Tag Archives: masks

Roundup: Kings Highway Bridge, Masks, Sip & Swap …

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First the bad news: The Kings Highway North project (connecting Main Street and Canal Street) will not be paved until next spring.

Now the good news: It won’t be closed that long.

Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich says his department (and the rest of the country) has run into supply chain issues. As soon as some piping comes in, they’ll finish the water line. The road will reopen then.

The reason final paving must wait until 2022 is to let all the utility work settle.

Paving of the lower portion of Main Street — where utilities are also going in — may wait until spring too. Ratkiewich said it’s possible to do it in November, but he does not want to disrupt prime shopping season.

Bottom line: All roads will be open, hopefully soon. They just won’t be just-paved smooth.

Once upon a time, traffic flowed easily on Kings Highway North. (Photo courtesy of Google Street View)

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The latest COVID advice from the CDC: Even if you’re vaccinated, you should wear masks indoors if you live in a place with “substantial” or high virus transmission.

The CDC classifies a community as having “substantial transmission” if there are 50 to 99 weekly cases per 100,000 residents or if the positivity rate is between 8.0 and 9.9%.

NPR has a handy tool that lists risks in every US county. As of yesterday, Fairfield County was “moderate” — in other words, below the “substantial” threshold.

Not in Fairfield County? Click here to see how your county is doing.

COVID transmission rates across the US.

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Longtime Westporter Charlene Zeiberg has organized a great women’s clothing “sip and swap” for next Tuesday (August 3, 6 p.m., Unitarian Church parking lot).

There’s a lot going on. It’s a chance to see old friends and meet new ones while trading — not buying! — clothing and accessories. There are adult beverages and nibbles. And voluntary charitable cash donations to the Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Connecticut will be gratefully accepted. Any leftover items will be donated to charities.

Swapper alert: This is not an unload-your-junk tag sale. It’s for high-end, designer-type goods. Each participant must bring at least 10 items. And it’s ladies apparel only — not men’s or children’s. (Of course, all are welcome to attend.)

The deadline to register is this Friday night. Click here for details.

Get rid of your slightly worn gowns on August 3.

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Adam Kaplan is taking the big leap.

The 2008 Staples High School graduate has been cast in Fox’s “dance dramedy “The Big Leap.”

The show-within-a-show “takes viewers on a journey of self-acceptance, body-positivity and empowerment at any age.” It’s described as “a modern tale about second chances, chasing your dreams and taking back what’s yours.”

The show revolves around a group of diverse, down-on-their-luck characters attempting to change their lives by participating in a potentially life-ruining reality dance show that builds to a live production of Swan Lake.

Kaplan’s role is Simon Lovewell. He is a talented dancer, has confidence to spare, and is wildly ambitious. He’s “comfortable in his queerness and likes to challenge expectations about gender in both his attitude and appearance.”

“The Big Leap” is in production in Chicago. It premieres on Fox on September 20 (9 p.m.). Click here for more details.

Kaplan recently wrapped a supporting role in “Mr. Russo,” directed by Ray Romano. He also appeared in a lead role in A Bronx Tale on Broadway opposite Chazz Palminteri, directed by Robert De Niro and Jerry Zaks.

Adam Kaplan

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Earlier this week, “06880” noted Melissa Shapiro’s upcoming appearance (Saturday) on “Good Morning America.”

You can also see the Westport veterinarian Melissa Shapiro live. Next Tuesday (August 3, 7 p.m., Zoom) she’ll discuss her book “Piglet: The Unexpected Story of a Deaf, Blind, Pink Puppy and His Family. It’s the story of how fostering the unwanted dog transformed her, her family, and countless admirers.

Piglet (and Melissa) have been featured in People Magazine, and on NBC Nightly News, CNN, CBS News and more. Click here to see our neighbor (virtually). The event is sponsored by the Westport Library; autographed copies of the book are available here.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” orchids come courtesy of Molly Alger, on Whitney Street:

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And finally … if you’ve followed these “And finally …” videos for any amount of time, you know that Bruce Springsteen is one of my all-time favorite rockers.

His wife, Patti Scialfa, is no slouch herself.

She joins Bruce every night for a few songs at his Broadway show. From my 2nd-row pre-pandemic seat*, it was a riveting performance.

Today is Patti Scialfa’s 68th birthday. Hope she has a brilliant one.

Eat your heart out

 

Marpe Clarifies Mask Rules

First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

We are aware that there has been some confusion around the mask wearing protocols since both the guidance and regulations on mask wearing and social distancing have recently changed. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state or local laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

According to the state Department of Public Health, masks are no longer required outdoors. Those who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask in indoor settings. However, some businesses, state and local government offices, and certain events and event venues, still require universal masking. Masks will still be required in healthcare facilities, facilities serving vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and childcare facilities. Those who are not vaccinated must continue to wear masks indoors when unable to maintain a six-foot distance from others.

Some places still require masks. Don’t abandon all of yours just yet. (Photo/Amy Schneider)

Masks continue to be required for all visitors of Town Hall, indoor town facilities and the Westport Library. We also suggest wearing a mask when in crowded conditions — even outdoors.

Business owners and event operators should consider requiring customers to wear a mask when they are inside an establishment or at a large indoor event or private gathering if the space is not designed for continuous social distancing. If not specifically required, these establishments should consider posting signage indicating that unvaccinated customers must wear a mask and any customer is invited to wear a mask if they are more comfortable doing so.

We are encouraged by the results of the vaccine distribution and the dramatic slowing of the spread experienced in the state, and particularly in Westport. This weekend, we are hoping for good weather for at least part of the time and to be able to conduct the parade as planned. In addition to attending the parade, I hope that you will visit downtown on Saturday and Sunday for the Westport Fine Arts Festival, sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association.

I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend as we continue to emerge from COVID and begin resuming activities in a manner that we were accustomed to prior to the pandemic.

Roundup: Masks, Gatsby Day, Ospreys …

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Yesterday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most situations — including indoors — will be effective next Wednesday (May 19) in Connecticut, Governor Lamont said yesterday.

That’s the date other restrictions will be lifted too.

Connecticut residents can’t abandon their masks just yet. Wait until May 19! (Photo collage/Miggs Burroughs)

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Happy Gatsby Day!

A few years ago, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe declared May 14 “Gatsby Day” in Westport.

That’s the date — 101 years ago today — that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald signed their lease for the house at what is now 244 South Compo Road.

Marpe said that Gatsby Day should be celebrated in perpetuity. COVID has prevented celebrations last year — the centennial! — and this. But historian Deej Webb (who literally wrote the book on “Gatsby in Connecticut”) wants to make sure that Westport remembers the day.

It’s interesting to note that the Roaring ’20s — the decade associated so closely with the legendary author and his wife — were a direct result of the influenza pandemic of 1918-19.

Will a similar decade follow COVID? And if so, will the direct result of the Roaring ’20s — the Great Depression — ensue too?

FUN FITZGERALD FACT: Deej Webb says that the iconic shot of F. Scott and Zelda in front of their Westport house was not, as is often assumed, photoshopped. It’s legit:

We know the Westport Country Playhouse is a town jewel.

So does the National Endowment for the Arts. They just awarded the Playhouse a $10,000 Arts Projects grant. It supports “Ain’t Misbehavin,” the musical planned for 2022.

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Nico Eisenberger writes: “I just witnessed an unbelievable spectacle. Three bald eagles went up against 3 ospreys in a full-on battle for the skies … all right above the new osprey nest on the way to Burying Hill.

“They screeched, swerved, swooped, dove, teamed, ganged, isolated, regrouped and went at it again and again. My measly iPhone photo [below] doesn’t do it justice. It was jaw-dropping.

“I caught a hint of this growing local rivalry a few times over the past few days, but nothing like the epic battle now.

“I am sure there will be more. Fingers crossed for all involved, especially our new nesting pair. So far, it seems they have been able to defend themselves nicely.”

Nico copied Patrick Comins, executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society. He replied:

“This is something we will see more and more of, especially with the overlapping hunting territories of the nesting eagle pair and many ospreys. Bald eagles regularly harass osprey, steal their prey, and occasionally kill or injure ospreys in the process.

“But both species treat each other with some degree of respect, because each can cause damage to the other.”

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

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Now there are 3.

Easton has joined the Westport Weston Health District.

Which means it needs a new name. Suggestions (beyond “Westport Weston Easton Health District,” I guess) are welcome. Email publichealth@wwhd.org.

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The only thing better than al fresco dining may be doing it with the best local bounty. Oh, yeah … with chef Alison Milwe Grace in charge.

The popular caterer works her magic at Wakeman Town Farm on June 12 (6 to 9 p.m.). The menu for the WTF fundraiser (for educational programs) includes chilled spring pea and basil soup, spring vegetables, spring lamb chops with mint chimichurri or herb-dusted salmon over asparagus, with lemon-thyme berry trifles. BYOB adult beverages.

Guests can stroll the grounds and gardens, visit the animals, and enjoy acoustic music.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Alison Milwe Grace, at Wakeman Town Farm.

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And finally … there was no Billboard Hot 100 on May 14, 1920 (the day, noted above, that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald signed their Westport lease). It started August 4, 1958.

However, there are records kept of the top records of 1920. The most popular song that year was Al Jolson’s “Swanee.” “How I love ya, how I love ya …”

The rest of the top songs include a few folks I’ve heard of (Paul Whiteman, Eddie Cantor, Jascha Heifetz, Sergei Rachmaninoff). But 2 titles caught my eye, for different reasons.

There was this topical tune, “Prohibition Blues” …

… and this one: “My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle.” It would never fly today, 101 years later:

Roundup: Jim Belushi, Trader Joe’s, Joe Biden, More


Everyone knew that yesterday’s Saugatuck Survive-OARS “River of Roses” breast cancer benefit would be great.

But Jim Belushi made it even greater.

The actor/comedian/musician played a 30-minute set with the Fake ID band, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

Jim Belushi, in action yesterday.


Jim Belushi was not the only big name in town this weekend.

On Friday night, MoCA Westport hosted Wynton Marsalis, and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet. It was a wonderful evening of music and community — under the stars.

Wynton Marsalis at MoCA. (Photo/John Brody)

Younger artists were highlighted too. The audience was wowed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra High School Academy warmup band, featuring Staples High School senior Dylan Goodman on drums.

(Photo/Leslie LaSala)


An “06880” reader writes:

I was out yesterday doing errands. I wore my mask at Stop & Shop and the post office, but forgot to put it on when I entered Trader Joe’s.

I shopped for 10 minutes, then went through checkout. As I exited the store, I saw another customer walk in and realized, “I forgot to wear my mask!”

No one said a word to me in the store. In fact, I chatted with a nice woman for a few minutes while we waited for the register.

I wish someone had said something to me. I would have dashed outside immediately to get my mask. I felt terrible about it.


Two Old Hill neighborhood residents report Biden/Harris signs being stolen from their property.

Vicki Volper is ” very frustrated and disappointed.” She says a friend elsewhere in Westport had her yard sign taken too.

Nancy Diamond says she will simply purchase a new one — giving even more money to the campaign the thief presumably opposes.


For nearly 50 years, CLASP Homes has created and supported family environments for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

COVID forced the cancelation of the great Taste of Westport fundraiser. A second big event is usually held indoors, at FTC. That’s no longer possible either.

But the show goes on — outdoors. “Flashback to the ’80s & ’90s” is safe, fun, family-friendly entertainment — and it’s live.

Band Central musicians is partnering with the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce for the October 15 show at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Tailgating begins at 4:30 p.m. The show kicks off at 6. Click here for tickets ($150 per car; 70 car limit in the lot).


Today should have been Mercy Learning Center’s big fundraising gala. Instead, it’s postponed a year. The new date is October 3, 2021 at Shorehaven Golf Club.

But the Bridgeport agency — which educates underserved women — has huge needs, now and in the coming months.

  • $50+ purchases school supplies, such as notebooks, pencils, and a calculator for 1 woman.
  • $100+ provides emergency social-service needs for 1 woman.
  • $250+ provides instructional materials for 1 tutored student.
  • $500+ provides instructional materials for 1 Intensive Study Program student.
  • $1,500+ provides for 1 student in the National External Diploma Program.
  • $2,500+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for a child in the MLC Early Childhood Education Program.
  • $5,000+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 1 full-time Intensive Study Program student.
  • $7,500+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 1 full-time Intensive Study Program student and her child in the Early Childhood Education Program.
  • $10,000+ provides a full year of holistic literacy and life skills education for 10 tutored students.

Checks can be sent to Mercy Learning Center, 637 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604. Click here to donate online.


And finally … in case you missed Jim Belushi yesterday at the Saugatuck Rowing Club:

Pics Of The Day #1246

Every day, Rowene Weems takes a walk in Westport. Every day, she sees sights like this.

Sure, it’s great that everyone wears masks. But let’s take the next step, and dispose of them properly. We can do better!

(Photo collage/Rowene Weems)

Marpe: Fight COVID Fatigue!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

As we enter a new month of restrictions and regulations designed to keep ourselves and others safe, it is understandable that some are experiencing “COVID fatigue,” and perhaps becoming too relaxed in abiding by public health requirements.

Westport needs to remain vigilant. We must all maintain social distancing, not gather in large groups, practice diligent hand washing, and continue to be responsible by wearing a face covering whenever leaving our homes. This is especially important during the summer months when we are drawn outside to exercise, shop, dine outdoors and go to the beach.

Wearing a face covering properly over both the nose and mouth protects us, and protects those we may come in contact with. To those who forget, or choose not to wear a face covering: You are placing those around you in an uncomfortable position, and may put their health at risk. Remember to bring your face covering as if it were your cell phone!

There are some who may not agree with the actions that are being taken by town health and safety official. Please: Remember that the best interests of our residents and visitors are foremost in the decision-making process. We want everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy all the town’s amenities in a safe and responsible manner while respecting family, neighbors and friends. Everyone can help by wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.

To date, we have not mandated the wearing of face coverings because my leadership team believes that residents’ personal responsibility in insuring the virus does not spread in this community has a much stronger impact than the imposition of a mandate. I am confident that residents, visitors and guests will be considerate of others. If we all wear face coverings, then we are setting a positive example to those around us. Please continue to be respectful of others, and wear face coverings properly at those times when you are required to do so.

Residents are reminded that weekend traffic and possible overcrowding at town beaches may result in early closure. In an abundance of caution and to insure public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, when a beach reaches a capacity where it is deemed impossible to maintain social distancing, it will be closed to additional beachgoers. Signage at key intersections on local roadways will inform drivers if a beach is closed, and traffic will be diverted from the area. Parking on local streets to avoid the parking lots is not allowed.

Residents who wish to spend the day at a town beach are advised to arrive before 10 a.m. If a beach closes, it may reopen mid to late afternoon, provided safer conditions relative to crowds and social distancing are observed at that time. The town will make every effort to inform residents of the current conditions throughout the day via the Town of Westport and Parks and Recreation Department website homepages, and the Town and Parks and Recreation Facebook pages.

While in the Compo Beach area, please wear a face covering when walking on the boardwalk, using the restrooms or area sidewalks, or any other time when you are unable to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. Please have a face covering available at all times.

Online:  www.westportct.gov/COVID19

Updates:  Sign up for emergency alerts and email subscriptions

Roundup: BMS Masks; Heather Grahame Podcast; More


Everyone needs a mask — a good one. But just a few miles from here, plenty of kids can’t afford one.

In one of the most brilliant partnerships since the pandemic struck, the Bedford Middle School PTA and Westport Masks has teamed up to help the Read School in Bridgeport, which serves 800 youngsters in pre-K through 8.

The PTA is selling masks (and gaiters). For every one sold, two will be donated to Read. The program launched less than a week ago, yet enough orders have already been received to supply 250 masks to Read.

Westport Masks’ team volunteers hand-create each donation mask. The PTA sourced a 2-ply, 100% cotton style mask with a filter pocket. The design is a royal blue and white bandanna print, with 2 layers of 100% cotton and reinforced stitched nose for a comfortable fit. There are adjustable ear straps; another strap allows the mask to hang from the neck. There is no logo. Sizes are teen and adult.

As for gaiters: They are less likely than masks to be lost, can be easily pulled up and down as needed (for drinking water, eating lunch and outside during PE), and are comfortable. Designs include blue camo, blue and white shibori tie-dye, and micro-stripe/blue fade (the only one with the BMS bear logo). One size fits all.

Both styles are washable.

The cost is $20 for the gaiters (1 for your child or yourself, 2 others donated), $14 for the masks. The PTA notes that sales are not restricted to Bedford; everyone can (and should!) buy the face coverings.

To order, click here. To arrange pickup (a week before school begins) or for questions, email bms_pta@westportps.org. To help WestportMasks with sewing or fabric cutting, email westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Gaiters and masks


Heather Grahame has been an athlete all her life. In 1972 she captained Staples High School’s field hockey team. She played 2 more years at Mount Holyoke College, then transferred to Stanford University.

During college summers she leveraged her experience as a Compo Beach lifeguard to teach swimming, water safety and first aid in rural Aleut villages. The state of Alaska funded the program, to combat a high drowning rate.

After graduating from the University of Oregon law school, Grahame headed to Anchorage to practice public utility law. In 2010 she moved to Montana.

She’s on the road a lot. But she finds time to train for triathlons. Though she began when she was 56, it’s a natural for her.

In the 1980s Grahame competed in bicycle racing on the US Women’s Circuit. She placed 6th at the 1988 Olympic team time trials.

She and her family then became competitive sled dog racers. Her top international finish — 6th — came at the 2000 Women’s World Championships.

As for triathlons — well, okay. Grahame actually did a full Ironman. That’s a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

The other day, she was a guest on the Purple Patch Fitness podcast. Host Matt Dixon is a top fitness and triathlon coach. She’s lived most of her life out west, but Grahame talked quite a bit about Westport and Staples sports. Click here for a very entertaining hour.

Heather Grahame (Photo courtesy of Helena Independent Record)


And finally … tonight the Remarkable Theater screens “Elf.” It’s “Christmas in July” — and drive-in moviegoers are encouraged to dress (and decorate their cars) appropriately.

And because we need a little Christmas (right this very minute), here’s “06880”s contribution. Starring, of course, our talented and beloved former neighbor, Eartha Kitt.

 

0*6*Art*Art*0 — Week 19 Gallery

It’s mid-summer. But this is a great arts town. Readers of all ages keep sending work, for the Saturday morning gallery that began in early spring.

Professional, amateur, old, young — we want it all. Every medium is welcome. We especially love student art!

The only rule: Your art must be inspired by, reflective of, or otherwise related to the times we’re going through — or the times we’ve lost. Email dwoog@optonline.net.

John McKinney spotted this patriotically decorated storm drain on Fairfield Avenue, near Compo Beach.

Rebecca Ross drew this of her cousin, who works on the front lines at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

While staying home, Jana Ireijo has painted murals in her backyard. She created this, on her garage, in reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement. The charcoal (sent to her from a bushfire site in Australia) is not permanent. It will wash away in the rain.

“If Wishes Were Hugs” (Ellin Spadone)

“A Sign of the Times” (Karen Weingarten)

“Another Sargent” (Lawrence Weisman)

“Create Balance” (Amy Schneider)

COVID Roundup: No Camp Compo Or RECing Crew; Antibodies And Masks; More


One more casualty of COVID-19: Westport Parks & Recreation’s long-running, popular Camp Compo and RECing Crew programs.

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava says:

“Due to the many restrictions placed upon camps by the state, the limited number of children that could be served, limitations of our facilities, the challenge of social distancing, and the new unknowns related to Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, we are concerned about our ability to provide these programs in a safe manner. Additionally, they would not be the camp experiences that our campers and parents have come to expect.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe adds, “This was not an easy decision to make, but after consulting with staff and the Westport Weston Health District, we believe this is the right decision for our specific programs.  The health and safety of our participants and staff, and the larger community, is our foremost concern. In light of that and the uncertainties related to the Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome, there was too much health risk as it pertains to these programs.”

Other Parks & Rec summer programs are being evaluated and restructured to meet requirements. Information will be provided as soon as they are finalized.


This weekend on Hillspoint Road, Peter Maloney asked a 40-something woman to please use a mask as she walked near him.

“Not a problem! I have the antibodies,” she chirped.

Of course, Peter — and most Westporters — don’t have “the antibodies.”

Earth to woman: It’s not always about you.


And finally … the holiday’s over. Back to work (from home)!

COVID-19 Roundup: Office Evolution, Finding Westport, Diapers, Masks, Loose Change And More

A year ago, Office Evolution opened across from Fire Department headquarters. It was the newest entrant into the rapidly developing market for co-working spaces.

On its first anniversary, COVID-19 hit. Suddenly, working remotely was imperative. Yet so was avoiding other people.

Because it delivers mail, and some members do “essential” work, Office Evolution is considered an essential business. Doors are locked, but members have 24/7 access via electronic fobs.

Owner Laura Kaufman knows that working from home is new for many people. So she’s looking for pictures and stories of how that’s going. Anyone posting on Facebook, Instagram, NextDoor or LinkedIn (Office Evolution Westport) will receive a $25 gift card, and a chance to win up to $1,000 more. For more information click here, email westport.ct@officeevolution.com, or call 203-635-8770.

Office Evolution


To the list of great resources for finding what’s open in Westport — restaurants, stores and more — check out FindingWestport, on Instagram and online. It includes store hours, phone numbers and hyperlinks.


Mercy Learning Center has been gratified by the response from “06880” readers to their plea for food, supplies, and funds for rent and bills for the hundreds of women they serve so well in Bridgeport.

Another overwhelming response came from Gina Oliveira Beranek. After posting a request on Facebook’s great Westport Front Porch page, she and another driver headed yesterday to MLC. Their cars were stocked with food — and over 4,800 diapers.

Way to go, Gina and all you Porchers!


As “06880” has reported, Virginia Jaffe and her Greens Farms Elementary School sewing moms are busy every day, making masks. And, Virginia reports, their efforts are paying rewards.

Yesterday they donated 90 to Homes with Hope residents. Since March 30, they’ve given away 350 masks, to bus drivers and other frontline personnel.

There are now 10 seamstresses and 6 fabric cutters, all across Westport. They need help: cutting, sewing, and donating funds to buy fabric, threads and elastic. Just email westportmasks@yahoo.com.

Every donor will get the satisfaction of helping. Plus — just as important — every donor gets a mask.

Virginia adds that the group encourages children to wear masks, by making plain white ones that can be decorated with personal designs. Here’s Jake Martin, with his special theme (and disinfectant):


Every day, Larry Weisman puts his loose change in a jar. The last time he went to the bank, there was $800. He gave it to his grandchildren.

Now — in light of the need, and with the support of his grandkids — he’s donating the money to World Central Kitchen. Jose Andreas’ extraordinary non-profit has already furnished a million meals to hospitals and those in need, while also providing much needed work for restaurants employees.

It’s a great cause. Larry urges “06880” readers to donate their spare change too.


And finally, Ringo Starr, Robbie Robertson and a host of other great musicians were social distancing months before it was a thing: