Ridgefield declares state of emergency amid COVID rise: ‘These are dangerous times’

RIDGEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday to declare a local state of emergency due to “severe COVID conditions.”

The motion was presented by First Selectman Rudy Marconi as an addendum to the agenda and passed 3-0. Selectman Bob Hebert and Selectwoman Barbara Manners were absent during the vote.

Ridgefield purchased approximately 17,000 rapid test kits from Florida with approval from the Board of Selectmen, Marconi said. While the Board of Finance will ultimately determine how to expense the $340,000 purchase, it’s likely to come from the town’s American Rescue Plan funds, Marconi said.

“It’s a clear and allowable use for COVID mitigation,” he explained. “These are dangerous times we’re living in. We need to get this virus under control.”

In a letter to Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Marconi proclaimed “a local civil preparedness emergency in Ridgefield … due to the severe COVID conditions and the need to activate [Community Emergency Response Team] volunteers.”

The declaration provides liability coverage to CERT members, who will distribute kits to community members in the coming weeks. The Office of Emergency Management has organized several outlets for distribution, including the local clergy association and other locations, Marconi said.

Marconi also noted the possibility of a mass distribution event at the high school, but no solid plans are in place.

“We’re not doing this for people to hoard (tests),” he stressed. “We want ... everyone who has symptoms or a known exposure to be a priority.”

On Tuesday, Ridgefield’s COVID test positivity rate was 20 percent.

Despite high vaccination levels, the town’s current case rate is much higher than last year because of the dominance of the omicron variant, according to an analysis from data scientist Rick Lawrence, who sits on the town’s COVID-19 task force.

Ridgefield is providing rapid testing at Yanity Gym on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment only. For more information visit www.ridgefieldct.org.