NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk COVID-19 updates:
- 20 more Norwalk positive cases
- Rilling: Some costs may be reimbursed
- Free parking through April
- Rilling again warns that parks could close
- Chamber seeks support for change to stimulus
- Mobile field hospitals
- ICYMI headlines
“Since yesterday, there are 20 new positive cases in Norwalk, bringing the total positive reported cases in Norwalk to 66. In Fairfield County, the number of new positive cases went from 384 to 546,” Mayor Harry Rilling’s Wednesday update said.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s update shows 47 hospitalizations in Fairfield County and 12 deaths. That’s up from 23 hospitalizations Tuesday and seven deaths. Lamont said during a news conference that the deaths continue to be older people.
There were no new deaths reported in Norwalk.
What about the budget?
NancyOnNorwalk asked Rilling how the use of the Rainy Day Fund would affect the 2020-21 operating budget. He replied:
“We continue to monitor the situation and will be keeping track of all expenditures related to COVID-19. We will seek federal reimbursement for any and all expenses that might be eligible.
“Thankfully we have a healthy fund balance and will be using it as necessary to help offset some of the potential costs associated with COVID-19.
“As this situation continues, we will evaluate both our capital and operating budgets to determine what changes might be appropriate.”
The Rainy Day Fund, or fund balance, was $69 million on July 1. The Common Council set a budget cap that allowed for an $8 million drawdown. That cap provides a $9.9 million increase for the school system but Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Steven Adamowski recently laid out potential “cuts” to the Board of Education budget.
Rilling did not offer any thoughts on Adamowski’s proposed $6.6 million in reductions, although he was asked about that.
No, Rilling has not been tested for COVID-19, he said.
The Norwalk Parking Authority voted Tuesday to halt all parking fees for street, surface lots, and garages for the entire month of April, Rilling’s update said. Rilling had previously ordered that pay-to-park requirements be waived for all City metered spaces until April 1.
The Parking Authority meeting was not advertised on the City’s website. An agenda was posted. The meeting was held by teleconference.
Social distancing, in the parks and stores
Weather prediction for today, March 26, call for sunny and dry conditions, with a high of 55 degrees.
“City officials strongly urge residents to stay home and limit their outdoor activities at public parks and beaches. If members of the public do use these facilities, they must adhere to the strict social distancing guidelines recommended by federal, state, and local health officials,” the Mayor’s update said.
“I again ask residents to please be aware of their surroundings and be courteous to one another. We all love our beaches and parks, and at the moment those facilities remain open, but I really need the public’s help and cooperation in practicing social distancing and not congregating in groups if they are to stay open,” Rilling said in the release. “We are all adjusting to this new normal and doing the best we can. Every day brings its new challenges and obstacles, but we will get through this as a stronger community. I thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding.”
City officials have been pressing retailers to encourage customers to keep a social distance from each other, in other words, six feet if possible, the update said.
“Mayor Rilling is happy to report that a majority of stores have implemented changes, such as opening every-other register, putting down tape or other optic cues for distancing six feet, and installing additional signage,” the update said.
Comments on social media confirm this account. There were blue taped stripes at Stop & Shop, one commenter said. Another reported sneeze guards at the registers.
The U.S. Senate’s advance of a $2 stimulus support package is lacking a key element, according to the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce.
“The package provides relief to employees and many small businesses, but it does not include support for trade and business organizations like chambers of commerce, various associations, etc. As you know, our local, area, regional and national 501(c)(6) organizations provide essential and significant services to a multitude of small businesses and nonprofit organizations,” a Chamber email said Wednesday.
“We ask you to please contact Senator Chris Murphy (202.224.4041) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (202.224.2823) and let them know that 501(c)(6) organizations must be included in this stimulus package.”
Connecticut’s second COVID-19 mobile field hospital should be up and running on the grounds of Danbury Hospital today, the Governor’s update said. The first one wadeployed on the grounds of Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford. A third mobile field hospital is expected at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown.
“The Ottilie W. Lundgren Memorial Field Hospital, under the authority of DPH, is a state-of-the-art mobile field hospital designed to support the state’s health care system in response to significant emergencies,” the update said. “It is deployable in several parts as a flexible configuration 25-bed units that operate jointly or independently to provide triage and treatment anywhere in the state in the event of a mass casualty.”
It assembles in hours and was named in 2006 in honor of a Connecticut woman who died from inhalational anthrax in 2001.