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West Hartford Mayor: Testing, Masks and Reopening Plans

Masks are available through the CBIA, at no charge, to business with fewer than 50 people. You must register and can pick them up Thursday in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor issued her 13th Everbridge message Thursday afternoon, with comments about testing, masks available for small businesses, and reopening plans.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor has been providing regular updates to the town since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and Thursday’s message included updates on testing, how to obtain masks, and some news about the reopening of some of the town’s businesses.

She also thanked the community “for your commitment to each other, protecting yourself, your family, neighbors, community, essential workers, first responders, and healthcare workers.”

Hospitalizations continue to fall across the state – with a decrease of 55 patients reported Thursday. And while the state has seen positive trends in cases and, overall, has seen average daily fatalities decreasing, the pandemic has not ended. Both cases, and deaths, continue to affect West Hartford residents.

A total of 404 West Hartford residents have tested positive for COVID-19 according to data reported by the state on Thursday, and there have been 79 deaths. Trends for both can be found below.

Courtesy of Sam Newton

Courtesy of Sam Newton

COVID-19 continues to profoundly impact nursing homes and assisted living facilities, in West Hartford and throughout the state. More than 86% of the town’s total fatalities are among residents of those facilities.

“Vigorous hand washing, physical distancing, and facial coverings are essential to controlling this virus,” Cantor said in her message Thursday.

Cantor also noted the disturbing news that symptoms, which appear to be related to COVID-19, have recently been presenting in children. “Learn to identify the symptoms by referencing the fact sheet on Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome found on our website,” Cantor said.

She also urged residents to contact their healthcare provider if they feel sick, exhibit any symptoms that could be associated with COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus. Numerous urgent care facilities in West Hartford now offer testing, as do CVS stores in Hartford, and a list of FDA testing centers can also be found on the town’s website.

In addition, the town has also launched a unique partnership with the Jackson Laboratory in the past week, with West Hartford paramedics permitted to administer tests to first responders and their families. Results are provided from the Farmington lab within 24 hours, which allows fire and police departments to respond quickly if they need to adjust personnel to be able to best protect the community.

Gov. Ned Lamont has indicated that, as long as metrics continue to be met, the first phase of easing restrictions will begin May 20.

“The town staff has been engaged in outreach to our businesses to see what will work with their vision of outside commerce as some of the state’s restrictions are lifted next week,” Cantor told We-Ha.com. “Each business has unique opportunities and challenges and we need to understand their needs and then work toward a model that has safety as a priority.”

The town has formed an interdisciplinary working group that is in the process of developing options for restaurants and retailers to utilize public spaces for their operations.

On Thursday, Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski emailed businesses the Connecticut Department of Community and Economic Development (DECD) certification guidelines. All businesses must obtain a certification badge prior to reopening.

“A permit application for outdoor dining will be available early next week,” Gorski said. The permitting process will be handled through the Planning Department, and applications will be reviewed as quickly as possible, she said.  While towns are permitted to take up to 10 days to review applications, Gorski said in most cases it won’t take anywhere near that long in West Hartford.

Restaurants that currently have outdoor dining will still have to go through the permitting process due to a requirement of review by the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, Gorski said.

In her message, Cantor also noted that the state is distributing surgical masks, at no charge, to essential small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Two masks per employee can be requested through this website, and businesses that request masks through the state’s COVID Response website will typically be able to pick them up in West Hartford the following Thursday.

“On Tuesday, West Hartford was one of the first municipalities in the state to adopt a budget for fiscal year 2020-2021 in a virtual environment,” Cantor said in her message. “I am proud that this no-tax increase budget was adopted with bipartisan support, and maintains our strong commitment to public safety, health, education, and high-quality town services while remaining flexible to react to the uncertainty that lies ahead.”

Details about the town’s adopted budget can be found here.

“We want to make sure our taxpayers are aware that the town has adopted two state programs to provide temporary property tax relief,” she added. Those eligible for the programs can defer their tax payments from Aug. 3 until Oct. 1, and can also obtain an interest rate reduction for tax bills that are delinquent as of April 1 and through June 30. Additional details can be found on the town’s website.

“Everyone counts in West Hartford!” Cantor said, asking residents to be sure to complete the 2020 Census questionnaire, which takes just five minute.

“Lastly, I am inspired by the generosity and thoughtfulness of our community during these challenging times. We are collecting these stories and posting them on our web page so we can share these wonderful acts of kindness with you,” Cantor said. Stories can be submitted at the following site: www.westhartfordct.gov/we-heart-ford

“Be well and be safe. Thank you for listening,” Cantor said.

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