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Potential COVID-19 Exposure ‘Has Grown Exponentially’ In Westport, Health Director Says

Westport officials hold a press conference to discuss the potential exposure of at least 40 people at a party to COVID-19.
Westport officials hold a press conference to discuss the potential exposure of at least 40 people at a party to COVID-19. Photo Credit: Town of Westport Facebook

As the number of people showing flu-like symptoms continues to grow following a party in Fairfield County where an attendee has tested positive for the novel strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the town said it is having a hard time tracking exposures.

Mark Cooper, the health director for the Westport-Weston Health District, said in a statement on Thursday, March 12, the virus has already spread from the initial introduction point in Westport to 14 new points, who then again potentially passed it on to another 14 new points, each.

"It is beyond trying to track who has been exposed and monitoring them for two weeks, to see if they develop symptoms to make sure they don’t pass it on," Cooper said. " It would be like trying to determine who knows who and who may have seen whom when. That is no longer an efficient use of resources. Contact tracing usually involves two or three people with a limited number of cases. This has grown exponentially."

The private party of about 40 people was held at a Westport home on Thursday, March 5. A man who does not live in the United States attended the event and has tested positive for COVID-19 since returning home to his country.

Cooper said he has spoken with the man and has requested his medical records.

"The fact of the matter is that this virus is going to spread unless everyone diligently practices the simple and effective control measures of washing your hands, cover your cough, keep sick children home from daycare and school, don’t touch your face, etc., every day and everywhere, until the virus runs its course," he said.

In the wake of the potential exposure, the decision all Westport Public Schools have been closed for at least 14 days. Town Hall will be closed as well on Friday, March 13.

Cooper added that although the government officials have banned gatherings of 250 or more, it is now clear that much smaller private events can be a significant contributor to community spread. 

"Getting together is in our human nature and can still be done, but everyone needs to go up and beyond the normal effort to keep everyone safe, at least until this virus runs its course," Cooper said.

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