June 4, 2020

Archives for March 2020

First Case of COVID-19 Confirmed in Chester

Photo by CDC on Unsplash


CHESTER — In an email sent out this afternoon at 4:40 p.m., First Selectwoman Lauren Gister confirmed that “the State Department of Public Health has reported that there is a positive case of COVID-19 in Chester.” The person who has contracted the virus is, “a resident in her 40’s, who is recovering at home,” adding, “This case is expected to be travel related.”

Gister noted, “COVID -19 is a highly contagious virus, and as testing has been ramping up, positive cases in our area are to be expected. Connecticut River Area Health District (CRAHD) continues to monitor the situation and will ensure that all appropriate CDC guidance is followed. I anticipate that we will continue to get more cases as the infection spreads and testing becomes more available.”

Now there are no drugs against coronavirus, but to combat the symptoms, drugs are used for other diseases such as caletra, also generic aralen.

She further stated, “This first case is a reminder to us all to review the messages being delivered by the CDC, the CT DPH, and our local health department, CRAHD,” stressing, “If you do not need to be out in public, don’t be!” and, “The single best way to slow the spread of this virus is to practice social distancing. Assume that you are contagious, and that everyone around you is contagious as well.”

Gister gave the following guidelines for living with COVID-19:

·      Call or email your doctor if you think you may have COVID-19
·      Stay home if you do not have to go out.
·      Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
·      Avoid touching your face
·      Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and phones daily
·      Maintain social distancing of at least six feet

You are free to walk your dog, get groceries or prescriptions, take a hike, or work in your garden. Put 6 feet of space between you and anyone else you come in contact with, and do not visit with friends (except via telephone or video).

She concluded, “We will continue to provide updates on measures Chester is taking to address the COVID-19 pandemic. We are not panicked – we are prepared. Chester’s leaders and Emergency Management Team are here to support you. We will get through this together.”

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A View from My Porch: Keep Calm and Carry On

Original 1939 UK poster. From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository.

The title of this essay is derived from a poster designed by the British government in the late 1930s to maintain morale when war against Germany became imminent. This essay roughly considers “a day in the life” of Southeastern Connecticut residents as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts each of us and our collective ability to “carry on” our lives as usual. I will present the key elements of this crisis, drawing from the wealth of real data that have become available, and define some of the terms used by our public health professionals so that you can better understand the basis for the required actions.

The Statistics: 

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) reported on March 23 that there were 618 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state; with multiple cases in each of Connecticut’s eight counties. Fifty-four patients were hospitalized, and 12 residents have died. Over 60 percent of Connecticut cases are in Fairfield County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported over 50,000 cases and nearly 700 deaths across the United States. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports over 415,000 cases and nearly 19,000 deaths worldwide. Note that these numbers change, and probably increase, daily. 

Excuse me in advance, but this isn’t our first rodeo; and we’ve successfully dealt with pandemics in the past. These include the HIV/AIDS crisis that began in the mid to late 1970s, and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, our response to COVID-19 was late and disorganized with mixed and confusing messages coming from the highest levels of the federal government. As a result, testing for the disease started late, supplies of critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves for health care personnel became scarce, and were not replenished in a timely manner.  The same was true of essential hospital equipment like ventilators, which are the “breathing machines” used for treating patients in severe respiratory distress. 

And so, on March 10th, Connecticut Governor Lamont joined several governors in nearby states and declared both a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency. A public health emergency gives the state authority over quarantine, while a civil preparedness emergency grants the governor broad powers over state institutions, allowing him to restrict travel, close public schools, some businesses, and public buildings.

As a result, only “essential businesses”, which include: grocery stores, pharmacies, medical offices, hospitals, childcare, auto repair, banks, and emergency services remain open. Restaurants may remain open, but for takeout and delivery only. Schools were closed on March 31, and there is some thought that they may remain closed through the end of the semester. Hospitals have changed visitation rules.

I will not list the “non-essential” businesses. Tele-commuting is encouraged when at all possible. These restrictions and closures have resulted in significant displacement of workers and unemployment has grown.  

Important Terminology: 

COVID-19 is a disease triggered by a coronavirus, which is a relatively common virus that can cause both upper and lower respiratory tract infections. 

In the past, most coronaviruses weren’t dangerous and caused only mild respiratory problems. However, in early 2020, following a late 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type of coronavirus. Officials named this new virus “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus2 “(SARS-CoV-2)”. This highly contagious and virulent microorganism is the agent that causes COVID-19; which can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure, septic shock, and death.

Older adults and any individual with a serious underlying medical condition are at higher risk for COVID-19’s more serious complications. The CDC notes that people may be most contagious when they are at their sickest. However, note that many cases are still mild to moderate and not life-threatening. These can be treated at home.

You may have also heard this virus referred to as “novel”, which, very simply, refers to a virus that has not been seen before, or has never infected humans before. As such, it’s unlikely that anyone will have immunity, or antibodies that protect them against the novel virus. 

Public health professionals stress the need to “flatten the curve” as a means of controlling this disease. The curve refers to the rate of growth of new cases displayed graphically (i.e., the projected number of new cases over a specific period of time). A “flattened” curve staggers the number of these new cases over a longer period, so that people have better access to care, and do not overburden the healthcare system. 

Transmission:

The virus is spread primarily from person-to-person, commonly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, saliva, or from some hard surfaces on which the virus may live for four or five days and remain infectious for even longer.

Prevention:

The best way to prevent this disease is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC still recommends social distancing to reduce the probability of contact between individuals carrying the infection with others who are not infected. 

The goal is to minimize disease transmission, and its resultant morbidity, and ultimately, mortality. The minimum recommended measures include:

  • Allow six feet of interpersonal space, which means avoid crowded social activities, like going to pubs, bars, and restaurants, sporting events, theaters and cinemas.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently; use hand sanitizers.
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Use the “usual” coughing and sneezing protocols.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. 

Testing is a good thing:

It is correct that testing does increase the number of individuals identified with the disease, but it also provides the data required to target resources and plan for future needs. Testing is now widely available. All acute care hospitals have the ability to test, although for those that utilize the DPH lab in Rocky Hill, testing is reserved for patients that have been admitted to the hospital.

There are also a number of outpatient testing sites that use private labs, and do not need to comply with the admission restriction. All sites require a physician’s order, who, at present, must make an appointment for the patient.

Critical and Immediate Issues:

This crisis will not end soon. Only one source predicts an end by April 12, which is Easter Sunday in the United States. Most experts agree that an end date is difficult to predict, but 60 days is feasible.

There is currently no vaccine or “miracle” drug specifically targeting COVID-19 — no antiviral drugs are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat patients with COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and collaborators are working on development of candidate drugs for rapid testing and evaluating re-use of drugs approved for other diseases. Current treatments often focus on protecting against opportunistic infections and alleviating symptoms while the disease “runs its course.”

We do not yet know what the recurrence rate is for patients, who have recovered from COVID-19. 

Americans have never really faced the rationing of healthcare services. It is clear, however, that we must plan for a possible surge of critically ill patients and identify additional space in which to provide care. Unfortunately, it may be possible that our medical professionals will need to make decisions regarding assignment of scarce resources like ventilators. 

I am confident that the United States will allocate resources to support our citizens and small businesses that face economic hardships as we move through this crisis. 

Make certain that you know the source of the information about this disease. The most reliable data comes from Connecticut DPH, Ledge Light Health District, and the CDC. 

Finally, God save the United States if we ever reach the point when we have to value a life lost in this pandemic less than a life lost in an economic downturn (whatever that is.)

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Connecticut River Museum Still Closed, but Online Programs Offered

The entrance of the Connecticut River Museum

ESSEX — The Connecticut River Museum has been closed to the public, effective this morning.  It is expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, certainly to Easter Sunday (April 12) if not beyond.

The staff remain on the job, either at the Museum or from home, and plans for future events and programs continue to be made.
Visit the Museum’s website at CtRiverMuseum.org for the latest schedule updates and for more definitive information about its reopening.
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Estuary Regional Senior Center Closed, But Still Providing Critical Meals on Wheels Service

estuary councilOLD SAYBROOK/AREAWIDE — Following the State of Connecticut guidelines, the Estuary Council’s Senior Center building will be closed until March 31, but will continue providing Meals on Wheels uninterrupted. Staff will also be available, by phone only, to help answer questions. The Estuary Council’s phone message, website, and Facebook page will be updated as they continue to monitor this unprecedented situation.

Stan Mingione, Executive Director, says “We find ourselves in an unprecedented time in regards to the changing landscape of the COVID-19 virus. We respect the seriousness of the situation and have decided to close our Senior Center beginning March 17, until the end of the month. Our concern is for those in our organization, our staff, volunteers, clients and the communities in which they live. Our vital Meals on Wheels service will continue uninterrupted.”

He stresses, “Our phones will be open for anyone seeking information or a friendly voice. We appreciate your patience and we will keep you updated as to when we will be resuming operations. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. I will be available by phone or email during this time so do not hesitate to reach out. Keep yourselves healthy and continue to be positive. We will get through this.”

The following changes in services have been announced:

Meals on Wheels
Meals are still being delivered to homebound clients. Be patient as the usual time of your delivery may change.

Café Lunches
A take-out option is being tried for café lunches. All lunch reservations made for dates after March 16 have been cancelled. Call 860-388-1611 and dial 216 to listen to take-out options and make new reservations.

Medical Transportation
Medical transportation service has been suspended at this time. No new medical reservations will be taken until it has been determined when this service will resume.

Thrift Shop
The Estuary Thrift Shop is closed at this time and donations are NOT being accepted until further notice. Please do not leave items outside the building.

Programs/Activities
All Estuary programs, activities, and clubs – including the gym and AARP Tax services, are suspended at this time. No appointments are being taken until it has been determined when these services will resume.

Call 860-388-1611 and listen closely to the message for updates as these services may continue to change daily.

Check the Estuary website and Facebook Page @ Estuary Council of Seniors, Inc. for posted updates.

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It’s ‘First Friday’ in Chester Tonight!

Chester’s Main Street will be bustling this evening during ‘First Friday.’

CHESTER, Conn. – It’s the First Friday in Chester, that means all downtown shops and restaurants will be open until 8 p.m.

Enjoy a wine tasting at the Chester Bottle Shop from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Hive at Chester will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. where offices are filling fast.

Listen to the sweet sounds of Arrowhead and Friends at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery while enjoying the oldest and the newest paintings of Leif Nilsson’s home and travels.

Elsewhere around Chester, shops will be open until 8 p.m., with most offering complimentary snacks or beverages.

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

More information about First Friday is available on Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or by calling (860) 322-4047

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Sustainable Essex Continues 2020 ‘SEED’ Series Tomorrow with Talk on Environmental Impact of Food we Throw Away

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

ESSEX — The Sustainable Essex Committee continues its 2020 Sustainable Essex Environmental Discussion (SEED) Series on Saturday, March 7.

The SEED series, is comprised of individual sessions grouped by common themes (waste reduction, sustainable management of water resources, etc.).

The overriding goals of the Series are to:

  • Create awareness, 
  • Provide guidance with ways individuals can modify their household behaviors to address climate change, and 
  • Gather suggestions for action at a community level.

The first group of sessions fall under the overarching title of The Solid Waste Crises in Essex and Connecticut and will be held at Essex Public Library on the following dates: Feb. 29, March 7 and May 2.

Session 2 Saturday, March 7
1 p.m.
Essex Library
What is the Environmental Impact of the Food We Throw Away?
What positive changes can we as a community make?
Facilitator: Georgia Male – Farm Manager and Program Director, The Incarnation Center Nature Center and Gardens 

 

Learn what this means:

 

 

40% / 11.1% / 12.4% / 9.9%

 

  • How food waste emits excessive levels of CO-2 emissions from our landfills that significantly contribute to global warming
  • How you can reduce the amount of food waste in your household
  • How our community can reduce the amount of food waste

 

This session will last approximately one hour. Light refreshments will be served.

Session 3 – Saturday, May 2 
1 p.m.
Essex Library
Climate Change Impacts of plastic and micro-plastic waste

Facilitator: Professor Evan Ward, Research Professor & Head of the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut, Avery Pointe

Additional sessions will be posted on ValleyNewsNow.com, and both the Sustainable Essex website and Facebook page.

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‘Common Good Gardens’ Needs Volunteers, Details on ‘CT Outdoors’ with Suzanne Thompson this Weekend

‘CT Outdoors’ host Suzanne Thompson of Old Lyme stands with Linda Clough of Common Good Gardens at the WMRD/WLIS radio studio where Thompson interviewed Clough for this week’s program.

OLD SAYBROOK/OLD LYME — Do you have a few hours each week to help grow nutritious produce for Shoreline Kitchens and Pantries patrons?  Common Good Gardens welcomes potential volunteers to attend its annual Pot Lunch Brunch on Saturday, March 21, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, at Grace Episcopal Church in Old Saybrook, to learn more about the garden and how members produce and collect thousands of pounds of vegetables every year for families in need along the Shoreline.

On this week’s CT Outdoors radio show, Suzanne Thompson talks with CGG president Linda Clough about the non-profit organization and the garden behind Grace Episcopal Church that provides fresh produce for the SSKP patrons who come to the food pantries in Old Saybrook, Old Lyme and East Lyme.

CGG volunteers grow and harvest three to four tons of fresh produce each year at the Old Saybrook garden and pick up thousands of pounds of donated produce from farm stands. Organizers are looking for more volunteers in the coming growing season, everything from diggers, weed pullers and waterers to vehicle drivers, bookkeepers and publicists.  

The 30-minute show airs at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 7, and 7 a.m. on Sunday, March 8, on WLIS 1420 AM/Old Saybrook & WMRD 1150 AM/Middletown and streaming at www.wliswmrd.net

To play back this CT Outdoors show at any time from your PC, MAC or laptop, go to www.wliswmrd.net, click the On Demand icon, look for pop-up screen from radiosecurenetsystems.net, and scroll to CT-Outdoors-30320—The-Common-Good-Gardens.

For more information on Common Good Gardens, visit www.commongoodgardens.org and RSVP for the March 21 free brunch by emailing commongoodgardens@gmail.com

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