With a passionate plea for everyone — including young people — to take the health crisis seriously, First Selectman Rudy Marconi warned things will get worse.

Ridgefield had counted of 46 total cases of COVID-19 in Ridgefield on Thrusday morning.

“We are planning to gear up for a much more intense caseload of this terrible virus and we don’t want any more people to get sick than have already been stricken,” Marconi said. “So please, please, I beg you: maintain the social distancing and stay home.”

Three Ridgefielders have died from COVID-19 as of Wednesday morning. All were in their 80s, town officials said.

Connecticut’s death toll had risen to 21, Governor Ned Lamont said Thursday. There are 125 people hospitalized with COVID-19, he said shortly before 5 Thursday, March 26, as well as 1,012 confirmed cases, up from Wednesday’s 875.

Lamont asked people to stay in groups of no more than five, a sharp reduction from an earlier executive order limiting gatherings to 10.

Marconi call

Marconi pleaded for social distancing in a phone call to homes around town shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, when the case load in town was 10 less than Thursday’s count.

“Earlier today, Health Director Ed Briggs announced we have 34 COVID-19 active cases in Ridgefield,” Marconi began.

“Seventeen of those cases are spread throughout our community, and the balance are 17 cases that are located at one facility on Route 7,” Marconi said.

He said town officials cannot make details of who has tested positive public due to the federal health privacy law known as HIPAA.

Marconi urged Ridgefielders to diligently practice social distancing as recommended by health authorities such as the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“Maintain a six-foot separation from anyone you’re speaking to outside of your family, outside of your home,” Marconi said.

“Please use common sense. If you take a hike, or walk on Main Street, please practice social distancing. It’s critical.”

The young

Marconi sounded emotional in a plea to young people who have not all been taking the crisis seriously.

“Today, we had an abundance of younger adults that were using basketball courts, tennis courts, fields, playing games,” Marconi said.

“Unfortunately, in these times we just cannot tolerate that.

“As parents, as friends, do not allow this to take place. This is a highly contagious virus that we need to get under control. Unfortunately, the only tool we have to defend ourselves is the social distancing,” Marconi said.

Town officials warned that although older people and those with other medical problems are most vulnerable, the coronavirus is a threat to younger people as well.

On Monday, when the number of active cases in town was 15 — less than half what it is now —Briggs said that two of them were people in their 20s.

“We have two people in their 20s!” Marconi said. “I wouldn’t assume because you’re under 21 you’re immune. I’m hearing reports of young people around the country who are getting sick.”

Marconi said the groups at high risk to this disease — which attacks the lungs — aren’t just the aged, and those with heart disease or diabetes.

“Those with ‘underlying conditions’ — smokers are vulnerable and need to be extremely careful,” Marconi said.

Nonessential businesses, travel

Gov. Ned Lamont, who had declared a statewide state of emergency, issued an executive order requiring all “nonessential” businesses to close as of 8 p.m. Monday night.

“For a complete list of all essential businesses, go to ridgefieldct.org,” Marconi said.

And everyone — regardless of age — should avoid nonessential travel, he said.

“Before you leave your house, stop and think about where you’re going and what you’re doing. Is it truly essential?” Marconi said. “This is a highly highly contagious virus.

“The only way we’re going to stop the spread of the virus is social distancing.”

The virus can be picked up so easily — people should simply stay home.

“Just going out, touching a surface, standing next to someone,” Marconi said. “You don’t know who the person is that may be passing it on to you.”

“If you’re at a cash register at a supermarket, try to keep your distance to protect yourself personally, and so you’re not breathing on top of each other,” said Health Director Briggs. “So people around you don’t infect each other.”

Afternoon talks

Marconi had been giving late afternoon “updates” on the situation daily for more than a week, often accompanied by Health Director Briggs, Emergency Management Director Dick Aarons, Police Chief Jeff Kreitz and Fire Chief Jerry Myers.

But this week the Ridgefield’s Emergency Management Operations Team announced it is planning COVID-19 updates Monday and Wednesday and Friday. They will be livestreamed as usual at 4 p.m. on the town website ridgefieldct.org and cable TV channel 24 (Comcast). The website also has archives of all previous COVID-19 updates as well.

“If you are not receiving emergency calls from Selectman Marconi, please go to CTAlert.gov to register your information. If you don’t have email, you can provide this generic email: noemail@ridgefield.com in the required field,” said Gerri Lewis, who is serving as town public information officer during the emergency.

The town’s emergency operations management team offered suggestions for getting reliable information:

Centers 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: ridgefieldoem

Ridgefield Public Schools: www.ridgefield.org

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure: fever, cough, shortness of breath. If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, consult your medical provider.

“Stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy,” Marconi said.