Westport confirms first coronavirus case
WESTPORT — The town’s first positive case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has been confirmed by the state Public Health Laboratory, according to the health director.
“Westport’s first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed late last evening by the State Public Health Laboratory,” Mark Cooper, health director of the Westport-Weston Health District, said in a statement posted on the health district’s website Friday. “This was expected and comes as no surprise.”
Residents experiencing symptoms who wish to be placed on the list to be screened for testing can call 203-227-9571 ext. 237 and leave their name and telephone number.
When reached on Friday, Cooper said the patient is a woman between the ages of 40 and 50 and is recovering at home. It remains unclear how she contracted the virus.
As of Friday evening, there were a total of 11 Connecticut residents confirmed to have the virus.
In his statement, Cooper said the number of Fairfield County test results will start increasing once more of those collected Thursday return from the lab.
“It is my understanding that once a nasal swab is sent to the lab, the results should be back in three to five days,” he said. “The samples collected today are being shipped overnight to a private laboratory in California because the State Laboratory is running near or at capacity.”
The health district received its first batch of test kits on Wednesday before beginning limited testing on Thursday afternoon.
The news comes after town schools closed on Thursday following a dozen residents experiencing flu-like symptoms after attending a private party in town, where one guest from out of the country was believed to have the coronavirus.
It is currently unclear the age, gender or status of the Westport coronavirus patient, or if they were even connected to the gathering.
In addition to Westport schools, other locations have closed until further notice, including the Westport-Weston Family YMCA, Earthplace, the Westport Museum of History and Culture, the Parks and Recreation Administration Office at Longshore Club Park, and Wakeman Town Farm. The Westport Library is closed for the weekend and is expected to reopen with limited services on Monday.
The town of Wilton specifically cited the Westport party as the reason for its abrupt school closures.
“Wilton residents attended the party,” Wilton First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice wrote on her Facebook page. “Fortunately, they acted responsibly and reported their exposure, which allowed us to take action in an effort to contain additional spreading of the virus.”
Cooper said the health district is expecting to receive around 40 more test kits and will notify those exhibiting symptoms when the next round of testing is scheduled.
“There is a waiting list from which we will draw the names to be tested in the next round,” he said.
In the meantime, Cooper warns residents to stop planning social gatherings and other activities due to closings around town.
“The intent of closing schools, business offices and other places people congregate is to prevent, or at least slown down, the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19,” Cooper said in the statement. “The school and other cancellations should not be viewed as a holiday and a time for partying and celebration.”
With COVID-19 now in the community, he cautioned residents to assume it is everywhere.
“Social gatherings, large and small are discouraged until the virus has run its course,” he said. “Those who continue to congregate without appropriate personal protective equipment and do not diligently practice the simple protective measures of washing hands, etc. — are the ones who will be getting sick.”