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West Hartford COVID-19 Cases Spike, Town Issues Plea for PPE, Closing Tracks and Turf Fields

The tracks and turf fields are being closed as part of West Hartford's efforts to restrict crowds and ensure physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In this photo taken at the Conard track March 28, multiple groups were using the facility. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Mayor Shari Cantor spoke to the West Hartford community through an Everbridge message Friday evening. [Updated]

By Ronni Newton

COVID-19 continues to surge through Connecticut, with a huge spike in positive tests reported Friday for the state and the largest increase in West Hartford as well.

Gov. Ned Lamont reported 1,091 new confirmed positive cases statewide on Friday, bringing the overall total to 4,914. Friday’s total number of cases were based on 1,715 tests performed, a percentage of positives which the governor said was very alarming, and overall the percentage of tests being returned positive is nearly 25%.

There were 19 additional fatalities associated with the disease reported Friday, bringing the total to 131, and 82 more patients hospitalized for a total statewide of 909.

In West Hartford, 12 more positive cases were reported Friday, bringing the town’s total to 36 – a 50% increase from Thursday’s total. Demographics regarding the new cases were not immediately available, but sources report that some of the new cases involve residents of long-term care facilities.

Late Friday, Aimee Krauss, acting director of the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, said in an email that “the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 will continue to rise along with hospitalizations. To my knowledge there are no new deaths of West Hartford residents who have tested positive of COVID-19. Currently the highest age range testing positive for COVID-19 is 20-30 year old, followed by 50-60 in West Hartford. The Health District is reminding everyone to do their part. Stay safe, stay at home. We are strongly urging residents to wash their hands and to physically distance themselves when outside.”

It has been just four weeks since the state reported its first case, and two weeks since West Hartford’s first COVID-19 case – a female between the ages of 20 and 30 – was announced on March 20. West Hartford announced its first death from the disease on Wednesday.

In her message to the community Friday evening, Mayor Shari Cantor expressed her deep sadness about the death of a resident and stressed that the town is a “strong and caring community.” Amid dealing with this unprecedented pandemic, she said, “Now more than ever, we need to protect each other.”

She urged the community to follow directives regarding physical distancing to prevent community spread of COVID-19, and to self-quarantine if sick or exposed to someone who has tested positive.

She also made two important announcements – one a request, and the other some additional restrictions.

“We have an URGENT request for your help in obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) for our first responders such as N95 masks, face shields, Tyvek suits, as well as a variety of cleaning materials,” Cantor said in her Everbridge message.

PPE collection bins. Courtesy of Renee McCue

Items can be dropped off in designated containers either at the West Hartford Fire Department Headquarters (95 Raymond Rd.) or at the Public Works facility at 17 Brixton St. The complete list of requested items can be found on the website westhartfordct.gov/covid19.

In an attempt to enforce physical distancing, the town has already closed playscape, and courts for basketball, tennis, and pickleball. That has not stopped large groups from gathering, and Cantor announced Friday that the high school tracks and turf fields will now be closed, and organized or pick-up sports are prohibited on all other fields until further notice.

“Currently, our public green spaces and parks are open but only if there is compliance with social distance protocols to protect the health of all members of our community and if people cannot comply they will be closed,” Cantor said. “This also applies to the MDC properties in our town. If the MDC parking lots are full, please return at another time. Do not park on the streets or lawns – you will be ticketed for non-compliance.”

Cantor also reiterated the Food Pantry’s need for donations, and thanked first responders, essential workers at businesses like grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations, and healthcare workers. “Display a heart to show our love and appreciation,” she said.

#Heartsforhealthcareworkers on display at a West Hartford home. Photo credit: Deb Cohen

“We must remain diligent, strong and patient,” Cantor said in her message. “I know that the residents of West Hartford are very capable of meeting this challenge. Please stay safe, stay at home and be well.”

The complete text of Cantor’s Everbridge message can be found below.

Hi this is Mayor Shari Cantor.

West Hartford, we are a strong, caring and committed community.

Now more than ever we need to protect and help each other.

The most important thing every one can do is physically distance of at least six feet to prevent community spread of Covid19, and, if you are sick or exposed to someone, self-quarantine. This protects everyone. As the weather warms this is increasingly important for you to comply.

There are new cases reported every day and I am sad to report that we have lost our first West Hartford resident who had tested positive for Covid-19.

We have an URGENT request for your help in obtaining personal protective equipment (PPE) for our first responders such as N95 masks, face shields, Tyvek suits as well as a variety of cleaning materials.

If you or anyone you know has access these items, please drop them off in the designated containers at our two locations- Fire Headquarters on 95 Raymond Rd or Public Works 17 Brixton St. To view a list of needed items, go to westhartfordct.gov/covid19 website.

Our first responders are on the front lines and I am so proud and grateful for the work they do every day.

To enforce essential physical distancing we have closed all playscapes, basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts town- wide. Our high school tracks and turf fields are closed and all fields are closed for organized or pick up sports.

Currently, our public green spaces and parks are open but only if there is compliance with social distance protocols to protect the health of all members of our community and if people cannot comply they will be closed. This also applies to the MDC properties in our town. If the MDC parking lots are full, please return at another time. Do not park on the streets or lawns – you will be ticketed for non-compliance.

Town business is operating virtually. Please visit our website for updates, contacts for assistance and volunteer opportunities and donations. Our food pantry is need of your assistance. To donate, please visit westhartfordct.gov/food.

In addition to our first responders, I want to thank all of the essential workers that make it possible for us to buy food, medications and gas. And a heartfelt thanks to our healthcare heroes working tirelessly for all of us. Display a heart to show our love and appreciation.

We must remain diligent, strong and patient. I know that the residents of West Hartford are very capable of meeting this challenge. Please stay safe, stay at home and be well.

Thank you very much for listening.

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5 Comments

  • I was wondering if the cleaning products can be homemade? I have purchased some large spray bottles and I have a ton of bleach so I was going to make cleaning solutions to give away and donate. Am I allowed to donate those or do they need to be store bought?

    • I’m not sure and would hate to steer you wrong. I would probably call the main number at the fire station on Monday and ask them!

  • BTW, be aware at least as of late yesterday afternoon, both reservoirs are shut down. Res. 6 had 6 cars and MDC police blocked it off, and Farmington Ave. was also blocked off.

  • […] West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, in her Everbridge message to the community Friday night regarding the closure of tracks and turf fields, also issued a notice about avoiding group activity on all fields. She added, “This also applies to the MDC properties in our town. If the MDC parking lots are full, please return at another time. Do not park on the streets or lawns – you will be ticketed for non-compliance.” […]

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