your own questions about the crisis? Just click “Comments” below!

Like many of us, Peter Saverine knows the importance of wearing a mask.

His day job is director of development at STAR Lighting the Way. But he may have a second career as a designer.

He created his own (very) inexpensive mask using a cheap coffee filter, 2 rubber bands and scotch tape. Then he let his imagination run wild.

The result is below. Enjoy — and to show off your own creations, email dwoog@optonline.net.

Staples High School 2004 graduate Brittney Levine hosts a podcast: “Be My Neighbor.”

Yesterday, her guest was Rebecca Boas — a neighbor, and a Staples 2005 grad.

What makes this particularly COVID Roundup-worthy is that Rebecca is now Dr. Boas. She’s an assistant professor of medicine at NYU.

These days, she’s very busy. But she took time out of her Sunday to answer all kinds of listeners’ questions about treatment, masks, etc., etc., etc. Click below for the fascinating segment.

Beechwood Arts’ next immersive, interactive event is this Wednesday, April 8 (6 to 7 p.m.). The theme is “Homebodies,” which should resonate with every Westporter. There’s live music, art and special guests. For more information — including how to log in — click the video below.

Still wondering where to order a Passover or Easter meal? Click on the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s 2 great lists of restaurants, grocery stores and markets that may offer them (scroll down on the home page). OneWestport is another site with similar information.

Statewide, CTBites has its own lists too (including a few caterers).

The crowd may be smaller this year. But the food can be as good as ever.

They should call it “Face the Nation Featuring Scott Gottlieb.” For the 2nd straight week — and 3rd time in 4 — the former FDA commissioner was on the CBS Sunday morning show.

Once again, he appeared live from his Westport home. Click below; jump to 5:58 to see our neighbor. (Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)

And finally, an opera singer serenaded residents of a retirement community in Santa Cruz, California. But he wasn’t the only one there who could sing!