Officials: Reports of young people gathering without masks in Westport

Photo of Katrina Koerting
Compo Beach is a popular walking spot during holiday vacation week in Westport, Conn. on Sunday, December 27, 2020.

Compo Beach is a popular walking spot during holiday vacation week in Westport, Conn. on Sunday, December 27, 2020.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

WESTPORT — Officials are reminding residents to cover their nose and mouth when out in public following reports of young people gathering in groups on Compo Beach without masks.

“We are aware that there have been several reports of large teen and youth groups gathering at Compo Beach without masks,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said in a townwide update Thursday. “Parents, please remind your children to wear masks when they cannot socially distance, even at the beach and other outdoor locations.”

The reminder was made the day vaccine eligibility expanded to everyone in the state 16 and older.

Marpe said most of the town’s uptick in new cases are being found in among younger residents and those in their 20s and 30s.

“Currently, there is a surge in COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, and Westport remains in the red category with 28.5 positive cases per 100,000 population,” he said. “We are seeing the effects of more social gatherings, travel and a relaxation of COVID protocols.”

He reminded residents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people refrain from non-essential travel and follow the travel guidelines, as well as continuing to follow the COVID guidelines even as restrictions are loosened and more people are vaccinated.

Mark Cooper, the health director for the Westport Weston Health District, said that his office has been speaking with the Westport, Weston and Easton school superintendents about possibly scheduling clinics for eligible students. They’re waiting on more guidelines from the state, he said.

“A major issue that needs to be resolved is that students under the age of 18 can only receive Pfizer vaccine and local health jurisdictions have only been getting Moderna from the state,” he said.

The state plans to roll out school-based clinics beginning April 19, said Sara Harris, Westport’s operations director.

Any resident in the new age group can find instructions on how to schedule for the vaccine and locations at www.wwhd.org.

“Health officials are urging all who are able and eligible to register to get vaccinated,” Marpe said.

Anyone needing special services, homebound vaccinations or transportation to vaccine appointments through Westport Transit may contact the Westport Department of Human Services at 203-341-1050, he said.

“Fortunately, many of the most vulnerable in Westport are already vaccinated,” he said. “They are enjoying the peace of mind and realization that they are doing their part to help our community, neighbors, families and friends move into a spring and summer with less fear of infection from this horrible virus.”

Plans are already starting to come together for working with eased restriction this spring and summer.

The Center for Senior Activities and Toquet Hall are planning for the possibility of outdoor and limited indoor programming in late spring or early summer and the Levitt Pavilion is planning its season. The Parks and Recreation Department and Selectman’s Office continue to plan for a Memorial Day parade.

The Parks and Recreation Department is also preparing to open its facilities and is planning to offer programs that were not available last year because of COVID-19, officials said. Longshore Golf Course is already open, as are several tennis locations, Compo Beach pickleball courts, the skate park, platform tennis, Compo basketball courts and playgrounds, Marpe said.

The Downtown Merchants Association’s Fitness and Health Expo scheduled for May 1 and the Fine Arts Festival scheduled for May 29 and 30 were already approved by the town.

The selectmen also approved using Imperial Avenue Lot for the Remarkable Theater’s Drive-In Movie Theater and for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library’s Supper and Soul events.

“To all Westport residents, I ask for a renewed commitment to working through the COVID pandemic together in a safe and responsible manner,” Marpe said. “In doing so, we can all enjoy the pleasures of our community that come with the spring and summer months.”

kkoerting@newstimes.com