COVID-19 fight requires continued effort by all, including the young, Ridgefield selectman says
“Remain vigilant” is First Selectman Rudy Marconi’s message fellow Ridgefielders.
The town appears to have been doing fairly well in its struggle against the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes — Ridgefield is down to “a handful” of additional people testing positive each week, according to town officials. But they are concerned about what they see as a disturbing trend of more younger people among those testing positive, in Ridgefield and surrounding towns.
The situation was outlined in a release from the town Office of Emergency Management on Thursday evening, July 16.
“We are seeing a trend of younger people beginning to get the virus and we are attributing that partially to their relaxed behavior,” First Selectman Marconi said. “When we first saw a rise in town numbers back in April and May, everyone worked together to take precautions by wearing masks, sanitizing their surroundings and limiting the size of any groups they were in. It worked and in the past couple of weeks, we have only had a handful of cases. But what worries me is that those cases could spike if we don’t continue our efforts.”
According to Health Director Ed Briggs, surrounding towns are beginning to experience a rise in numbers, especially in the lower age groups.
“There is a good reason why the governor has ordered travel restrictions and asked people not to congregate,” Briggs said.
• By July 16, the 3276 people in Ridgefield have been tested and 219 have been positive. Ridgefield has lost 43 people, 40 from assisted care/nursing facilities and the remaining from the community. As of two weeks ago, there were 12 active cases and one recent death from a care facility. Ages of the active cases range from less than 1 years old to over 80 with most falling in the 19-50 year old range. Ridgefielders are experiencing a low, flat CV-19 infection and hospitalization rate, according to Health Director Ed Briggs. For daily numbers, the best source is the State website, www.ct.gov.
• State officials continue to visit and monitor nursing homes and assisted living centers where most deaths and serious infections occurred. The Ridgefield Health Department is in regular contact with the management of those facilities as well.
• The State Department of Public Health (DPH) has introduced a new CV-19 tracking system and has hired “trackers” to follow up with persons who test positive to see that their recent personal contacts are notified. Director Briggs and First Selectman Rudy Marconi urge Ridgefielders to cooperate with the trackers, but to “be watchful for scammers.” Trackers will never ask for banking, credit card or password information nor will they tell you which of your recent contacts has tested positive.
• Another source for statistical data on CV-19 infections and deaths for the state, county and municipalities can be found at https://data.ct.gov/stories/s/COVID-19-data/wa3g-tfvc/. “Local positive tests are so low — only a handful weekly — that the only thing we can glean from them is that Ridgefielders are doing a good job with social distancing, hygiene and wearing masks," said Health Director Briggs. Health Department personnel are observing operations at local licensed facilities where a health permit is necessary — restaurants, barber/beauty shops, grocery stores. “Most restauranteurs and other licensed facilities are really trying to do a good job protecting employees and customers,” Briggs said. “These folks know their economic survival depends on their customers seeing the facilities following CDC and state guidance.”
• Emergency Manager Dick Aarons reports that the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is working daily with the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) to assure communication between the state and regional Recovery Steering Committees and several town agencies working on long-term recovery. OEM has been distributing personal protective equipment to first responders and critical work force. “We have also been working with the Red Cross and DEMHS to redesign our shelter protocols to deal with sheltering during the pandemic,” Aarons said.
• School re-opening guidelines are expected in early August after all municipalities have weighed in on their recommendations. Governor Lamont also said there is an expectation that there will be a spike in COVID cases during flu season and the state is planning for that.
• Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers have provided over 5,000 person-hours of support to the OEM since March 12. Most of this volunteer effort has gone to providing communications links between residents and town agencies using traditional media, social media —the Town Website at www.ridgefieldct.org, CTAlert, and the Ridgefield OEM Facebook and Twitter sites. Other CERT members have been transporting and distributing state-provided Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to town agencies and businesses. CERT has also supported Ridgefield Responds.
“I am tremendously proud of these volunteers, many of whom worked seven-days a week during the CV-19 peak,” said Director Aarons.