First Selectman: New Local COVID-19 Cases Include Two at Party, Family of Four

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New Canaan’s top elected official said the town learned last Monday of a party where a resident who had traveled to South Carolina ended up bringing COVID-19 virus back here and, at the gathering, infected one other local person.

The two new cases account for some of the seven reflected in state Department of Public Health figures that appeared Monday in the agency’s statistics, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.

Other new cases include a New Canaan woman who tested positive at a hospital where she’d gone in for a heart procedure, an employee of the New Canaan YMCA, a woman who had a wedding at her house on Ponus Ridge where out-of-state relatives were invited, and a local family of four that is hosting a Stamford teen, Moynihan said during a regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

“That is a rather unusual case,” Moynihan said of the last, “but another indication that COVID is coming from outside rather than local transmission.”

“All of these cases are people under 50 and primarily teenagers, younger people,” he added during the meeting, held via videoconference. 

The comments came after Selectman Nick Williams said during a discussion of general matters before the town that he had thought Moynihan might do a town-wide outcall Monday night to address the DPH data on new cases in New Canaan.

“You indicated over the weekend that you were collecting data and maybe didn’t have a chance to get the data that you wanted for purposes of the outcall,” Williams told the first selectman. “I do think that with the new spikes that we are seeing, thankfully elsewhere—although it’s unclear as to whether we are starting to see spikes here—I think doing an outcall here and there when we have new information is helpful.”

Williams added, “I would encourage you to—if we do see new cases and they start to pile up—just to give shout out to folks. I am by no means advocating that we have daily calls and things like that. I don’t think we are near where we were two, three months ago, and even then they could sometimes be intrusive. But I do encourage you to keep everybody in the loop.”

According to DPH data, New Canaan on June 28 had 169 confirmed and three presumptive cases of COVID-19. On Monday, the confirmed cases stood at 179, including seven new cases reported since Friday. 

Moynihan during the selectmen meeting did not say whether he had data on the new confirmed cases related to the party in time for his most recent town-wide outcall, made last Wednesday. During that communication, he referred only to the YMCA case. Another outcall is to be made Tuesday, he said.

Selectman Kit Devereaux said she and the selectmen have received multiple emails from residents seeking more frequent updates. 

“They not getting the communication that they need and I think it would be really good if the communication were happening at least three times a week,” she said. 

Moynihan said he took last Friday and Saturday off. “My fault for that, but quite honestly we were trying to understand the picture we were seeing, and it became much more clear yesterday that we don’t have cases through local transmission.”

When Devereaux said that many people downtown are still not wearing masks, Moynihan responded, “That’s not where the cases are coming from.”

Devereaux answered, “But I am saying there is fear in community and they used to feel reassured by our communications system and they aren’t feeling that now.”

Williams said the outcall system should only be used to address changes. 

“I don’t believe in outcalls if there is no new information,” he said, adding that he had heard from some in town that the daily outcalls from April and May had “started to become intrusive.”

Moynihan said that the state reporting system has changed to include presumptive positive cases.

“We are much more in touch with our local facts on the ground, so I think we will address what transpired over the weekend and the main point is that we are seeing people traveling into New Canaan from other states or relatives,” he said. “The biggest risk in New Canaan is relatives coming to visit or you going to other state and coming back, and we appear not to have any degree, really, of local transmission except from we have come into contact with out-of-state.”

Devereaux renewed a call she’d made two weeks ago to appoint a municipal employee to remind people in downtown New Canaan to wear a mask. Moynihan responded that he sees Elm Street daily and it’s “not nearly as congested as I would have thought,” and that other towns are not assigning workers to remind shoppers and diners about masks. 

21 thoughts on “First Selectman: New Local COVID-19 Cases Include Two at Party, Family of Four

  1. Moynihan is only playing to his base. The majority of the town would like more frequent call outs and reminders to wear masks in public, social distance and frequent hand washing. Regardless where these cases originated from we have 7 new cases that without contact tracing, where those infected folks have been-grocery store, in town dinning, 7 cases could be 50 cases in a heartbeat. If Moynihan had an operating OEM, his vacation wouldn’t have delayed the information…..and btw, being on vacation during a global pandemic is really no excuse.

  2. I didn’t find them intrusive at all and if I did I could simply ignore or unsubscribe. I believe we would still like the information shared with us in real time. Thank you.

    • I was going to say exactly the same thing. If you didn’t want to listen, don’t pick up the phone!

  3. I agree we need more outcalls and messaging. Lack of messaging tells our residents that everything’s moving along fine – which it’s clearly not. We shouldn’t only hear when there’s a problem – tell us to keep up the good work. Remind us of the precautions we’re supposed to be taking. Keep our spirits up because everyone is getting fatigued from having to work so hard to stay safe. Seven new cases for our town’s size is alarming. It’s our elected officials’ responsibility to continue to reach out to all of us with information, motivation, warnings. Don’t worry about being intrusive – step it up! Do weekly calls – monthly is not enough otherwise you’ll simply be warning us of how many new cases we have.

  4. Thank you Nick Williams for suggesting that Kevin Moynihan give us all some info on the seven cases, as the initial “bare bones,” disclosure raised anxiety levels and decreased confidence in our phased reopening.

    While I defer to the First Selectman’s judgement re Mike Handler, it is a fact that town-wide communication about Covid-19 has decreased post-Handler. And, for one, I don’t buy the argument that this reduced level of communication was or is appropriate given the reduction in active cases in our one small part of CT, as evidenced by the info that has just been provided about the seven cases at issue.

  5. With reopening and the quickly accelerating number of cases in nearby states, town residents need more frequent and fulsome updates. It’s also very concerning that returning residents are not self quarantining….and if I heard properly, not even wearing masks. Downtown dining and even the coffee areas, have many unmasked folks, lingering and visiting with friends. It takes only one careless resident or visitor to start an outbreak. We need to be more diligent about enforcing quarantine and mask wearing. And reminding our residents that their careless actions can result in someone else’s serious illness or death. Our local leadership needs to be more transparent…and timely on reporting.

  6. More communication – yes. Mike’s daily calls were reassuring and calming.
    Mask police – no. There is no science supporting wearing masks in non-crowded open-air environment.

  7. Perhaps Elm St may not be as congested as Moynihan thought it’d be because people like me who see people getting more careless and complacent are staying the heck away.

    • I’ve heard this now from so many people, that town doesn’t feel safe. Wearing masks outdoors in close situations (eg. lines, sidewalks) is absolutely recommended but that message hasn’t really taken here.

  8. A First Selectman is not an OEM as evidenced now. These new cases are very troubling as is the lack of timely, transparent and clear communications. I never found Handler’s calls to be intrusive — 100% the opposite. Given what we continue to learn about the virus, our public officials should mandate masks be worn in town. They don’t want to anger the few so they endanger the many.

  9. Yes, more frequent calls–preferably by Mike Handler. His updates were reassuring and his reminders of good practice kept us diligent. Thanks, Kit, for pressing this issue.

  10. There is a wide range of difference and strategic options between reducing perceived “intrusive” communications and intentionally going to zero communications. Moynihan has abdicated all responsibility, fostering unease and distrust as to how the town is moving forward and how it intends to protect its residents. New cases will certainly continue to arise with regularity. Someone needs to take the ball out of Kevin’s hand on this, as he just keeps dropping it.

  11. The calls from Mike Handler were never intrusive, only helpful and informative. The more we know the better. It takes a united and well planned effort to fight this pandemic. Keep up the weekly calls and wear a mask.

  12. I am the local woman who had a small wedding ceremony on Ponus Ridge. I was not told that my private information that I gave the New Canaan Health Department would be posted in the news. As soon as this was published I had people texting me asking if I was ok – so obviously enough of my private information and details were disclosed that people knew who it was.

    To set the record straight, I am over 50 – 52 to be exact, there were a total of 15 people in attendance – 11 New Canaan residents, 1 Stamford resident, 2 Greenwich residents – only immediate family besides the bishop and his wife and my 26 yr old niece who was from Utah to take photos. 6 of those were my immediate family who have stayed in the same home since the pandemic started and have been very careful due to my daughter already seeing a pulmonologist and being high risk. My niece from Utah has NOT tested Positive for Covid19.

    NO ONE ELSE has tested positive for Covid19. I have NO IDEA how I got Covid19. I ended up sick two days after the wedding and since then, I repeat – no one else has tested positive for Covid19 that attended the very small private ceremony. This means, I most likely caught it while shopping in New Canaan the day before the wedding. To say that it is not being passed locally in New Canaan is VERY unlikely. Please wear your masks, socially distance, and go to stores only as necessary.

  13. The recommendation that masks be worn indoors makes obvious sense, but it is also recommended OUTDOORS when sufficient distancing isn’t possible, e.g. a slow-moving line, town sidewalks, congested areas. Many are avoiding town because not enough people are taking this precaution. I know this is all so hard, but I hope we stay cautious to keep our schools and businesses running and infection rates low.

    • I totally agree. People are avoiding downtown because they don’t feel safe, informed or considered in timely information distribution. Who is in charge at this point….and why are they not making sure rules are followed? Especially younger residents are extremely careless, roaming in groups not wearing masks. It takes a village to overcome this pandemic.

  14. I agree 100%! While reading, I had the same thoughts as you all, but worried the comments would be opposite. Why? Concerned maybe locals rely on our officials for the info instead of being eyewitnesses.
    I’m only in town, driving through to buy groceries. I’m always curious by nature & check out what people are doing. I hardly see masks outside anymore. Very little distancing. Mostly kids, but a couple adults on very rare occasions. A lot of non-compliance from my view of restaurants only outdoors. FYI, same places who have failed inspections in recent history. I go to Acme every other week if necessary. Everyone wears a mask. However, it’s the least amount of distance anywhere. It seems like too many shoppers for a small, narrow space. NCPD don’t wear masks or social distance at all! I’m not perfect. I’ve unintentionally gone the wrong way in a grocery store. I’ve stood too close to someone. I’ve touched my face or adjusted my mask. So, I want you all to know I’m not judging, just listing some observations that are appearing frequently. I appreciated Mike Handler’s info! It’s disgusting to me that someone’s very private moment & reported health info was inappropriately shared with an entire town. We never learned much if anything about the other 178 cases. As far as learning of your nuptials & illness, congratulations & best wishes for a very speedy recovery! I’ll close with recognizing the unknown source for contracting covid-19. Key word is unknown. How dare anyone rush to conclude how someone fell ill. New info is released daily. Then, changes daily. All we know is distance, self quarantine, masks, cleanliness are helping us until we do have sufficient medical answers. Are those difficult requests to fulfill for safety’s sake? I know that was quite the rant. I might have just quietly appreciated your comments. Then reading about an enormous breach of privacy & false information compelling someone to defend themselves made me mad. Hopefully, more people out there rethink the severity of this illness & apply recommendations. I wish you all & your loved ones to be safe and healthy!

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