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.