Report by Paula Antolini, April 29, 2020, 4:17PM EDT
Message from First Selectman Matthew Knickerbocker:
Community Update, Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
There is finally some good news to report concerning COVID-19.
At Governor Lamont’s daily briefing yesterday afternoon, the charts and graphs clearly showed a slowing in the rate of new infections being reported. In addition, the rate of new hospitalizations is beginning to drop slowly. According to Dr. Matt Cartter, Connecticut’s chief epidemiologist, it is increasingly likely that Fairfield County has passed the “peak” in the rate of new infections.
However, as Dr. Cartter repeatedly pointed out, this is entirely because the social distancing rules are working and having a positive effect.
This is not the time to stop. It is still just as important as ever to keep following the rules!
Stay home, wear a face mask in public and be extra careful to thoroughly wash your hands and clean frequently used surfaces at home and at work. The more careful we are to do that, the sooner we can begin to get back to normal.
CONNECTICUT TO BEGIN “CONTACT TRACING”
The state Department of Public Health has trained new staff members to begin contacting people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 in order to break the cycle of infection. With every confirmed case, health workers will interview the patient, learn where they traveled in their community and who they came in contact with. The health workers will then reach out to those people identified by the patient to let them know they may have been exposed and ask them to immediately begin self-isolating. Depending on when the possible exposure occurred, they may also be eligible for testing, even if they are not yet showing symptoms.
BETHEL STARTS GETTING READY TO “REOPEN”
Earlier this week I created a committee comprised of our key department heads and gave them the mission of preparing the municipal center for the day we can reopen to the public, which is hopefully not far off. This will involve many changes, including physical barriers to keep our staff and members of the public safe while they transact business, physical reconfigurations of some offices to increase distance between work stations and changes in work procedures. Governor Lamont has indicated that he may relax some restrictions after May 20th, and we will have our plans ready when he does.
With regard to reopening other town facilities, such as playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, etc., we will follow the guidance of the state’s medical and health authorities. We are also in communication with our neighboring towns to help us coordinate our reopening plans.
UPDATE ON ANNUAL TOWN BUDGET PROCESS
Please watch your mailboxes this week for a letter from the Board of Finance about our upcoming “virtual” public hearing on the budget. The hearing will be held via online video conferencing on May 12th beginning at 7:00pm. The letter will contain a budget summary and instructions on how to send comments to the Board of Finance in advance of the hearing, as well as how to log in and participate in the “live” event on May 12th.
Before I close this update, I want to thank all the workers who are doing their best to keep some normalcy in our daily lives as we all work through this global crisis. Our town’s two main grocery stores have remained fully staffed and doing their best to keep up with the extraordinary demand for key products. Bethel has many health care professionals who are putting in tremendous hours at great personal risk in their daily work to fight off this disease and help people. And I want to thank all the people who continue to donate their time and talents to help get our town through this, from food drives to hand-sewn face masks to the our great restaurants who, in the middle of a crushing blow to their own businesses, are somehow finding the resources to provide meals for others.
Please keep up the good works, and remember, for now we have to stay apart so we can stay together.