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Fairfield County Town Declares Public Health Crisis After 20 Test COVID-19 Positive

The novel strain of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Photo Credit: Pixabay
First Selectman Jim Marpe of Westport has ordered a state of emergency. Photo Credit: File

A local civil preparedness emergency has been declared in a Fairfield County town after 20 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe made the announcement on Monday, March 16, saying that 31 Westport residents tested for the presence of the virus, with 20 people testing positive.

Marpe said the order is allowed in the event of a local emergency that creates a risk of severe hazards to life, welfare or property.

Under the order, all restaurants, including bars, and delis are prohibited from in-restaurant and outside service. 

"No customers are allowed inside a restaurant," he said.

Delivery of food and beverages and curb-side pick-up of food and beverages is permitted, subject to all existing laws. 

Other restrictions include the closing of all commercial gyms and fitness centers and that nail and hair salons and barbershops can only operate by appointment.

There shall be no social or other gatherings of any sort at the Inn at Longshore.

Executive Director of the Westport Weston Public Health Department Mark Cooper, said the new cases confirm the "virus has developed a significant presence in our community and highlights the need to take a much more aggressive action to limit the spread of the virus through social contact."

The order was made in part because there have been many opportunities for residents to gather in groups and to further spread the virus.

Marpe said the decision has not been taken lightly, but is nevertheless demanded because of the risks of the current COVID-19 public health crisis. 

"We encourage all residents to patronize any businesses that remain open under required conditions," he said. "Westport is committed to promoting the patronage of these businesses as much as possible.”

Westport has a population of around 28,000.

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