Thursday night around dinner time the robocall from Greenwich First Selectman Fred Camillo came through with a message for younger residents and their parents reminding them of the 4 W’s: wash your hands; watch your distance; wipe down surfaces, and wear a mask.
The recorded phone call was followed by an email a news flash.
“You know that we cannot enter a store, restaurant or any public building without a face mask. You get the message and we comply with that rule,” Camillo said adding, “We cannot be complacent, lax, irresponsible and disrespectful by not following that mandate.”
Camillo said his office had received multiple complaints about young people going to large gatherings, picnics, cookouts and pool parties while not wearing masks or social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“You may be with friends and family, but you don’t know who they all have had contact with,” he warned, adding, “And if you have traveled out of state, we want you to follow quarantine guidelines as outlined by the Governor’s executive orders.”
Indeed, Facebook brimmed with frustration on the part of parents this week, and some were pointing fingers.
One Greenwich mother said it felt like parents of young children were pitted against parents of teens, telling them to ‘just keep their kids home.’
Meanwhile young people were posting photos of large parties in Greenwich on social media.
One Facebook group had hundreds of comments about teen parties last weekend that resulted in Covid positive tests this week.
There comments about “knowing where your kids are” and even a debate about whether “beer pong” was safe to play since people only drink out of their own cup, but on his Friday morning radio show Camillo said people shouldn’t touch items other people have touched. That would certainly include a ping pong ball.
Given the heated debate about school reopening, some commenters said they feared the positive cases among young people might impact fall school reopening plans.
In Darien there were 6 new confirmed virus cases on Wednesday, and 5 of them were people aged between 10 and 19. The last time that town reported 6 cases in one day was back in April.
As of this week Darien has had 226 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 5 deaths.
Camillo said the Health Dept reported were 13 new cases in the week leading up to July 21, with a cumulative total of 871 residents who had tested positive and 52 deaths.
Responding to a request for comment Friday morning Camillo said, “Our Health Department has been doing contact tracing for months, but it’s only as effective as the cooperation and information they get from the residents. They need the names and contact information of people who were infected in order for their mission to be successful.”
Multiple sources in Greenwich, including teens from the class of 2020 and 2021, and parents replied to a GFP request for information. They said a group of graduating high school seniors in Greenwich returned from a trip to Nantucket and at least one of them attended a large party last weekend. Then, people from that party attended a second large party over the weekend.
Those parties were attended by teens from Greenwich High School and two Greenwich private schools, and resulted in positive Covid-19 tests this week.
The parent of a member of the GHS class of 2020 said it didn’t feel fair for parents of young children to pass judgement on parents who let their teens go out at night to parties. She said it was simply impossible to keep teens and college students at home.
Another mother said her child’s summer camp at a country club suspended operating and that counselors were being tested and are under quarantine.
Some sports leagues and teams have suspended practices.
A boy from the GHS class of 2020 who attended parties last weekend said he and his classmates were under the impression Connecticut had “flattened the curve” and they felt like they were no longer in danger.
Parents are urging other parents to get their teens tested if they attended any of the parties.
“If your child went to the three parties this weekend, you know who you are,” one parent wrote on Facebook, adding. “Stay home and quarantine even if you have a negative (test) from Urgent care. Incubation of symptoms and viral shed is 2-5 days…meaning now their families are exposed and will be hit with virus if they are in another 2-5 days.”
On his radio show Friday Camillo said, “I think people are unfortunately getting complacent and we’re getting reports of parties, large gatherings and infections involving younger residents. The reverse 911 call was to parents and young adults who maybe think they’re not vulnerable. …They could infect someone with a compromised system and it could kill someone. …Why take the chance. Why be selfish. Why be reckless?”
Camillo said he did not want to have to reinstitute closures.
“That’s the last thing anybody needs. We need to establish some sense of normalcy,” he said. “Don’t have parties. Not yet. It just doesn’t make sense. If you have to go to a gathering, keep your distance, don’t touch things – if you do, wash your hands – and wear a mask.”
Camillo urged small scaled down events where people follow the protocols.
“If there are large gatherings where you can’t control the contact, put it off to another time,” Camillo said.