Hours after a staffer in his own office notified municipal workers this week that their holiday party had been canceled due to rising COVID-19 cases, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan denied the report, saying instead that it was “due to lack of response from Town employees who wished to attend.”
“We do NOT have a concern about local increase in COVID cases, which continue to be very modest in size compared to our population and produce very mild illnesses for those who are vaccinated,” Moynihan said in an email sent Tuesday to department heads, the Board of Selectmen and his office staff.
“We continue to urge all Town employees who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated unless there is a medical condition due to which an employee’s medical provider advises against vaccination,” he said in the email, obtained by NewCanaanite.com.
The party had been planned for Dec. 16 at Waveny House. It was to include appetizers, dinner and dessert, as well as beer and wine, and a $10 “donation” from attendees was due Dec. 13, according to an email that had gone out of Moynihan’s office last month.
At 1:05 p.m. Tuesday, Moynihan’s executive assistant emailed town employees this message:
Unfortunately, the Town Hall Holiday Party sheduled for December 16th at Waveny House has been cancelled due the recent local increases in the COVID-19 positivity rate.
There is a plan to have a holiday season celebration here at Town Hall.
You will receive an email when more information is available.
For those who have already made a donation – I will stop by your office later today to return your money.
If you work outside of 77 Main Street please stop in the Selectman’s office to pick up your money.
Moynihan’s email went out about 2.5 hours later. It started: “A clarification: The Town Hall Holiday Party was NOT canceled due to local increase in COVID cases – it was canceled due to lack of response from Town employees who wished to attend.”
At the Dec. 2 meeting of the Health and Human Services Commission, Health Director Jenn Eielson said when asked about new COVID-19 cases that the town at that point in the week had 24 positives, compared to 28 for the full prior week and just 21 two weeks earlier.
“We have been hovering around this 30 now for a couple of weeks but we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Eielson said. “Time will tell.”
Commissioner Tom Ferguson noted that Connecticut had seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the prior week. Eielson responded that with the holidays, such upticks can be expected, and that the effect of the Thanksgiving holidays likely would not be known until after the weekend.
Moynihan during a Nov. 16 selectmen meeting said that he was “very concerned” with the uptick New Canaan had been seeing, though new weekly cases at that point had not yet broken 20.
“I am very concerned,” he said at the meeting. “People start to act as though the pandemic is over. People who travel should not act like they can just attend large events. It’s bad enough they infect their families when they can back. But if you travel, please get tested and isolate so you know you haven’t come back infected.”
He added at that meeting, “This is not over. People have to continue to take it seriously. If you are are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated.”