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On March 20, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced the closure of all non-essential businesses, effective March 23. Prior to that announcement, First Selectman Peggy Lyons told The Source she was putting together a task force in town likely headed by Selectman Bruce Wilson that would seek to liaison with town businesses, mostly aiming to provide guidance and resources to business owners that are dealing with seismic shifts every day in the conditions they face.
Lyons said she has also had conversations with State Representative Noreen Kokoruda (R-101) about working with businesses.
“We also don’t know how long this situation is going to prolong,” Lyons said. “There’s not as much that can be done immediately, because we’re in, obviously, crisis mode now, but I think this is more about trying to be a strong resource and a help to these businesses as we kind of come out of this.”
What exactly the town will be able to offer as far as assistance is still unknown, Lyons told The Source, but she said she hopes having dedicated people in local government with be a comfort and a steadying hand during the upheaval
“It helps them to know that there’s a team they can go to...rather than them feeling like they’re on their own,” she said.
Other Town Efforts
The town also announced on March 20 that all town offices will be closed beginning March 23, in a further effort to combat the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Town staff will continue to be available by phone and email as they work remotely, according to the release, with residents encouraged to conduct business online whenever possible.
All public playgrounds will also be closed, according to the announcement from Lyons.
Later in the day, Lyons also announced that the state Department of Public Health had confirmed the first coronavirus infection of a Madison resident—a 34 year-old man who is “doing well” and is not hospitalized.
Town officials are working with the man to “limit any potential for exposure,” according to the announcement. On March 17, the town had announced that a student at The Grove School, a private boarding school in Madison, was the town’s first confirmed case of COVD-19; that student returned to his New York home to convalesce.
Lyons also officially released an emergency declaration that “strongly discourag[es]” any type of gathering of more than 10 people, consistent with guidelines released last week by the federal government that seek to stem the tide of the worldwide pandemic.
“These measures are being taken to protect the health and well-being of our seniors and children. We are in a state of emergency and the public must take the situation seriously,” Lyons said in the release.
In both announcements, Lyons reiterated the practices that health officials around the world have been expounding on for weeks or months: maintaining social distancing, avoiding any type of crowd, washing hands for 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, and staying home if you are sick.
Lyons said the town will continue to operate based on guidance provided by state agencies and health organizations, the most effective way to stem the spread of the virus.
“The reality is we expect there will be more people...that will have positive tests as the testing becomes more available,” she said.
With the continued evolution of state and federal guidelines, Lyons said, she was focused on keeping consistency with what other towns were doing, seeking the best health practices in all aspects of combating the virus.
“If one town does one thing and another town does something differently, that doesn’t help the situation. We should all be making decisions on a regional or statewide basis, because people cross fluidly back and forth between towns,” Lyons said.
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