Updated, 9 p.m.: Video of entire press conference added; more information.
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus spreading in a global pandemic.
“The individual is a 40-year-old male who is quarantining at home now and we’re not able to give out any more information regarding the individual. This is not a surprise; we knew that we would probably, in all likelihood, have a positive test here in the city of Norwalk,” Mayor Harry Rilling said Saturday afternoon.
Rilling on Saturday morning declared a state of civil preparedness emergency in the city of Norwalk. It’s not related to the first Norwalk coronavirus case, he said.
Video by Harold F. Cobin at end of story
“It was simply to allow me to have greater authority to implement strategies, which I believe would allow help me protect the citizens of Norwalk to a greater degree. Also, it would allow me to seek any available federal or state funding that might help us in the future,” he said.
The Norwalk man was tested by a private lab, Norwalk Director of Health Deanne D’Amore said.
Contact tracing is underway and the people who may have come into contact with the stricken man will be told, according to Rilling.
He would not comment on where the man may have caught the disease.
“We do not know, and we cannot discuss a lot of those things right now relative to this individual,” Rilling said. “Again, we can’t go into details regarding any identity relative to this individual. Suffice it to say we have a case and the person is under quarantine. And there is contract tracing going on.”
“Social isolation is the most effective way to mitigate the chances of this disease having a community spread,” Rilling said. “…We would encourage people to worship from home and not go to the church services because a lot of congregations are very closely packed in a lot of congregations.”
“Again, as the Mayor said, this is something that we knew was coming that was going to eventually hit us here in the city of Norwalk as it is in the state of Connecticut,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said. “So for anybody who is listening or watching right now, please take this very seriously, this is not the flu. This is a very contagious virus and needs to be treated very seriously. People need to take very good precautions.”
He continued, “The commonsense ones are washing your hands staying home if you’re sick, using tissues to cough. But more than that, we have got to practice social distancing. We’ve got to make sure that we are staying away from others right now. So, if you are at home, be at home with your family. If you’re going to go for a walk, make sure that you are six feet away from strangers.”
“Just has been said, we knew that COVID-19 would affect Norwalk and we expect to see more cases,” D’Amore said. “But there are steps that we can all take as a community to slow its spread. And just a reminder, again, personal hygiene measures, washing your hands, avoid touching your face and cleaning surfaces regularly. But right now, we are strongly encouraging that people practice social distancing, taking measures to increase the actual physical distance between people, and has been said before. Closing schools, changing employment schedules so that people can work remotely or in split shifts, and also canceling large events, meetings or gatherings.”