Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim calls for nationwide shutdown due to coronavirus
BRIDGEPORT — Mayor Joseph Ganim Thursday called for the nation to shut down as the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. continues into its fourth week.
“These are going to be some of the worst weeks coming up,” the mayor said referring to an expected spike in COVID-19 infections because of the city’s closeness to Manhattan.
He called for a stronger “safe at home policy” to be enacted nationally, “now, not in two weeks, not after Easter, not next month, not after more people die, not after more communities are affected, not after the remains of an economic impact becomes beyond the point that we are able to recover from in a reasonable period of time. That action needs to take place now,” Ganim told listeners Thursday during his daily 12:30 p.m. Town Hall Live meeting on the city’s Facebook site.
The mayor, who since Wednesday has done his daily updates in mask and gloves, said, “I think that’s the call that needs to be echoed and if it has to come from local leaders, from mayors, I’ll be one of the first to say that’s what we need across the country,” he said.
The mayor offered no specifics on what should or shouldn’t be closed across the country but said the current “patchwork of actions being taken could be devastating.
“People have to understand that they need to minimize their actions... go to the grocery store, pick up your take-out from restaurants but then go home and hunker down,” Ganim advised. “People need to understand that it’s important to stay at home and shelter in place for now.”
Bridgeport’s mayor was not the only local leader calling for stricter measures in keeping people safe.
Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo, in speaking with local media on Thursday afternoon, said Ganim was speaking “from the heart.”
“That’s not a foreign thought at this point,” Camillo said. “It’s been discussed by almost everybody. I don’t know if we’re there yet, but let’s look at it this way: If we had shut down for two weeks as a nation two weeks ago, how much further along would we be in flattening the curve?”
Ganim also said said the city would be passing out 2,000 masks with the free school meals as early as this week, and advised residents to start wearing masks, scarves or bandanas when they were out in public.
“If it hasn’t hit or reached you or impacted your life yet, it will in some way, some form,” Ganim said.
Ganim urged religious congregations and families to avoid get-togethers during the upcoming Holy Days: Ramadan, Palm Sunday, Passover, Good Friday and Easter. Most houses of worship are offering virtual gatherings or services that he said people should use.
The mayor also urged anyone who feels they need to be tested and is denied by their doctors to contact his office.
“If you think you need to be tested and are having a problem, I want to hear from you,” he said. “Testing is important.”
He added that a nurse has been assigned to the police department’s roll call to take each officer’s temperature. He said a fever is a good gauge of whether there’s an infection.
Ganim told listeners he took proactive steps to close down city parks and playgrounds to prevent gatherings. He said basketball courts have been chained shut and certain parks have strategically placed barricades.
“I was told about a gathering in Seaside Park yesterday so I went out,” the mayor said. “I didn’t see a gathering but I did see people walking and keeping their social distance. That’s okay.”
As of Thursday noon, Ganim said Bridgeport had 105 confirmed cases, less than Stamford’s 437, Norwalk’s 315, New Haven’s 135 and Westport’s 122.
The mayor said Bridgeport Hospital has 501 total beds and St. Vincent’s has 473 total beds, and that both hospitals were about 50 percent of capacity with current patients.