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Norwalk Health Department: ‘prepared to respond’ to coronovirus

A clip from a flier distributed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk officials are expressing confidence as global concerns rise about the coronavirus.

“Right now there are no cases in Connecticut for coronavirus, or Virus Disease 2019, but it’s something that we of course, are closely monitoring,” Director of Health Deanne D’Amore said Thursday. “ We have been on calls weekly conference calls with the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the CDC has been hosting conference calls with all the health departments across the country once a week, the state health department has been hosting conference calls … with local health departments. So this is a situation that we have been monitoring, you know, closely since it began.”

D’Amore was quizzed about virus preparation by the Common Council Health and Public Safety Committee on Thursday evening, where Norwalk Chief of Social Services Lamond Daniels also answered questions. This followed Mayor Harry Rilling releasing the following statement:

“I want to assure the public that we are monitoring the coronavirus closely and taking the matter seriously. Although there are no confirmed cases in our area, we should all take necessary precautions. Residents can take steps to stop the spread of germs by washing their hands regularly, covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing, and if they feel sick, to stay home from work or school. If someone feels flu-like symptoms, please contact your health care provider.

“I am in frequent contact with the experts at the Norwalk Health Department and Norwalk Department of Emergency Management. We are meeting regularly and are receiving updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. We all must be cognizant that there will be disinformation and rumors circulating online. As this situation is evolving, we will be providing the most up-to-date and accurate information residents can trust at norwalkct.org/coronavirus.”

 

“CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and which has now been detected in 50 locations internationally, including cases in the United States,” the CDC website states.

There’s one case of coronavirus in the area, in Massachusetts, D’Amore told the Committee.

Six New York City residents have been tested for the coronavirus, and the tests have come back negative, the New York Daily News reports. There are 14 confirmed cases in the country, according to the CDC.

The CDC’s first response was to monitor travelers and notify local health departments if there was a traveler coming to their area, D’Amore said.

“The ask is self-isolation (for patients) with under public health supervision,” she said. The health department would contact the patients and guide them.

“That has been the response and continues to be the response of health departments across the country,” she continued. “But with recent activity and seeing it spread to other countries, we’re doing more to prepare for the possibility of community spread, within our own cities and towns and states throughout the country. It’s important, we hope for the best but … we have to be prepared for anything and so we’re brushing up our plans that we have many existing plans already that are very relevant to the situation.”

All of the Council members present expressed faith in the Norwalk Health Department. Committee Chairman Nick Sacchinelli (D-At Large) called the Health Department “impressive.”

“It’s a matter of getting back to our core public health practices and recognizing that we won’t have a vaccine for another year,” D’Amore said. “So, if it were to occur in our communities, looking at different community mitigation measures that might need to be taken into consideration.”

As far as communication goes, “One, we are committed to keeping our website current,” Daniels said. “Two, we will be meeting with the … superintendent’s office (this weekend), to support them in whatever they release. How can we be a resource to them through the health department, and that may well be happening within the next 48 hours, from either tomorrow or Monday. And I believe they’re going to do something …We can’t say what they’re going to do, but the openness and the conversations are there.”

Rilling is intent on there being one message, they said.

Dominique Johnson (D-At Large) asked if the City would help Norwalk Hospital “if all of a sudden they get an influx of people who are expressing symptoms of coronavirus, deeply quarantined.”

“Usually hospitals will work with each other,” D’Amore replied.

Given that Connecticut does not have county government, many costs fall upon individual communities. Sacchinelli wanted to know if there’s an estimated cost to mobilize city resources in the event of a pandemic.  D’Amore wanted specifics on the word “mobilize,” and Sacchinelli asked how the federal-municipal-state dance would play out.

Decisions for quarantines reside in local health directors, but the state can declare a public health emergency, she replied. Norwalk is not lacking in assets to deal with an outbreak, she said.

Masks won’t protect the uninfected, she advised.

Health officials would look into easing the ban on bleach in the schools, if it’s necessary, D’Amore said, responding to a question from Thomas Keegan (R-District D).

“I’m really confident in our health department,” D’Amore said. “I’m really confident in our city, our emergency management, our state, you know, or the state health department is an amazing resource and asset to us, the CDC. So I think, you know, like, this is, this is public health practice. This is what we do. So we are prepared to respond.”

11 comments

Concerned Taxpayer February 28, 2020 at 6:40 am

I have more faith in local government than the Federal government after Trump limited Health Officials and Scientist communications by directing all statements to flow through the Vice President. It is scary when government aims to control health communications like that. I am grateful for the Norwalk Health Department, Chairman Sacchinelli & the Council, and yes the Mayor for the attention on this. It seems one message is ok as long as it’s not limiting of what health professionals have to say. Great question by Dominique Johnson.. their won’t be a vaccine for another year, this will be interesting.

This virus was apparently transmitted from bat to human in China. The silver lining is that the Chinese Communist Party is FINALLY cracking down on its dangerous illegal wildlife trade. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

Peter Torrano February 29, 2020 at 9:56 pm

I just watched our United States Surgeon General speak about the coronavirus. He spoke about how his department is preparing to protect our citizens. He detailed how our country under the direction of President Trump through Vice President Pence and a slew of highly qualified medical professionals are working diligently with medical personnel around the world to do their best to limit and ultimately cure this virus. He was very professional and informative.

Vice President Pence and President Trump were not with him. They were not looking over his shoulder. They were not slipping him notes and he was not reading from a monitor or prepared speech. He stood on his own. The Norwalk Health Department was not with him. And the sky is not falling.

Concerned Taxpayer March 1, 2020 at 6:26 am

@ Peter T, was the communication vetted by the VP??The sky is not falling, only the stock market has been hammered, there are travel bans, Government says the public should not be buying masks but health care workers should use them.

Jennifer Ehrlich, a 3M communications manager said in an e-mail.. government contract info for respirators would have to come from the Office of the Vice President… maybe you can inform us on what’s happening with mask production?

The US had its first death, college kids study abroad programs are being canceled, CDC’s funding has been cut considerably, but no big deal, it should be life as usual this week.

Again, was the surgeon generals communication that you are talking about vetted by the VP??

Peter Torrano March 2, 2020 at 1:22 pm

I doubt that his free wheeling talk was ‘vetted’ by the Vice President. But if you feel the need to believe that with no supporting documentation or proof, go right ahead.

Yes, there has been two or three deaths, sorry to say. But those numbers pale in comparison to many of the known flu strains.

There have been many medical professionals who have advised that the masks are not needed by individuals because they are not of use. There are many other reasons for medical professionals to use those same masks, and the concern as you have probably heard is that by having a run on them by non-medical professionals causes a shortage for when they are really needed.

Ask the Norwalk Health Department you have referenced to see if what I say is accurate. Call them and ask if you should buy a mask.

Incidentally, the markets are down globally. It wasn’t Trump who made them go down. It was he who made ours go up.

Peter Torrano March 2, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Oh, and while you’re at it, Concerned Taxpayer, look up Ronald A Klain. He is an attorney and political activist. It was he who President Obama appointed as the Ebola Response Coordinator for America. Not a doctor. No skill level or understanding of Ebola. Do you think he told his medical assistants what to say.

You’ll also be happy to hear that the stock market had its biggest single day ever today, up almost 1300 points.

Concerned Taxpayer March 3, 2020 at 12:21 am

Last week NYTimes: “The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to coordinate all statements and public appearances with the VP Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach.”

Recent quote from Klain, “But the problem is, that the administration has silenced the people we can trust,… leading authorities from the CDC as well as Prevention had basically “been gagged” as well as quit from speaking in public concerning the episode.”

I understand masks are better suited for medical professionals right now, but don’t tell me a mask is not useful in protecting someones face from contact with potentially fatal germs.

The sky is not falling unless you’re fatally ill or in quarantine. The historic market bounce back is not as high as the rate coronavirus is spreading. Now it’s in NY, Mass, NH. Fortunately Trump said only a few months until a vaccine is rolled out.. You believe that, right?

Peter Torrano March 3, 2020 at 4:05 am

I won’t tell you masks don’t matter. That’s why I suggested you call the Health Department and let them tell you. Did you?

And Klain has no more knowledge of masks than have you or I. Remember, he’s an attorney not a doctor. You side-stepped the point that Obama put an activist non-elected appointee in charge of the Ebola crisis. Yet you fret over the VP of the United States heading up the fight against the Coronavirus. It was you who said you didn’t trust him because he would (you allege without proof or reason) not let the medical professionals speak freely. Did you voice the same complaint when Klain was appointed by Obama?

The 800 pound gorilla in the room is this: you just don’t like Trump, and that’s what seems to be the cause of your angst.

Concerned Taxpayer March 3, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Actually I have concern when Government aims to control the dissemination of information and medical announcements. I do not remember such restrictions with Klain / Obama.

I do not need the health department to tell me a mask adds a layer of protection over my face, that is common sense, and the WHO addresses it.

Major interest rate cut, and the market is down significantly.

Where I’m really lost is how all the tax cuts and low interest rates are part of a fiscally conservative agenda. The National debt is exploding. They boast of historically low unemployment, why the need to keep rates low?

Peter Torrano March 3, 2020 at 5:39 pm

Concerned

We’re drifting off into other areas now. It’s been interesting conversing with you and maybe we will meet up again on NON over some other issue. Be well and take care.

Concerned Taxpayer March 3, 2020 at 7:07 pm

@ Peter T

I’ve enjoyed the dialogue, it’s nice to have a platform to do so. Be well also.

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