Ridgefield COVID cases hit 84, deaths at 7; Don't drop gloves, Marconi says

As the long days of people locked down at home stretch on, with the COVID-19 crisis nearing its third week, Ridgefield is holding on, working and planning for the days when the coronavirus threat will recede and life will bloom again into precious normalcy.

First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Wednesday afternoon there are 84 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ridgefield, and a total of seven known deaths in town from the disease.

Marconi recited the numbers in his 4 p.m. streamcast Wednesday, April 1, and said those numbers were from the town’s noon update that day.

Health Director Ed Briggs wasn’t participating in the streamcast, to provide more recent figures, due to a family commitment.

Town Emergency Director Dick Aarons also wasn’t in the Wednesday afternoon livestream.

“Both are feeling fine and continue to work every day — and very hard by the way,” Marconi said.

Marconi was joined by fire Chief Jerry Myers and Police Chief Jeff Kreitz.

“If you feel you have symptoms, please call your primary care provider,” Marconi said.

The disease is signaled by symptoms — fever, cough, shortness of breath — appearing 2 to 14 days after exposure.

“If you test positive for COVID-19, please stay at home,” Marconi said. “Self quarantine — that means stay away from your family, as well.

“If one person in a household has it, others are likely to get infected,” said Fire Chief Jerry Myers. “We have to work pretty hard at self-isolating.

Disposable gloves

Marconi brought up a concern he had not previous discussed.

“Diposable gloves,” he said.

People have been coming out of a store wearing plastic gloves and then taking them off, perhaps not wanting to bring them into their cars, and sometimes just dropping them, he said.

“Don’t just thrown them in the parking lot on the ground,” Marconi said. “It’s not right that your gloves should be someone else’s (problem) that they have to take care of.”

Marconi also expressed some gratitude.

“I want to thank Ridgefielders, those who are self-isolating and social distancing.”

Wednesday morning

Marconi also spoke to The Press early Wednesday, April 1 — about 8 in the morning, when the number of COVID-19 cases was still officiailly listed at 80.

The figures on deaths and the number of confirmed cases — residents who’ve tested positive — come from the state, and often come near midday.

Also, the state numbers of cases reflect only people known to have tested positive — there are sure to be many more people out there who haven’t been tested. Some of them may be carrying the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, and not be showing symptoms.

The known cases of COVID-19 in Ridgefield aren’t limited to the assisted living facility on Route 7, Benchmark Senior Living at Ridgefield Crossings, where the first case — and the state’s — was reported in mid-March on the memory care unit.

Statewide, Governor Ned Lamont reported Wednesday that Connecticut was up 3,557 COVID-19 cases, and 85 deaths.

People should be aware that the coronavirus which cases COVID-19 is a townwide problem, Marconi said, and let caution guide their behavior.

“If you figure we’re at 80, and 16 are at the Crossings, you’ve got 64 that are spread out around town, ages anywhere from 2 to 101,” Marconi said.

Even if numbers plateau for a while, Marconi expects the situation will get worse — soon.

“It doesn’t negate the reality that the next two weeks are going to be rough weeks. Like the president said, like we’ve been saying for a while: middle of April is going to be a tough time,” Marconi said. “Hopefully not longer.”

Efforts to keep people in their homes continue, in Ridgefield and around the region and beyond — the state, the northeast, the nation. Marconi tracks these efforts daily from his town hall office on conference calls with state officials, the governor, the 43 town Region 5 homeland security district that Ridefiled belongs to.

“It’s a massive issue,” he said.

“And social distancing is the only tool in our tool box, as I said for several weeks now,” Marconi said. “Probably within a week we’re going to see everybody with a mask on, and it’ll probably be 2 weeks too late.”

Fire department

Fire Chief Jerry Myers told The Press Friday that the Ridgefield Fire Department had about a two months supply of protective equipment, if the rate of use remains stable — and he reiterated that in Wednesday’s streamcast.

“As it stands right now, if we had an interrupted chain supply, we have about two months supply, based on the kind of activity we see right now,” Myers said Friday.

“We have about a two months supply, but we have a good, not great, reliable supply chain that’s bringing in stuff slowly. We’re trying to build up to a six month reserve level.”

Wednesday, Chief Myers said: “If we had to go it on our own we could eek it out for a couple of months.

Selectmen’s meeting

The selectmen plan to meet Wednesday night, April 1, and the news from that meeting will be reported on the Press’s website.

The meetings are livestreamed on the town’s website, www.ridgefieldct.org, and people can also go there to view archived meetings.

Marconi also expecting to make the meeting available through Zoom technology.

Marconi expected much of the discussion would focus on the budget problems the town will face.

“With the budget, it's not going to be easy,” he said. “I think we’re all in agreement, at least the Board of Selectmen is, that we need to bring a zero increase in taxes. That’s for sure, It's just a matter of how we get there.

“We’ve got a couple of different scenarios: one where the Board of Finance uses a little bit of fund balance, like this past year; or do you play it conservative, not knowing what the future holds? Or do you keep your powder dry, so to speak, and reduce everyone to zero — that’s pretty heavy.”

Economics

“This, to me when I look at the economics of it, it seems to predict a much more difficult future than what the recession did, although it took awhile to come back from the recession,” Marconi said.

“The negative consequences of this could be long lasting and deep. Whenever a business shuts down, loses cash flow, lays people off, and you’re out three months, you don’t know how many are coming back. I’m sure there’ll be some. But I don’t know.”

The commercial tax base is based not only on the built real estate — stores, offices, buildings — but what the rents that come in from it are.

“People need to know the value of all our square footage is based on what you can rent it for,” Marconi said. “If there’s massive adjustments, if it falls, the Grand List falls, we have less money.”

The town and the state will need to work with business owners and landlords.

“So there are are massive adjustments we have got to look at. We have to do what we can do to help preserve these people, what we can do to keep them at the table. It’s got to be incentives, and we've got to work together,” Marconi said.

“We’re all in this together, not only the virus and trying to do your social distancing, but also the economics of it.”

Contact information

The town emergency management office has been putting out the following contact information:

Center for Disease Control: (CDC): www.cdc.gov

Connecticut’s Official State Site: www.ct.gov

Town of Ridgefield Official Site: www.ridgefieldct.org

Town of Ridgefield Office of Emergency Management Social Media: Facebook: ridgefield oem

Danbury Hospital COVID-19 Help Line: 888-667-9262