Tag Archives: Westport Weston Health District

Roundup: Hot Yoga Closes; Book Donations; Contact Tracing; Commuter Survey; More

 

 


Hot Yoga writes:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we tell you we are closing the doors to Westport (/Fairfield) Hot Yoga. This was a difficult decision that was made very consciously, and for a variety of reasons both in and out of our control.

“For 10 ½ years, we brought you the very best hot yoga that we know how. We also spent this time building an incredibly strong and resilient community of beautiful yogis, of which you are an integral member. This is not goodbye. This is just so long for now.

“We feel very connected to each of you in our own way, and hope we can continue to grow and develop these relationships with you, although it will not be at 877 Post Road East. With everlasting grace and gratitude — Rich, Abbey and Yogi.””


There’s a (relatively) new liquor store. An established (and much beloved) donut shop. Across the street will be a (very) new restaurant.

And — in mid-September — Outpost Pizza establishes an outpost at the site of a former dry cleaners, near Coffee An’, The Grapevine, and the new spot soon to replace 323.

Outpost has a great reputation in Stamford. Their prices are good. They’ll be welcomed to the neighborhood, for sure.


Westport Library Book Sales has been “overwhelmed by the generosity of our community.”

They resumed collections yesterday at 9 a.m. By 2 p.m. the shed was full.

Donations must be quarantined for 3 days, so no more can be accepted now. Donations resume next Thursday.

For more information, click here.


The Westport Weston Health District says: Be aware of scammers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers!

Impostors claim to work for “the sheriff’s office” or local health department. They say they need to load “contact tracing software” onto a victim’s computer. 

Do not fall for these scammers. Official contact tracers working on behalf of the WWHD or state Department of Public Health will never ask to enter your home, threaten you with a fine, or ask you for personal financial information. Anyone asking for such information is trying to steal your identity, money or both.

If someone asks to enter your home for “contact tracing,” call the police immediately.  Do not let strangers into your home.

Other things to be alert for if you receive a call:

  • Do not pay a contact tracer. Anyone who says you must pay is a scammer.
  • Do not give out your Social Security number or financial information. There is no reason why a legitimate tracer would need these.
  • Do not share your immigration status. Legitimate contact tracers do not need, and will not ask for, this information.
  • Do not download anything onto your computer. Real contact tracers will not ask you to download any software on your computer.

Contact tracing is an important component of public health, and an essential tool to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Connecticut’s contact tracing initiative is completely voluntary. There is no cost to participate. If you do participate, you may elect to receive daily health assessment reminders via text, email or phone. You will be reminded to do a simple assessment of your symptoms each day.

All information is strictly confidential. Contacts who are identified will not be given information on cases (such as the name of the person who may have exposed them).


The state Department of Transportation is conducting a brief survey about commuting during COVID-19. Answers will help the agency plan funding for future projects.

If you were or are a commuter, click here to take the survey.


MoCA Westport invites all Fairfield County teenagers interested in the arts to join its new Teen Council.

The Council will connect the museum with area youth through events, exhibitions, performances and educational programming. Teen Council members will develop strong relationships with prominent artists and community leaders as they explore their personal creativity.

Teen Council members will enjoy behind-the-scenes access to MoCA Westport — and free memberships.

Click here to apply, Questions? Email teencouncil@mocawestport.org or check out Instagram: @mocawestportteens.


And finally … happy 85th birthday, Peter Schickele!

Contact Tracing: Health District Protocols

In the wake of yesterday’s disclosure of a COVID-19 positive employee at Longshore Sailing School, the Westport Weston Health District fielded a number of questions about contact tracing.

Director Mark Cooper noted that because the employee does not live in Westport or Weston, that person’s local public health authority is doing the contact tracing, as required by law.

Cooper also sent this information, from director of clinical care Louis D’Onofrio:

Westport Weston Health District has performed contact tracing for communicable diseases since it was established in the 1960s. Contact tracing is a fundamental public health activity that enables public health officials to slow the spread of infectious diseases.

The WWHD began contact tracing for COVID-19 in early March of this year. Our clinical team, along with trained volunteers, is responsible for and has been managing contact tracing activities for every reported positive case in residents of Westport and Weston.

The Westport Weston Health District works with Connecticut’s statewide confidential software system to monitor the health and wellbeing of people affected by COVID-19. The information collected in contact tracing is used to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

All WWHD staff and volunteers have completed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention training prior to performing COVID-19 contact tracing.  The majority of volunteers are a medical professional of some kind (nurse practitioner, medical doctor, registered nurse or medical assistant), and/or is a member of our Medical Reserve Corps.

Each public health jurisdiction in Connecticut is informed by the State Department of Public Health of a suspected or active COVID-19 case in their jurisdiction. The WWHD serves both Westport and Weston, thus it is our responsibility to contact residents in both.

The COVID-19 virus

WWHD staff then contacts that person and asks multiple survey questions using the state assessment outline. The survey collects basic information on symptoms, the ability to self-isolate, and assesses unmet needs (such as access to food, housing, healthcare, etc.), to connect people who are being asked to isolate with the resources needed to be successful. All information collected will remain confidential, and contacts who are identified will not be given information on cases (such as the person who may have exposed them).

If a positive COVID-19 person informs the interviewing WWHD staff member of another  person who may have been exposed to them and that places that person at risk, per CDC recommendations*, then the WWHD contacts that new person. If the person is not a Westport or Weston resident, we inform other local health departments via the CT DPH software, and their own town of residence public health agency performs that contact tracing.

Click here to learn more about contact tracing. We appreciate the public’s cooperation if contacted, as we must all work together to slow the spread.

*For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.  The public health evaluation of close contacts to patients with laboratory-confirmed or probable COVID-19 may vary depending on the exposure setting. Contacts in special populations and/or congregate settings require additional considerations and may need handoff to a senior health department investigator or special team. 

Health District Chief Addresses COVID Numbers, Tests And More

As of yesterday, Westport had 233 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 13 COVID-associated deaths.

Today, Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper said that while all data is preliminary, the number of cases and associated deaths have increased, while the number of hospitalizations has decreased.

Day to day changes reflect newly reported cases, deaths, and tests administered up to a week prior. Reported deaths can lag by up to 10 days due to issues with data collection. COVID-associated death numbers may go up or down, as medical providers and epidemiologists continue to refine case definitions and audit autopsy reports.

Cooper said that early efforts to flatten the curve by social distancing are having positive impacts. Westport and Weston’s case rates (829 and 615, respectively per 100,000) are lower than many nearby communities.

Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper (right) and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, at a March 11 press conference.

Cooper urged continued vigilance: Stay safe and at home whenever possible. Avoid social gatherings. Maintain at least 6 feet of separation from others, and wear a mask or cloth face covering in public.

Cooper noted that the WWHD is seeking rapid result saliva test kits, for an easier, less invasive method of checking infection status. These tests can be repeated multiple times, and are safer for health care providers because of reduced risk of exposure. Turnaround time for results is much faster as well, sometimes just 24 hours.

While the Health District looks to transition to the new rapid result saliva test process, there are currently a number of sites where concerned citizens who fit the criteria for testing can be tested. For a complete list and contact information, click here.

Cooper also provided these CDC guidelines. A face mask should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

A man and his mask

First Selectman Jim Marpe added, “We appreciate your continued patience and persistence as we all work together to assess, manage and combat the coronavirus. In cooperation with surrounding communities and under the direction of state and local health officials, and state government directives, our town departments are working on an effective re-opening strategy that will not reverse or diminish the progress made so far.

“As we continue to work though this crisis, please be sure to look after your families and friends as well as yourself. Together we will get through this, and remember you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.”

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.

Unsung Heroes #138

This one’s a no-brainer.

If you are anyone who, over the past couple of weeks, has been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, you are an Unsung Hero.

Perhaps you:

  • Man and woman the Westport Health District — performing coronavirus tests, administering aid, answering questions, soothing nerves
  • Serve in emergency operations with the police, fire, EMS departments — or anyone else in government called on to plan, execute, render assistance or in any other way help the town
  • Work in a medical practice, helping some patients who may have been infected and many more with their usual ailments, knowing all the while you had more contact with, and less protection from, sick people than anyone else

  • Are teaching students online, while at the same time soothing nerves, offering non-school advice, and ensuring continuity of education despite having never done so before
  • Are a school custodian or maintenance worker elsewhere who put on a mask and gloves, and spent days deep cleaning every square inch you could find, and did it well, despite your very real fears and anxieties
  • Own a business, and decided (or had to) to shut down, for the good of the community, and despite all your fears, still worry more about your employees and customers
  • Work in a store or market overrun by panicked customers; despite your low pay and own fears you stocked shelves, worked registers, answered questions, and did it all with grace and courtesy
  • Ditto all those restaurant workers who are adapting to a rapidly changing environment, preparing and serving food while observing new rules and regulations, and doing it with enormous care and concern
  • Reach out through your religious institution or civic organizaiton– even though its doors are closed and meetings canceled — to someone in need

Temple Israel is one of the many religious institutions now conducting services, classes and programs virtually.

  • Are suddenly thrust into the role of teacher, in addition to the disruption of having to work your own job remotely, or worry about what was going on at the office because you had to be home
  • Calm a child’s nerves, bring food to an elderly neighbor, or help a stranger figure out what to do now that the library, Senior Center, YMCA, Town Hall — and every other gathering place — is closed
  • Or are doing anything else to help someone else during these unprecedented days.

Thank you for helping make this town a “community.”

We’ll need you — and everyone else — to keep doing it for a while.

No one knows what’s ahead. But with all these Heroes in our midst, we’ll get through all this.

There’s no other choice.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net to let us know!)

 

COVID-19 Roundup: Call 211 For Test Questions; Small Business Loans Available; Takeout Restaurants Listed; New Transfer Station Rules; Fitness, Merchant News And More

COVID-19 testing is now available at several locations around Connecticut, and can be accessed through its 2-1-1 hotline — with certain caveats (see below).

The Westport Weston Health District’s initial contact trace testing is completed. They have one final round to test for those who were part of the initial investigation. It is only open to those already contacted directly by the WWHD.

Residents who feel symptoma of COVID-19 should stay home, and call or email their primary care provider with questions. Residents can call the state 2-1-1 line if instructed by their primary care provider to arrange testing, or if they have questions about being tested. A series of questions will be asked by a 2-1-1 representative to determine if testing is appropriate.

WWHD director Mark Cooper says, “It is no longer about parties, schools, religious institutions, employment, etc. Residents should assume that COVID-19 is everywhere and that anyone could have it. It has been shown that some people can have the virus with no symptoms at all. The number of COVID-19 cases in Westport and the state are going up, and they will continue to increase.”

Locally, the WWHD has contacted all those it became aware of who had contact with a COVID-19 positive person involved in the initial outbreak, and who it had tested.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 are being advised to practice strict voluntary isolation. They are instructed not to go out, but to stay home. If they require something and must go out, they should do so during times there are fewer people out. Masks and gloves should be worn so as not to spread the virus.

Yesterday’s announcement about closing restaurants, bars, and theaters is a step towards implementing social distancing. Day care facilities continue to remain open. Day care facilities provide essential services, and the WWHD is working closely with them to reinforce the message that it is incumbent upon them to keep their staff and children safe. They have been requested to use thermometers and practice hygienic measures. If a staff member or child becomes infected by COVID-19, the WWHD will close that facility.  It is in the facilities’ and the parents’ best interest to keep sick children at home.


Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell just spoke with the director of the Connecticut Small Business Administration.

Mandell reports that loans of up to $2 million are now available. They can be used for most expenses: payroll, accounts payable, fixed costs. They do not cover business losses.

Interest is 3.25% (profit businesses) and 2.75% (non-profit businesses). Funds come directly from the US Treasury, not a bank.

All businesses with a physical presence in the state are available. Applicants must show a credit history and ability to pay back the loan.

Click here for an application, or call 800-659-2955, or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The Connecticut Small Business Development Center can assist in filling out and filing applications. Click here for more information.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has also updated its list of restaurants offering curbside and takeout delivery. Click here to see.


To facilitate social distancing at the transfer station, residents may no longer bring bulky waste items that require assistance.

While the transfer station remains open, personnel will refrain from coming into contact with individuals, or refuse brought there by residents. Thus, they will not assist residents with the removal or disposal of solid waste from vehicles.

Residents bringing smaller waste items to the transfer station must deposit their solid waste directly into the hopper, and discharge recycling directly in to the single stream bins. Plastic bags are not allowed in single stream recycling.

These protocols are in effect at least through March 31. During this time, all fees and collection of refuse tickets will be waived.

Bud Valiante is always helpful. But he can no longer help residents dispose of large items at the transfer station. (Photo/Cindy Mindell)


JoyRide is one of the many fitness centers closed by the coronavirus.

To fill the void, they offer free Instagram live classes all week at 10 a.m. Follow @joyridestudio, and click on in the morning.

Thanks to Forte.Fit, people can also take live 30-minute classes, or stream from a library of on-demand JoyRide cycling classes filmed over the past 2 years.

For those without a bike, there a number of JoyX boot camp classes, plus pilates, barre and yoga from other brands.

JoyRide offers Westporters a deeply discounted Forte.Fit membership (less than $8 a month). Use the code JOYRIDE89.

In addition, JoyRide has partnered with dietician Ilanit Blumenfeld to offer a 4-week nutrition and online fitness challenge. It starts March 23. Click here for info and sign-ups.


Annette Norton of Savvy + Grace asks customers and friends to follow her store on Facebook or Instagram.

She’ll post new merchandise daily. Her website will be ready to take orders on Friday. And she offers curbside delivery as well as shipping.


The other day, “06880” posted a story on 3 Westport teenagers who offer to run errands for older folks, and anyone else homebound by the virus.

A woman who took them up on their offer writes:

“I contacted them last night and got a text back from one that he would do my shopping. What a lifesaver! He kept in constant touch with me by text, went to 3 different stores (!) and spent about 3 hours.

“He delivered it all outside my door. I left him a check in an envelope with a generous tip, and proceeded to stock my house (after wiping stuff down with alcohol). We appreciate hearing about him, and what he did, very much.”

(From left): Ty Chung, Jonathan Lorenz, Luke Lorenz. — 3 very helpful guys.


Former 2nd selectman Avi Kaner continues to be interviewed by national media about the effects of COVID-19 on retail outlets. As co-owner of New York’s Morton Williams supermarket chain, he spoke today on Fox News about “senior hours” for shoppers, and contingency plans. Click below to see:


 

URGENT: As 20 Residents Test Positive, Marpe Declares Civil Preparedness Emergency; All Restaurant Closed Inside; Other Closures Announced Too

1st Selectman Jim Marpe has announced that under the powers granted by Connecticut General Statute 28-8a and Westport’s Emergency Preparedness Ordinance, Chapter 26, Article III, he has declared a Local Civil Preparedness Emergency.  

The statute and ordinance allow for this declaration in the event of a local emergency creating a risk of severe hazards to life, welfare or property of the town of Westport or its residents, and includes any public health crisis occurring in or adversely affecting the town. The 1st Selectman says:

As of 8 p.m. today (Monday, March 16) the following will remain in effect until further notice:

  • All restaurants, including bars, delicatessens and other locations where food and/or beverages are prepared for on-premises consumption, are prohibited from all in-restaurant and outside service. No customers are allowed inside a restaurant. Delivery of food and beverages and curb-side pick-up of food and beverages is permitted, subject to all existing laws. This prohibition does not apply to cafeterias where employers provide meals exclusively for employees and residents/patients.
  • All commercial gyms and fitness centers shall be closed.
  • All nail and hair salons and barber shops shall serve by appointment only.
  • There shall be no social or other gatherings of any sort at the Inn at Longshore.

The onset of the COVID-19 virus has introduced a public health crisis to Westport. Westport Weston Public Health Department director Mark Cooper says that of the 31 Westport residents recently tested for the presence of the COVID-19 virus, 20 tested positive.  This confirms that the virus has developed a significant presence in our community, and highlights the need to take a much more aggressive action to limit the spread of the virus through social contact.

First Selectman Jim Marpe (left) and Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper.

There have been repeated calls by the town and Health District for residents to socially isolate or distance themselves in order to “flatten the curve” of the virus spread. Nevertheless, many instances and opportunities to gather in groups and to further spread the virus remain.

Marpe adds, “I want to thank our residents, the public and private schools and all the local organizations, houses of worship, businesses and other groups that have worked to fulfill the previous request to not gather in groups. Unfortunately, based on the advice of Health director Mark Cooper and other public health experts, I concluded that the town must take additional steps under the LCPE to reduce any group gatherings and minimize social contact.

“We support and encourage local restaurant curb-side pick-up and direct delivery of food at this time. We recognize the financial and operational hardships that this introduces to the businesses and employees as well as the inconvenience to their customers. This decision has not been taken lightly, but is nevertheless demanded because of the risks of the current COVID-19 public health crisis. We encourage all residents to patronize any businesses that remain open under required conditions. Westport is committed to promoting the patronage of these businesses as much as possible.”

“Here are ways to follow the town news:

“We urge you to be vigilant, stay at home, and stay informed.”

Health District Strongly Discourages Even Small Gatherings

Here is the latest advisory from the Westport Weston Health District:

It has come to the attention of the WWHD that with school and other closings, people are planning social gatherings and other activities.

The intent of closing schools, business offices and other places people congregate is to prevent, or at least slow down, the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19.

School and other cancellations should not be viewed as a holiday and a time for partying and celebration. They are closed to facilitate voluntary social isolation, which is an important tool in lowering the chance of exposure to an infectious disease.

What we have learned so far about COVID-19 is that it is highly transmissible even in small groups. One does not have to “hug and kiss” to become infected. Just talking to someone who is infected, in close proximity — even someone without outward symptoms — can get one infected. It is already happening in our community.

Now that COVID-19 is in the community you should assume that it is just about everywhere, because it most likely is.

Social gatherings, large and small, are discouraged until the virus has run its course. Those who continue to congregate without appropriate personal protective  equipment and do not diligently practice the simple protective measures of washing hands, etc., are the ones who will be getting sick.

The COVID-19 virus is everywhwere.

Health District Tests 40 People; Waiting Now For More Kits

Yesterday, the Westport Weston Health District received 40 COVID-19 test kits.

Officials called 40 people who had been at a party last week — the first known direct exposure to the virus in town — or had symptoms tied closely to those who were there.

Those nasal swabs were sent to a Quest Diagnostics lab in California. Results are expected in 3 to 5 days.

WWHD director Mark Cooper says they’re waiting for the next shipment of kits. The WWHD requested many last week, but they seem to be shipped only 40 or so at a time.

When kits arrive, testing will be done on a priority basis. Anyone with symptoms wishing to be placed on the list for testing should call 203-227-9571, ext. 237. You’ll be asked to leave your name and phone number. A nurse will call back to assess your symptoms and exposure history.

Westporters lined up yesterday at the Westport Weston Health District, for the first testing kits. Nasal swabs were administered under the blue tent, at the far left. (Photo/Steve Mochel)

In other COVID-19 news, Westport’s first positive case was confirmed late last evening by the state Public Health Department lab. “This was expected and comes as no surprise,” the WWHD says.

Statewide, 105 people have been tested. Six were positive, 99 negative. For a county-wide breakdown and more information, click here.