Third case of coronavirus identified in Fairfield; officials urge residents to follow guidelines

FAIRFIELD — A third case of coronavirus was identified in Fairfield Thursday morning, according to officials.

In a press conference, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said health officials had confirmed the case. She again urged residents to practice social distancing.

“I am asking the residents of Fairfield, in the strongest possible terms, to take this very seriously and stay home,” Kupchick said. “The (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) prevention tips clearly state that we need to avoid contact with people who are not with in our immediate family.”

Kupchick said she had received emails from people unhappy that the town has closed beaches, parks and school grounds. She said she was also receiving numerous reports and photos of crowded beaches and children playing sports together on school property.

“This is putting our children, your children, at risk and, consequently, you and every person they come in contact with in our community,” Kupchick said. “Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day, and I understand the urge to get out and be outside, but we need to practice safe social distancing.”

Kupchick asked residents to go on walks or runs in their neighborhoods, play in their yards or do yard work. She said people should not congregate in the closed public places.

“I am urging our residents to listen to the guidance of health care professionals and stay home unless you need groceries or medical supplies, so that we can flatten the curve,” Kupchick said. “To be clear, this means changing our normal routines to stop the spread of this highly contagious virus.”

Kupchick said it was up to residents to protect each other.

Fairfield Health Department Director Sands Clearly said the Connecticut Department of Health has confirmed that community transmission is occurring in Fairfield. He said the state estimates that for everyone confirmed case there are 100 unconfirmed cases in the community.

“For Fairfield County alone, that means there are somewhere around 7,000 cases... and almost 10,000 in our state,” Cleary said. “This number is growing significantly every single day.”

Cleary said there is a chance for tens of thousands of people to be infected and for hundreds to die.

“Those who pass will likely be our parents and our grandparents, but it will also be those who have underlying medical conditions,” Cleary said. “It is likely that every household in town will be impacted and everyone will know of someone who passed from this virus.”

Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Denis McCarthy said the Emergency Management Team is reminding people to keep six feet away from others.

“Parents should have these difficult conversations with their children,” McCarthy said. “Please help them understand and develop new habits that can reduce the chance of transmission. No age group is immune from these requirements.”

McCarthy said town offices would remain closed but phone calls would be answered by employees working from home.

“The building head count among the town hall departments is less than 25 percent of normal staffing,” McCarthy said. “Those folks will be working on staggered hours. Many staff have work-from-home assignments and will continue to maintain essential operations.”

Police Captain Robert Kalamaras said the department has received reports of people moving no parking signs at recreation areas.

“We all love our town’s recreation areas and open spaces, and there will be a time when we can return happily to these spaces as a community,” Kalamaras said. “However, the town of Fairfield and the Fairfield Police Department must reiterate that this is a serious health crisis and everyone needs to do their part in helping to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Kalamaras said the public spaces are not being maintained because of reduced staffing but that the department will be stepping up patrols.

“Our officers will start by politely asking people to leave the parks and beaches while they are closed,” Kalamaras said. “We are asking for everyone’s cooperation in this effort, as it will keep you and your families and our officers safe and healthy.”

He said more serious measures, such as arrests, may be used for repeat offenders.