Tag Archives: COVID

COVID, Flu, RSV: Looking Ahead To Winter

Right now, Bridgeport Hospital is caring for 30 COVID patients.

That’s down drastically from the height of the pandemic, when they filled 300 beds.

Most of us no longer wear masks. We’ve stopped social distancing; we gather once again in large groups, and greet relatives and friends with hugs and kisses.

But we would be foolish to let our guards down too much and too fast, says Zane Saul.

He should know. The 32-year resident of Westport and Weston is Bridgeport Hospital’s chief of infectious diseases.

Dr. Zane Saul

He was on the front lines, when the coronavirus roared across the globe. He remembers those early days of terror, confusion, and the all-hands-on-deck, throw-whatever-we’ve-got-at-it approach that was all he and his colleagues could do for nearly a year, until vaccines were developed, produced and shipped.

Now, he says, most people in this area have been vaccinated. That, along with monoclonal antibodies, means that although people still contract COVID, they’re not as sick as before.

They’re not intubated as often. They’re not dying as much.

Dr. Saul says a very obese, unvaccinated woman was admitted this fall to Bridgeport Hospital. She spent several weeks on a respirator.

But she made it. Two years ago, she would not have.

Now, the weather is turning cold. People spend more time indoors. We’re excited for the first big holiday gatherings in 3 years.

The number of COVID cases will rise again, Dr. Saul says.

It’s not back. It never left.

So will diagnoses of flu and respiratory syncytial virus — RSV, which is especially dangerous to infants and young children. Bridgeport Hospital’s pediatric wing is already full of young RSV patients, Dr. Saul says.

The reason for the triple rise is simple. After 2 years of masks — which limited the spread of not only COVID, but other diseases — we are once again breathing on and close to each other.

What can we do?

“Get a flu shot!” Dr. Saul urges. “It’s effective. The match to this year’s strain is very good.

“If you’re sick, stay home. COVID quarantine is only 5 days now. Basic handwashing is important too.”

Dr. Zane Saul says …

And of course: Get your vaccines and booster shots.

Dr. Saul knows that “COVID fatigue” is real. He understands that people are tired of hearing they should get yet another booster vaccine.

But they should.

“I can’t blame them for how they feel,” Dr. Saul says. “Still, COVID isn’t gone. The latest variant lasts longer. It’s not a walk in the park.

“But with vaccines and boosters, you won’t get as sick. You won’t get hospitalized. You won’t die.”

Dr. Saul began training in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. For years, patients died. Then in 1995, “cocktail” medications became available. HIV is now a manageable disease.

He thought AIDS was the worst he’d ever see. Three decades later, he faced the “exhausting and terrifying” COVID pandemic.

Though everyone is eager to get back to their pre-2020 lives, the threat remains.

So, Dr. Saul says: Be smart. Take advice seriously.

And “listen to science. Science is good. It’s gotten us to where we are now.”

Which — even in Bridgeport Hospital — is a pretty good place.

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Bridgeport Hospital

COVID And Divorce: Carole Orland Splits The Difference

The crucible of COVID drew many couples together.

Spending much more time than usual together, sharing parenting and household and professional duties like never before, they found strength and bonds that may have frayed over the years.

But the pandemic also caused many marriages to founder.

Stuck at home, without the usual distractions of offices and friends, some couples grew apart. Partners magnified their spouses’ flaws — real or imagined. Add in kid issues, mental health challenges and more, and the stresses mounted.

Maybe they had talked about divorce before the virus. Maybe not.

Either way, Carole Orland says, they’re talking about it now.

She should know. A partner at Westport-based Broder Orland Murray & DeMattie, she — and the firm — specialize in family law.

Which often means “divorce.”

Carole Orland

It sounds like a difficult specialty. But, the Worcester native and longtime Westport resident says, it is “an opportunity to help people who are in a bad way. It’s rewarding to see the process. By the end they feel better about themselves and their circumstances. They’re ready for their lives to really take off.”

Orland also likes the chance to be involved in other areas of law, like trusts and estates, and torts. She has a wide range of clients — in finance, business, sports, entertainment and blue-collar jobs — and learns something new in every case.

She learns about law. And she learns about human nature.

Is it depressing?

“That’s not the right word,” she counters. “It’s sad, sometimes. You see emotions, afflictions, addictions, abuse — bad stuff. My challenge is to get them to a better place. It’s not just about the divorce itself. We don’t just drop them off at the end.”

COVID shut down her office in March 2020, as it did many others. But they reopened in mid-May. Courts were closed; remote proceedings had not yet begun.

But the floodgates opened. And she has been busy ever since.

The pandemic changed how divorce looks, Orland says. As more fathers work and spend time at home, child custody arrangements evolve.

Employment is different too. COVID caused some people to reassess their work. “High flyers may not be in jobs that are as lucrative now,” Orland notes. “And other people lost their jobs.”

At the same time, people used the pandemic to move to higher-paying careers. Others found themselves in industries, like real estate, which boomed.

All of those situations force new looks at divorce settlements already in place. That’s even more work for Orland.

Not all of her job involves splits. She also arranges pre-nuptials. Marriages declined during the worst months of COVID. Now there’s a rush to the altar — and more clients.

“We were crazy busy before,” Orland says. “Now it’s really insane.”

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Friday Flashback #288

It was 2 years ago — right around now — that COVID came to Westport.

They’ve been 2 very, very long years. At times, it seems like 2 centuries.

There is so much about the virus we know now  And there was so much about what lay ahead that we had absolutely no clue of.

Here’s how “06880” reported that first day, when — suddenly, justlikethat — the entire town shut down.

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The weather outside Town Hall was springlike and beautiful.

The faces on the officials arrayed on the front steps were grim.

First selectman Jim Marpe, Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper, Westport Public Schools director of administration John Bayers and others outlined today’s rapid developments regarding COVID-19.

Flanked by town officials, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe announces the latest COVID-19 news. From left: Fire Chief and town emergency management head Robert Yost; Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper; Police Chief Foti Koskinas; Westport Public Schools director of administration John Bayers; 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, and 3rd Selectwoman Melissa Kane.

Last Thursday (March 5), approximately 40 people attended a private party in Westport.

One attendee — a man from an unnamed other nation — was there. He’d been in the US, and was headed home. He did not feel ill.

When he returned to his home country, he developed flu-like symptoms. WWHD officials received verbal notification today that he tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the 40 or so attendees at the party, approximately 14 have since reported flu-like symptoms. “We’re making the assumption it’s COVID-19,” Cooper said. The Health District is compiling a list of all attendees, and assessing their conditions.

“It’s likely many people were exposed,” Cooper said. “And others will be.”

Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper.

The party included school-age children. When education officials learned the news, shortly before noon, they made the decision to close all Westport public schools.

Schools will be closed — along with all related activities — for an undetermined period of time. Meanwhile, deep cleaning of all buildings will begin.

“The schools have been working closely for several weeks with the Health District,” Bayers noted. “Our plans were accelerated today.”

His office will communicate information about next steps for students tonight and tomorrow. More updates will follow, in the days ahead.

Westport Public Schools director of administration John Bayers.

Also closed: Town Hall.

Marpe announced it will be shut tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday. Officials will spend time determining how best to offer essential services to the public, while maintenance staff performs deep cleaning.

All municipal meetings are canceled for “the foreseeable future,” Marpe said. The first casualties: Thursday’s Planning & Zoning and Board of Finance sessions.

Human Services Department head Elaine Daignault noted that — as announced earlier today — the Senior Center is closed. The Toquet Hall teen center is similarly shut.

Senior Center director Sue Pfister (far right) listens to the press conference.

Daignault reiterated that staff will assist anyone, such as seniors and people with financial need, despite the closures. Meals to homebound residents will continue to be delivered. For questions or more information, call 203-341-1050.

“We’ll maintain essential services,” she said, urging Westporters to be “good neighbors” to those in need.

Westport Library director Bill Harmer said that his facility will be closed tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday for deep cleaning. Meanwhile, the staff will devise plans moving forward.

The library will reopen Monday for “essential services” only: book checkouts, and reference questions. Harmer encouraged residents to use the library’s extensive digital resources.

Print and television reporters kept their distance from each other, at the press conference on the steps of Town Hall. (Photos/Dan Woog)

The Parks & Recreation Department is limiting the use of fields. The goal is to “avoid gatherings,” Marpe said.

Marpe called the COVID-19 crisis “a constantly evolving situation,” then asked for questions.

In response to one about the availability of test kits, Cooper said that the Health District has been told, “they’re coming.”

Marpe has spoken with Governor Ned Lamont about the issue.

“He’s as frustrated as we are that the kits are not available yet,” the first selectman said. “He’s using every technique possible to get them.”

Marpe reiterated the basic health advice — “wash your hands!” — and noted the importance of avoiding large gatherings.

Private institutions must decide for themselves which events to cancel. “We recognize these are tough decisions,” he said.

Long COVID: One Woman’s Story

Laurie* was active. She led full, rewarding professional and social lives. She’d always eaten well, taken vitamins and supplements, and exercised faithfully. She was double vaxxed against COVID, and boosted.

On December 28 she tested positive for the virus. Besides a brief period when her oxygen level plummeted, she had mild symptoms: a slight sniffle and cough.

“That was easy,” she thought.

Six weeks later, the after-effects hit.

Laurie felt like she was hungover — all the time. Her eyes were sensitive to light. Her brain was foggy. She forgot things, like what day it was or where she’d parked her car. Her hands shook.

She was constantly exhausted. At 11:30 a.m., she could barely hold her head up. She napped for 2 hours at midday. At night she had trouble sleeping.

After 20 years of yoga and Pilates, she could not even walk down the street.

“I had no life, no vitality,” Laurie says.

Laurie’s internist did blood work, but said nothing could help.

Week after week, Laurie’s symptoms dragged on. Fortunately, she says, she did not feel sorry for herself, or fall into depression.

“Maybe it’s because I was proactive,” she suggests. “I tried to find solutions. I didn’t sit around thinking ‘woe is me.'”

Finally, her holistic chiropractor suggested increasing her daily dose of curcumin. She also started red light therapy and infrared saunas at Restore Cryotherapy.

Over the past few days, Laurie has started to feel better. She is not sure she’s out of the woods, though. She knows she could relapse.

She’s telling her story because she wants to help people understand COVID. Many friends were sympathetic. Colleagues covered for her at work.

But some people could not empathize. She hopes that sharing her struggle will help readers become more knowledgeable about the effects of the virus.

Laurie is not “the” face of COVID. The disease takes many forms. It runs its course in many ways.

But she is one face of COVID.

And she is a reminder that our fight against it is a long way from over.

*Not her real name. For medical privacy, she asked to be identified by a different name.

Unmasked Monday

Today, the masks come off.

Since August 2020, Westport schools have been under a mask mandate. For 18 months, everyone — students, staff, custodians, cafeteria workers, the few visitors allowed in — has spent every minute inside with half their face covered.

Seniors in high school, kindergarteners, principals — it did not matter how old or young you were. If you were in school, you wore a mask.

Students watching lessons at home via Zoom saw their teachers covered (and heard their voices muffled). Chorus members sang and actors acted with masks. Indoor athletes practiced and played with masks (though this winter, they were generally worn around the neck).

Masks at this year’s Candlelight Concert. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Today, teachers will see this year’s students’ faces for the first time. And vice versa.

It will be different. Odd. For some it will be liberating. For others, scary.

It’s a major step on the road back to normalcy — or at least, to the Before Times. It’s a significant indicator that although COVID is still with us, we’re now figuring out how to live with it, rather than be ruled by it.

We’ve come a long way from just 6 weeks ago, when Omicron stunned us with its sudden surge. Just as the experts predicted though, it ebbed as quickly as it flowed.

A new variant no doubt awaits. It may be more or less transmissible than others. It may target a different population. It may affect people in different ways, or be a more or less lethal version of what we’ve seen.

We may go back to masks, temporarily. Some people will continue to wear them, everywhere or in certain places. But I can’t imagine we’ll go back to another 18 months of masks in schools.

Just as we won’t go back to washing our hands like OCD sufferers, for 2 “Happy Birthday” stanzas at a time. Nor will we once again quarantine our food outdoors for 48 hours, after wiping down every piece of fruit, carton of milk and box of cereal.

Still, we’ll take some lessons from the 18 months of masks. We’ve learned that they prevent more than COVID. It’s been a long time since I’ve had even a cold, and this flu season has been a breeze. The next time something is “going around,” we’ll see masks again — and no one will think twice about them.

Another lesson: We can do this. If you had told me in March of 2020 that 2 years later we’d still be battling COVID — and that, despite a vaccine developed in record time, huge swaths of Americans refused to take it — I’d have said, “No way can we hang in that long.”

But hang in we did. We had to. The coronavirus hung around too. We had no choice.

So now we look ahead. Restaurants are filling back up. The newcomers who flooded into Westport over the past 2 years — families that loved discovering their new community, even during a lockdown — are starting to see just how great this place really is.

The biggest party in town — the 4th of July fireworks — is back on. (Actually, they’re June 30th. That’s just 4 days fewer to wait.)

Fireworks return on June 30th. (Photo/David Squires)

But back to the start of this story: the kids.

There may be collateral damage from the past 18 months. The youngest children — those who have never known a mask-free school — may carry this with them forever.

I think about everyone who grew up in the Depression. For the rest of their lives — no matter how well-off and secure they were — they ate everything on their plate. And they turned off every light when they left a room, to “save the electric.”

But I also know that kids are resilient. They’re adaptable. They’re flexible.

And they’ve complained far less about masks than adults.

There may be some strange moments today, when the masks come off in school. Soon enough though, it will be back to normal.

Or whatever passes for the New Normal these days.

Tooker: Westport Is Mask Optional On February 28

On February 28, Westport becomes a “mask optional community.”

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker made that announcement today, on behalf of the town’s COVID-19 Emergency Management Team.

The date corresponds with similar lifting of restrictions by the state of Connecticut, and the anticipated ending of mandatory masks in Westport Public Schools.

Masks may still be required in other locations outside the municipal authority. They include healthcare facilities, those housing vulnerable populations, and public and private transit. Some Westport establishments and locations may continue to maintain a full mask policy.

Most Westporters will no longer be required to wear masks. (Photo/Topsy Siderowf)

Tooker says, “We are comfortable and confident that requiring masks in municipal buildings is no longer a necessity, with the exceptions noted. Certainly, there are those who will continue to wear a mask in certain circumstances, and we respect and encourage that personal choice.

“I am very proud to be leading this resilient community. Since early 2020, we have all  had to navigate the many phases of COVID. Being mask optional is an encouraging development in yet another phase that we will navigate together.”

Scarice Explains Mask Mandate Elimination

At last night’s Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice recommended an elimination of the mask mandate for all students and staff effective February 28, the day the winter break ends.

In a community message today, he elaborated on his rationale:

The elimination of the universal mask mandate by the governor, supported by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, indicates that universal masking is not a necessary public health intervention at this point in time. If this were a necessary public health intervention, the mandate would continue as it was renewed in the past by the Governor when necessitated.

The infection rates in the region, and in particular the Westport community and Westport Public Schools, have dropped precipitously over the past month. Virus prevalence is a significant factor in determining the need for various mitigating measures, including masking. The prevalence rate is bottoming out, and possibly reaching a level that could be expected to be our new normal.

Average daily COVID cases in Fairfield County, May 2020 to February 2022.

Westport is among the highest vaccinated communities in the state, providing strong support against health complications as a result of contracting the virus.  In addition, the widespread infection rate of the Omicron variant also provided significant levels of natural immunity to our community. Furthermore, this most recent virus strain appears to be less virulent than earlier variants, such as Delta.

Fidelity to mask wearing is critical to the success of this intervention.  Throughout the pandemic our students and staff were vigilant in properly wearing masks, and most importantly, time outside of school was largely reinforced by consistency in mask wearing as this was an expectation in all settings for our students (i.e. community places, extracurricular activities, etc.).

However, for our students now, school is one of the few locations where masks are regularly worn and mandated. Additionally, the fidelity of proper mask wearing has waned significantly over the past few months according to faculty and building administrators, particularly at the secondary level. Mask quality has also been called into question during the Omicron surge.

Maintaining a mandate when proper mask wearing is limited, and when most students do not wear masks outside of the school setting while interacting with each other, provides a false sense of security and a false impression of the efficacy of mandated universal masking in our schools.

Scarice noted that mitigation measures like ventilation, social distancing and hand hygiene will continue to be implemented. Serial testing will continue through the end of March. Daily reports of new cases will also continue, and local conditions will be monitored closely.

He added:

Students, their families, and anyone on our WPS team may choose to continue to wear a mask, commonly referred to as “one-way” masking. “One-way” masking works and provides protection for an individual.

Eliminating the universal mandate does not eliminate all measures of protection. As we evolve through the stages of the pandemic, I suspect that a gradual lifting of individual choice in masking will unfold. Some will choose to no longer wear a mask and, perhaps over time, others will choose the same. In the interim, “one-way” masking will be honored and respected in our schools, and it will provide additional protection for individuals.

Some students will continue to wear masks. This painting — “Masked COVID Portrait” is by Westport teenager Dereje Tarrant.

Scarice said that the elimination of the governor’s emergency order means that school districts will no longer need to require proof of vaccination or approval of a medical or religious exemption from vaccination for prospective employees.

Also eliminated: the requirement for employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. And the district will no longer require vaccination, or proof of a negative test, for visitors. 

Scarice’s recommendations apply to all students and stuff, including Stepping Stones Preschool.

Federal requirements still mandates that masks be worn on school buses.

Scarice continued:

It has been pointed out that students return from the February break when the mask mandate is lifted. There have been concerns about a potential spike in infection rates upon return from vacation.

I do not see the recent winter break as an appropriate comparison since that surge was driven by the Omicron variant.However, we did experience a number of families traveling during the Thanksgiving break and did not experience an increase in infection rates.

Furthermore, I believe that a continued mandate in response to the vacation break would have minimal impact in mitigation as students are largely not wearing masks in any other activities or events in the community.

As mentioned earlier, throughout the pandemic students were vigilant in properly wearing masks, and most importantly, time outside of school was largely reinforced by consistency in mask wearing as this was an expectation in all settings for our students (i.e. community places, extracurricular activities, etc.).

However, if school is the only location where masks will be mandated following the vacation, I believe that we would gain little more than a false sense of security and a false impression of the efficacy of mandating masks in schools for an additional week or two. Again, students and staff may continue with “one-way” masking.

Given our high vaccination rates, the lack of an increase in infection rates after Thanksgiving, and the inconsistency in the fidelity of mask wearing, in and outside of our school environment, I do not believe that postponing the elimination of the mask mandate is necessary.

As to enforcing “one-way masking,” Scarice said:

Individuals (i.e. students and staff) may choose to continue to wear a mask.  The district, all faculty, support staff and administrators, support this choice for individuals. However, we will not have the capacity to track and enforce individual choice for each student if parents require their child to continue wearing masks. As a district, we will honor and support each family’s choice, yet we will not enforce “one-way” masking for each child.

Scarice asked that parents help with the transition away from a mask mandate:

Preparing for change by engaging in a conversation and allowing your child to ask questions can reduce any stress and anxiety.

Some students may be eager to remove their mask and return to some sense of normalcy. For others, this change can create anxiety for a variety of reasons, including health concerns and fears about being judged for wearing or not wearing a mask.

As in most situations, children follow the example of their parents and primary caregivers. Expressing your thoughts and feelings about masking and unmasking will be important to help your child understand why your family has made the choice to continue or discontinue wearing a mask in school.

Students will be reminded at school that each family is making a decision based on what is best for them, as we all have different circumstances. There is no right or wrong. We want to be sure everyone feels safe and accepted in school, whether they are wearing a mask or not.

Children should be encouraged to state that they feel more comfortable wearing or not wearing a mask and that it’s OK if their friend chooses something different. If at any time your child feels that others are making them feel uncomfortable about wearing or not wearing a mask, they should let their teacher or another trusted adult at school know immediately.

Similarly, parents are encouraged to contact their child’s teacher or building principal if they have concerns. School psychologists, counselors, and social workers are available to support students if needed.

Navigating this transition in school is new for everyone, and we will need to work together to support our children through this new experience.

Scarice concluded:

As I stated in my message to the community on Friday, many issues in the modern world have become polarizing, including universal masking. The district team is committed to supporting the personal choice of each individual student and staff member, and to protecting everyone in our school community from unwelcome comments and behaviors.

Lack of respect or inappropriate comments or behaviors will not be tolerated as families consider what is best for their child and family.

We will continue to carefully monitor case rates and attendance and evaluate any new guidance issued by the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Adjustments to our approach will be made as necessary.

Signs, Social Media Urge: “Unmask Our Children”

Connecticut’s statewide school mask mandate expires February 15. Pressure is growing on Governor Lamont to end it immediately — and for legislators not to extend it, when they vote February 10.

If the state mandate expires, local school districts could implement their own policies.

Local “Mask Choice” groups sprang up earlier in towns like Fairfield, Wilton and Darien. In the past couple of days, “Mask Choice Westport signs” appeared in front yards and public spaces.

A sign near the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown … (Photo submitted by “WestportParents06880@Gmail.com”)

On social media, the handle is @MaskChoiceWestport. As of last night, an Instagram account with that name had posted 31 times — mostly links to news stories, opinion pieces and videos — and had 463 followers.

A reader told “06880”: “Parents are sending letters to Lamont, state representatives, the Board of Education, our superintendent, the Connecticut Teachers Association, and anyone else who would listen. This is the hot topic of all the parents I know right now.”

Statewide, 86% of 16- and 17-year-olds, and 79% of those 12 to 15 have received at least one COVID vaccine dose. The figure for 5- to 11-year-olds is 44%.

Cases have dropped sharply in Fairfield County since their mid-January Omicron peak.

… and the Sherwood Island Connector. (Photo/Seth Schachter)

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice notes that the topic has caused “a great deal of division in both the public health and medical community, as well as in the school community.” The district “will continue to receive guidance from our local health district, medical advisor and the state Department of Public Health,” he says.

Scarice adds:

At the outset of the pandemic and the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, the district took a very conservative approach to our learning models and mitigating measures.

Since last January, we have learned a great deal and provided increased access to programs and services within the guidance we have been provided. Not only have we remained fully open, including extracurricular programs, we have consistently peeled back layers of mitigation when the opportunities have presented themselves.  I anticipate that we will take the same approach with universal masking based on the guidance we receive.

“06880” attempted to speak with a spokesperson for “MaskChoiceWestport.” However, contact information was not immediately available.

Roundup: School Visitors, Stop & Shop, Lunar New Year …

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With COVID cases decreasing, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice has announced that as of January 31, visitors will be allowed back in buildings. All visitors will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test administered 72 prior to the visit.

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Stop & Shop may still be confounding customers with its “redesign.” But they are on the ball with one thing. Last week, “06888” called the supermarket out on their flyer, which announced their “reopening” (though they never closed) as taking place in “East Westport.”

This week, they got it right:

Now, if we can just figure out where they moved the coffee to … (Hat tip: Beth Keane)

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In just a year of operation, AAPI Westport has made its mark on Westport.

Next up: a Lunar Year celebration. It’s set for the Westport Weston Family Y, on Saturday, February 5 (1 to 3 p.m.).

On tap: crafts, games and a cooking demonstration (dumplings!). Everyone is welcome.

The event is free. Registration is recommended, but not required; click here.

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Congratulations to the Staples/Stamford/Westhill girls ice hockey coop team. They’re the Ruden Report Team of the Week, following a great 0-0 tie against powerhouse Darien.

The girls practice at 5:30 a.m. — in Stamford — once a week. But you can catch them working out on Fridays after school, at the Longshore PAL rink.

The Staples/Stamford/Westhiill girls ice hockey coop team.

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Ever since COVID struck, Westporters have discovered the wide open spaces and beauty of Sherwood Island State Park. Fred Cantor took this “Westport … Naturally” photo last week.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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And finally … today is the birthday of Chita Rivera. The actress/singer/dancer is 89 years old.

Unsung Heroes #223

Last week, “06880” saluted Saugatuck Elementary School nurse Jane Sandri, and all her colleagues in the Westport district.

Being a school nurse in the best of times is a herculean — and thankless — task.

These are not the best of times.

Today we honor all those other healthcare workers on the frontlines during the pandemic.

Doctors, nurses, and the staffs in their medical offices. All have spent nearly 2 years dealing with the disease, up close and personal. They’ve diagnosed, treated and reassured their patients, while at the same time worrying about their families and loved ones — and themselves.

The men and women at the Westport Weston Health District. In a time of constantly shifting information, they’re out steady-as-she-goes go-to resources.

The pharmacists at CVS, Walgreens, Colonial Pharmacy, Achorn’s and elsewhere answer panicked questions and give vaccines in addition to their usual duties — and everyone else in their stores, who has been caught up in this tsunami.

Emergency workers like police, firefighters and EMTs have had far more than their share of interactions with COVID patients (and those they fear may be, or don’t even know themselves).

Ditto everyone who has volunteered at a vaccine clinic, or helped distribute testing kids.

And of course all those who work every day at a test center.

I’m sure there are many others who spend every day — 24/7/365 — deep in this viral mess.

If you’ve served us in any way throughout the crisis, you’ve done something special. That’s why you’re “06880”‘s Unsung Heroes of the Week.

And the year.

Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email nominations to dwoog@optonline.net.