Tag Archives: Westport Weston Health District

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.

Health District: Advice On Small Gatherings, Doctors’ Calls, Testing And More

An alert — and concerned — “06880” reader emailed: “With kids home, parents have no idea whether or not they (or adults for that matter) should be getting together, going to other people’s homes, etc. Do you know the answer?”

I called Mark Cooper, director of health for the Westport Weston Health District. In between meetings and calls, he took time to reply.

Cooper said, “We need society to keep going. We can’t prohibit everything. 

“Use common sense. If you or your child is sick or has symptoms, you need serious self-isolation. But if someone is healthy, there should be no problem associating with a few others who are healthy.

“COVID-19 is in our community. It can be anywhere. The reality is, most people will be exposed to it. Eat healthy, get enough sleep — and if you feel bad, isolate yourself or your children.”

Cooper also asked me to tell “06880” readers: “If you have symptoms, don’t just visit your doctor. Call ahead first. Make sure they have equipment, like test kits and protective and equipment. The waiting room may be crowded. You need to call first, rather than just show up.”

Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper spoke at yesterday’s press conference, in front of Town Hall.

In addition, Cooper passed along this message. It’s also posted on the WWHD website.

Things change quickly. Just a few days ago the community was discussing containment. Today we need to discuss what to do now that it is here.

What began as a private celebratory party of about 40 family and friends became the focal point in the potential spread of COVID-19 in the community. As of now, it appears about 14 of the 40 attendees have developed flu-like symptoms. Such cases are to be considered COVID-19, even though there are still active cases of the seasonal flu. Confirmation testing results are needed to be 100% sure.

The private party was held on Thursday evening. The index case developed mild symptoms on Sunday evening, and the first report came to the Health District mid-morning on Wednesday.

This could happen to anyone and anywhere people congregate and interact. This virus will spread unless everyone diligently practices the simple and effective control measures of  washing your hands, covering your cough, keeping sick children home from daycare and school, not touching your face — and doing this every day and everywhere, until the virus runs its course.

The virus has already spread from the initial introduction point in Westport to 14 new points, who then again potentially passed it on to about 14 new points, each. It is beyond trying to track who has been exposed and monitoring them for 2 weeks, to see if they develop symptoms to make sure they don’t pass it on. It would be like trying to determine who knows who and who may have seen whom when. That is no longer an efficient use of resources. Contact tracing usually involves 2 or 3 people with a limited number of cases. This has grown exponentially.

Although the official recommendation is that all gatherings and/or public events where more than 100 participants are expected be delayed, it is now clear that much smaller private events can be a significant contributor to community spread.

Getting together is in our human nature and can still be done, but everyone needs to go above and beyond the normal effort to keep everyone safe, at least until this virus runs its course.

No one is better able to safeguard yourself, loved ones, and friends than you. And each and every one of us. Otherwise, the only other option for anyone who wants to reduce the risk of community exposure, is to just stay home.

Chronic and convalescent nursing homes and rest homes with nursing supervision have been directed to impose restrictions on all visitors except when a current health state (e.g., end-of-life care) is in question.

Daycare centers should also immediately begin to restrict visitors, and strictly enforce employee and child sick policies — with no exceptions. Child daycare services are an essential service for people who have young children and need to go to work, so each daycare needs to carefully consider whether they need to close preemptively. An outbreak of the virus in such a setting will likely result in mandatory closure.

The Westport Weston Health District continues to work to obtain test kits and begin testing those who have COVID-19 symptoms. If you have symptoms and would like to be placed on a list to be screened for testing, call 203-227-9571, ext. 237. Leave you name and telephone number. A nurse will return your call as soon as possible.

Testing needs to be prioritized. The results will not influence recommendations for you to follow, so please be patient. We will get to everyone as efficiently as possible.

If someone has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is a confirmed case, the recommendation is to stay home, wear protective face covering if contact with other people is at all probable, and get plenty of rest to help the recovery process. If you feel the need to go to the hospital, please contact your healthcare provider or 911.

Patients who are ill, but not critically so, should stay home. If they are at high risk for having contracted coronavirus, they should reach out to their physicians by phone or email. They can then contact the state Department of Public Health, and get advice as to whether they should be tested or just isolate themselves at home.

Anyone experiencing severe symptoms or other respiratory distress should seek medical help. Do not go to your primary health care provider. Call first, or go to the hospital.

Self-isolation is indicated for any person who has had direct contact with any person known to have COVID-19 and/or experiences any flu-like symptoms, including fever, shortness of breath, or other respiratory symptoms.

This is a very fluid and fast-moving situation. The Health District will continue to work with the town, state Health Department and CDC to reduce the impact to the community.

The Westport Weston Health District continues to have a limited supply of the seasonal flu vaccine for anyone wanting to be vaccinated. Call the Health District office at 203-227-9571, to schedule an appointment.

For COVID-19 questions, the state has partnered with United Way for a hotline. Call 211, or text “CTCOVID” to 898211.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Town Officials Offer Latest Information On Schools, Services, Safety And More

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.

Marpe: We’re Working Hard On Covid-19. Please Wash Your Hands!

1st Selectman Jim Marpe introduced this afternoon’s COVID-19 virus forum, at the Westport Library. He said:

It is important to hold this public information session in order to share the latest information that town and Health District officials have about COVID-19, and how residents can prepare and protect themselves in the event of a local outbreak.

Since Friday, Governor Lamont has announced 2 known cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut and Fairfield County. Both are physicians – one is employed by the Danbury and Norwalk hospitals and the other by Bridgeport Hospital. Both of them live in Westchester County. So, the reality of this virus is coming closer.

I want to emphasize that the town’s and Westport Public Schools’ decisions will be guided by the information and recommendations of the Westport Weston Health District under the leadership of director Mark Cooper. who conduct this forum.

The Health District is in constant contact with the State’s department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. These are the reliable sources of quality information that will guide our decision processes. Director Cooper and I, along with our Emergency Management team, have worked together on past disease control challenges such as Ebola and the Zika virus, so I’m confident that Town and the Public Schools will make decisions based on medical science and sound disease control experience.

I can also assure you that for several weeks, our town administrators, Human Services and public safety officials have been planning and preparing for a town-wide response to this virus related to Westport’s facilities and community activities. There are dozens of “what if’s” to be considered regarding how we deliver essential town services while protecting our residents and employees for a health crisis of unknown magnitude and duration.

Some services can be performed remotely or via the internet, but many of our activities require face-to-face or public actions, from a stepped-up protocol for cleaning and sanitizing town buildings and facilities to prevent the spread of the virus; to serving the various needs of our residents, especially our seniors who are said to be the most vulnerable to this virus; to considering how we conduct the public meetings that are required by statute and charter to legally perform essential public activities in a time of possible quarantine.

I have met with all of the senior staff in Town Hall, the Police and Fire chiefs as well as the key staff from the Westport Public Schools and the library. We continue the internal exercise of planning and strategizing in case there is a need  to limit access to public meeting spaces.

We have considered what functions are essential and how those could be preformed remotely with limited public interactions. Under the leadership of our emergency management director, Fire Chief Rob Yost, we are adapting existing and well tested emergency management protocols. This prospective situation has the potential to be broader and longer than emergency situations of the recent past, such as winter storms and fires.

Our Police, Emergency Medical Service and Fire Departments are equipped with the right gear, apparatuses and devices to respond to emergencies regardless of the status of COVID-19, but like every community we may be vulnerable to limited supplies of those items over an extended period of time. I speak with the superintendent of schools at least daily to be sure we are coordinating our responses to this threat.

Perhaps the most important message I can deliver today is also the most obvious. Please stay aware and informed since each day, and almost each hour, the situation is rapidly evolving. As importantly, as individuals and as a community, we must stay calm and not succumb to fear and panic.  You know the drill:

  • Cover your mouth and nose if you cough and sneeze
  • Wash your hands – I mean really wash your hands – frequently
  • Greet others with an elbow bump or a foot tap

Our advice is to stay connected to the CDC and state Department of Health updates. The town has created its own link on our town website. Go to westportct.gov and search on COVID-19. That is where you will find any changes that we may need to make to the Town’s procedures and policies.

Also, follow the town as well as our Fire and Police Departments on Facebook and Instagram for updates. And very importantly, if you have not already, please sign up for emergency notifications from the Town of Westport Police and Fire Departments by texting “06880” to the number 888777.

As I have noted already, we are receiving excellent support, research and advice on COVID-19 from the Westport Weston Health District.  The remainder of the formal presentation today will be under the leadership Health District director Mark Cooper, who has been a great resource for the community for many years.

Marpe also provided this information for “06880” readers:

In an effort to increase our standard cleaning procedures for all of our Town buildings, the Public Works Department is taking extra steps to enhance cleaning and prevent the potential spread of disease.

  • Handwashing signs have been posted in all bathrooms, hallway and stairwells.
  • Wipe-down of all high touchpoint surfaces has been increased to 5 times per week, especially in areas such as railings, doorknobs, and bathroom fixtures.
  • The daytime custodial shift will check and replenish all bathrooms with soap and paper twice daily, as well as wipe and clean high traffic touchpoint areas with disinfectant wipes.
  • The evening custodial shift will replenish supplies in all bathrooms as well wiping down all high traffic touchpoint areas with disinfectant. This will include all stair railings, doorknobs and bathroom fixtures.
  • A bottle of hand sanitizer and tissues will be provided to each conference room.

To assist us in our efforts, it is strongly recommended that all employees also help out by

  • Cleaning personal desktops at least 3 times per week. (Clear clutter for thorough cleaning).
  • Wiping down high-touch office equipment (desktop phone, computer)
  • Wiping down common equipment such as copiers, fax machines, etc. 2-3 times per day
  • Wiping down public greeting desks at least 2-3 times per day.
  • Using common sense in all contact with others; avoid if unnecessary.
  • Keeping a supply of tissues available for public and staff use.

Thank you and stay safe!

Town’s COVID-19 Forum: Many Questions. Lots Of Answers. Much Unknown.

A small, well-spaced-apart crowd was joined by many more online participants this afternoon. They gathered, in real space and cyberspace, to hear from experts about the looming threat from COVID-19.

The Westport Library event — called “a forum in the Forum” by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe — provided plenty of detailed information. Presentations were clear and cogent; questions were wide-ranging and thoughtful; answers were direct and honest.

It was a powerful display of active, coordinated town leadership on many levels, and a reminder that good government has a powerful place in society.

1st Selectman Jim Marpe (far right), and today’s COVID-19 panel at the Westport Library.

The key takeaways, from Marpe, Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper, fire chief and director of emergency management Robert Yost, Westport Public Schools health services supervisor Suzanne Levasseur and others:

It is virtually inevitable that COVID-19 will come to Westport. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Our population is too mobile, and the virus is too relentless. In fact, it may already be here.

Town officials — including the 1st Selectman, Health District and public schools — are in constant contact with the state and CDC. Conversations are frequent, ongoing and productive.

There are dozens of “what-ifs.” No one knows how many people will be affected or how. Planning is taking place to cover many scenarios.

The best precautions include rigorous hand-washing, frequent cleaning of surfaces, and careful monitoring of surroundings and contacts. Plus, self-monitoring. And save face masks for health care providers and people who are already sick.

State Representative Jonathan Steinberg (left), who co-chairs the Legislature’s Public Health Committee, and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe demonstrate the best way to say hello, COVID-19-style.

If you feel ill but have not traveled to somewhere affected, are not in a high-risk category, or had contact with someone who is ill, contact your health care provider.

If, however, you have traveled to a high-risk area, or are in a high-risk category (elderly or immuno-compromised), contact the WWHD (www.wwhd.org; 203-227-9571).

The Westport Schools are being very proactive. This includes enhanced cleaning; education about the disease and proper hygiene procedures. and monitoring of student health. Nurses are on heightened awareness; there are signs, videos and plenty of soap and sanitizers in every school. Discussions are “ongoing” about things like field trips.

Here are some of the key questions from audience members and online participants — and the answers:

Should people over 60 be particularly worried? Those in this higher-risk group should follow CDC guidelines to limit exposure — particularly people with underlying health issues.

Where is testing being done? Right now, only in hospitals.

The in-person audience was small. But many more residents viewed the forum on the Westport Library’s streaming feed and Facebook page.

How is the Senior Center handling this? Director Sue Pfister said that, thanks to the day and night custodians, “it’s never been cleaner.” There are wipes and signs throughout the building, with an information table out front. “We are operating as normally as possible,” she said. “We are monitoring and educating, without panicking.” Clients are self-monitoring too, and not coming in if they don’t feel well. The staff is making contingency plans for meals for people who depend on the Center, in the event of closure.

Can we trust the CDC? Cooper said the organization is filled with excellent scientists, who are coordinating with colleagues around the world.

Who decides if schools will close? The superintendent — though Governor Lamont could make an emergency declaration. The cause could be infected students or staff, or as a preventive measure to avoid further spread. Daycare centers are also making contingency plans. Marpe noted that because many teachers — and other town employees — live elsewhere, decisions on closing are “complex.” For that reason, they may be made on a regional or statewide basis, rather than town by town.

What about budget implications? Marpe said he and the town’s legal staff are examining the implications of not being able to meet publicly for discussions  — though public meetings are mandated for things like budget decisions.

What about Metro-North? They have enhanced their cleaning procedures — and have seen a drop in ridership. The most at-risk riders should think about using alternative travel methods.

What about restaurants? Owners should check the CDC for checklists. Clorox solutions are the best way to clean. The WWHD will send owners detailed information, if the risk increases.

What about gyms, fitness centers and the Y? They are no more (or less) at risk than other gathering places. Most places seem to be wiping their equipment well; users can do the same.  “Social distancing” is important, as is good hygiene. There is no evidence that the virus is spread by sweat; it is spread through coughing, sneezing, and on surfaces.

What about Westport business with many employees who live elsewhere? Some are encouraging them to work from home. Bridgewater, for example, has taken the virus “extremely seriously.” They are in contact with the WWHD, and have limited travel by their employees.

Do Westport’s first responders have enough equipment? Yost says we have been very proactive. And if the situation goes on for a very long period of time? “Probably.”

Westport’s Emergency Medical Services staff were out in force at today’s COVID-19 forum.

Anything else we should know? Our emergency responders and the Health District are watching everything carefully — and everything else too. “We could have severe weather tomorrow that takes out power to everyone,” one panelist said. “We’re preparing for that too.”

In conclusion: Every action has a reaction. We don’t know what the reaction to all this will be, but town officials are planning assiduously and relentlessly. As for the tipping point of this pandemic: “We don’t know when it will come. But we do know it won’t disappear. We’ll keep watching, offering information, and making recommendations.”

The best sources of information:

Westport Schools’ Coronavirus Update

Earlier today, interim superintendent of schools David Abbey and supervisor of health services Suzanne Levasseur sent this email to all families with children in the Westport Public Schools:

In a continuing effort to update families with respect to Coronavirus (COVID-19), this letter is intended to address several questions and concerns that have been raised since our last correspondence on February 27.

Toward the objective of mitigating the spread of infection in our schools, we have been carefully monitoring new developments through close collaboration with the state Department of Public Health and the Westport Weston Health District.

In that we are in the midst of a rapidly moving set of circumstances, our approaches to preventing the spread of COVID-19 are subject to change. We will do our best to communicate any changes to our school programs or mitigation procedures in a timely fashion.

Handwashing

As of Monday, March 11, immediately after recess, and prior to eating lunch in the cafeteria, all students in grades K-5 will wash their hands with soap and water. Logistically, this will be accomplished by teachers and paraprofessionals bringing students to restrooms situated throughout the building. At the elementary schools, school nurses have done handwashing instruction and disease prevention strategies through morning announcements or through individual classroom sessions.

At Stepping Stones, our preschool students, assisted by teachers and paraprofessionals, will wash their hands with soap and water after morning unpacking, before snack and lunch, after coming in from the playground, and after using the bathroom.

At the middle school, staff encourage students to wash their hands with soap and water, and students are reminded to do so through digital messaging throughout the building.

At the high school, students have been reminded of everyday preventive practices, including hand washing, during Connections, their advisory period.

At all district schools, signage is present in restrooms and other locations, as a reminder about the importance of hand washing.

Cleaning Agents

Cleaning agents used in our schools are consistent with state requirements and meet the “green” standards established by our district “Tools-for-Schools” program. The custodial staff uses PC-103, which is effective against COVID-19 as are the hand wipes utilized by custodial staff. Yesterday, we received authorization from the state Department of Administrative Services to use chlorine bleach disinfectants. We will be procuring chlorine based products as another level of protection to aid in the control or spread of the virus.

Throughout the district, surface areas in classrooms, such as desks, are cleaned nightly with disposable wipes.

We have placed alcohol-based (70%) hand sanitizers in all of our classrooms for student and teacher use. If they have the inclination to do so, parents should feel free to provide their children with a bottle of hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes for their children to use in school.

Attached is a memorandum regarding district cleaning protocols in our schools, placed on our district website on March 3rd.

Bus Transportation

Dattco, our bus transportation carrier, is responding to COVID-19 through increasing its bus cleaning efforts. For example, they have informed us that school bus interior “high traffic” surfaces will be wiped down on a regular basis with disinfectant sprays and disposable towels. On the personnel side, drivers who exhibit or report illness symptoms will be encouraged not to report to work until they are asymptomatic.

School Closings

As the State Department of Education has directed: “Absent an emergency declaration from the Office of the Governor or Federal Government, school closures are local decisions made by the school district in coordination with and at the direction of the local health officials.”

In the Westport Public Schools, we monitor student health on a district-wide basis by tracking student absentee rates as well as monitoring students with influenza-like illness. Students with influenza-like symptoms are sent to our school nurses, evaluated, and if warranted, parents are called to take their children home.

Our protocols and approach to COVID-19 are being implemented and updated through close consultation with the Westport Weston Health District. It is impossible to plan for every possibility, as each situation is unique; however, if a student or staff member at a particular school is determined to have COVID-19, it is highly likely that the impacted school would be closed for 14 days.

Siblings of students with COVID-19 who attend other schools in our district would be requested and expected to remain at home for 14 days. Likewise, staff members with family members or close contacts that are determined to have COVID-19, will be requested and expected to remain at home for 14 days.

Given that each situation is different, our response to specific situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Decisions will be made in consultation with the Westport Weston Health District, the Center for Disease Control, and the Connecticut State Department of Public Health.

Continuity of Teaching and Learning

Under the leadership of Dr. Anthony Buono, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, and in conjunction with Principals, Curriculum Coordinators and Teachers, we are developing a number of strategies that, in the event of a school or district closing, will allow for a degree of home-based instructional continuity. Because we are asking our educators to plan for the possibility of school closings at the same time they are providing day-to-day instruction, we will have to redeploy some staff members, during the course of the day, in order to provide them with time to plan.

We will continue to share pertinent information with respect to this rapidly evolving challenge. In the interim, we encourage all families and staff members to take part in every-day preventative practices toward the objective of helping us maintain a healthy school environment.

Below are helpful links for families, which includes information tips for talking with children about an infectious disease outbreak:

https://www.cdc.gov/

https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Public-Health-Preparedness/Main-Page/2019-Novel-Coronavirus

Talking With Children Tips for Caregivers, Parents, and Teachers During Infectious Disease Outbreaks

[UPDATE] Townwide Coronavirus Forum Set For Sunday

Earlier today, Costco looked like the day before a snowstorm. People stocked up on pasta, bottled water, and anything else to get them through a siege.

As the coronavirus — or its fear — continues to spread, town officials have organized a public forum. All Westporters are invited.

Set for this Sunday (March 8, 12 p.m., Westport Library), it’s organized by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Westpoort Weston Health District director Mark Cooper, and library executive director Bill Harmer.

Besides Marpe and Cooper, speakers include Fire Chief Robert Yost (Westport’s director of emergency management); Suzanne Levasseur (Westport Public Schools health supervisor), and representatives from the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection and George Washington University.

Marpe says, “It is important to hold this public information session in order to share the latest information that town and Health District officials have about COVD-19, and how residents can prepare and protect themselves in the event of a local outbreak.”

The forum will also include information on a potential townwide response, involving facilities and community activities.

PS: If you can’t get there — or don’t want to gather in public — the event will be livestreamed. Click here to view.

September 21 Will Be A Hazardous Day

If you’re a typical Westporter, you’ve got stuff lying around your house.

You know: basic hazardous waste.

If you’d like to get rid of it 🙂 but have no idea how or where: Read on.

On Saturday, September 21, 2019, the Public Works Department holds its annual Household Hazardous Waste Day. The time is 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the site is the Westport/Weston Health District, 180 Bayberry Lane.

Better yet: It’s free.

As a regional program, it’s also open to residents of Weston, Wilton, Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich.

Many items used around the house are considered household hazardous wastes, because they may contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients. For example, check your:

Garage:  Gasoline, kerosene, mineral spirits, spray paint, paint strippers, paint thinners, solvents, stains, turpentine, varnishes, wood preservatives, degreasers, etc.  NOTE: All paints, stains, motor oil, antifreeze, batteries and light bulbs must be recycled at the transfer station (see below).

Garden shed:  Fertilizers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, etc.

General household:  Bleach, charcoal lighter, cleaning chemicals, drain cleaners, flammable liquids, mercury thermometers, moth balls, pet flea shampoos, rug shampoos, spot removers, art supplies and paints, etc.

Before bringing hazardous household items to the collection site:

  • Make sure items are clearly labeled. NEVER MIX CHEMICALS.  Incompatible products may react, ignite or explode, and mixed waste may become not be recyclable.
  • Keep products in original labeled container.
  • Place leaky containers in clear plastic bags.
  • Tighten lids of all containers, and pack items in sturdy cardboard boxes lined with newspaper.
  • Put boxes in the trunk or in the back of the vehicle away from passengers.
  • Leave pets and children home when bringing hazardous materials for collection.
  • Keep your windows open and drive directly to the collection site.
  • Do not smoke or eat while handling hazardous materials.

REMEMBER: Paint cannot be accepted. Westport residents should bring latex and oil-based paints, primer, stain, sealer, varnish and shellac to the Westport transfer station (Sherwood Island Connector, weekdays, 7  a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 am to 12 noon).

The following items are also not acceptable at Household Hazardous Waste Day:  ammunition, flares, and commercial hazardous waste 🙁

Questions? Call the Public Works Department: 203-341-1793.

Another Sewer Leak. Another Beach Closure.

This morning, Westport Fire Department personnel were notified that sewage was coming up from a manhole in front of Saugatuck Elementary School.

Public Works was called, and a representative responded. The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Parks & Recreation Department, Conservation Department, Marine Police and businesses abutting the Saugatuck River were notified too.

The Sewer Department is working to mitigate the problem. This sewer is separate from — and the discharge “significantly smaller than” — last week’s sewer leakage event downriver, the Fire Department says.

In an abundance of caution, the Westport Weston Health District closed all beaches for swimming until further testing can be done. They advised suspending river activities too.

The good news: It’s not a Saturday.

The other good news: Based on traffic around town, it’s that mid-August time of year when nearly everyone is away. Roads, stores and restaurants are empty. Enjoy!

Sewage coming out of a manhole cover. This is NOT the Riverside avenue scene, but it is the first thing that popped up on a Google Images search.

Beaches Open: Everyone Into The Water!

Earlier this afternoon, the Westport Weston Health District gave the all-clear.

Westport beaches are now safe for swimming. They were closed on Saturday afternoon, following a sewage spill.

Compo Beach was almost empty today. Tomorrow, the crowds will return.

Weather permitting, of course.

Jump for joy! The water’s fine! (Photo/Richard Wiese)

(Hat tip: Amy Schneider)