Hamden Suspending Group Gatherings at Town Facilities to Minimize Exposure to Coronavirus-19,
Actions to Minimize Exposure to Virus as Recommended by CDC
Statement from Mayor Curt Balzano Leng
As you know, the Town has been actively engaged and closely following what transpires with Coronavirus-19 and working to inform the public as this fast moving public health emergency increases in our State.
This morning, Hamden’s Emergency Management and Prevention Team participated in a State of Connecticut Department of Emergency Management Services State-wide Agency Update conference call regarding the State’s actions, recommendations and information surrounding the virus. This afternoon, I participated in a State-wide Conference Call of Connecticut Health Departments/Districts and health leaders, as well as a White House Coronavirus Update Conference Call to try and understand the latest information and recommendations regarding the Coronavirus-19 and how to best protect our residents. Fire Chief Merwede, our Town’s Director of Emergency Management, had numerous discussions with medical professionals and emergency management directors, collecting as much information available.
In Connecticut, the spread of the Coronavirus-19 has gone from a “Pre-Outbreak” to an “Outbreak”, according to Health Department Officials. There is an expectation among State Health professionals of infection occurring to a much larger number of our State’s residents than previously thought, certainly more than our team was aware. Yesterday the Governor issued a Declaration of Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergencies and today the World Health Organization for the first time officially recognized Coronavirus-19 as a Pandemic.
In order to do our part as a responsible local government we must do everything in our power to minimize residents’ exposure to this virus and take proactive steps to slow the spread of the virus, which we have been told will be spreading across the State and into our community very soon - if it is not already here.
In order to take the actions needed to reduce the chance of wider exposure in our Town, effective Thursday, March 12th, 2020, I am suspending all public meetings, gatherings, and events until further notice. This suspension is a public health and safety measure that can directly reduce the chances of increased infection in our community as guided by the CDC and which the Health District confirmed was a prudent step to take. The Hamden Board of Education is also placing restrictions on public gatherings, sporting events and other non-student public contact within school facilities; because they are actively and conscientiously working toward the same common goal of reducing exposure and slowing the spread of this virus.
Hamden’s Elected bodies will be making decisions on the proceedings of their scheduled meetings, including the Legislative Council, Board of Education, and the School Building Committee. Announcements will soon follow.
All other scheduled Board & Commission meetings are cancelled until further notice and may return for business via telecommunication for this period where appropriate and applicable.
Before and after school programs at all Hamden Public Schools and at the Keefe Community Center and other locations will remain operational to support our families.
Recreation programs will be fully evaluated in consultation with public health professionals in order to determine what actions we need to take with them by the end of the week.
We know that these decisions will terribly inconvenience many and sadly disrupt loved events and annual traditions. It will also be considered unnecessary by some. These are facts. But we also know that taking these major precautions will minimize exposure and slow the spread of the virus, as stated by health professionals, and therefor is the right thing to do in order to save lives.
These actions are also not meant to cause panic. Health Officials remain consistent with their message that 80% of the people that may become infected with this virus will see mild symptoms; however, that leaves 20% at very serious risk from what we’re seeing across the world, and those most vulnerable to the most serious risk include senior citizens, anyone with a compromised immune system and individuals with other underlying medical conditions. Minimizing exposure and slowing the spread of the virus becomes intensely important for the portions of our population who are vulnerable to this being a serious health risk.
While there have been discussions of limiting meetings to less than 100 or less than 75 people, which were good first steps, there is no medical professional guideline for what number of participants makes for a safer meeting. There is only the guidance specifically given regarding separation by physical distance, as listed below. This limitation on contact within 6-feet of another person is commonly called “social distancing” or “select social distancing".
The CDC states on their website:
“The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”
We will continue to encourage each of the healthy practices advised by the CDC, and the State and Local Health Departments, including advising residents to avoid people who are sick, wash your hands regularly, to not touch your face and to please stay home if you are sick. We will find new ways to further educate the public with as much information as we can.
On this morning’s State-wide Emergency Management call, it was stated that “governments need to model what we are preaching”. By taking this additional step to limit groups we are attempting to both directly protect people and work to set an example for what other organizations should be doing to reduce exposure, slow the spread of this virus and save lives.
We will continue to update you regularly as information is made available as often and with as much detail and clarity as possible.