The saying, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers …” may be the U.S. Postal Service’s motto, but it certainly applied to Wilton Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers for the Town’s distribution of over 1,700 at-home COVID self-tests to residents on Wednesday, Jan. 5. CERT oversaw the execution of an event that residents called “efficient” and “well-run,” even dealing with a freezing rain that required a three-hour delay and extended their time outside in inclement weather.
“Our mission, besides disaster preparedness training, is to support the Town in any emergency response needed as second responders. This is a perfect example,” explains Tom Gunther, Wilton CERT President. “We organize the event, deploy the equipment needed and ask our members to assist. They are always there to assist! I am so proud of our team.”
There were no cars lined up Rte. 7 waiting to get into the distribution location at Allen’s Meadow, and with plenty of volunteers on hand to direct the line of cars through the lanes set up with bright orange cones and to check people in and hand out test kits, the process took under 10 minutes for most recipients.
Gunther pointed out that in the days leading up to the event, there were 20 CERT members working behind the scenes to make it happen, to the tune of 118.5 work hours.
Wilton CERT was aided by the always vigilant Wilton Police, who themselves had a harrowing morning thanks to the freezing rain and resulting icy roads. And the event wouldn’t have happened in the first place without the dedicated town employees who had been working on organizing the distribution over a holiday break — some even from vacation — and what should have been days off from work (with stops and starts thanks to the issues caused at the state level when test kits Gov. Ned Lamont thought he secured were poached, requiring a scramble to find more).
The town was limited in the number of test kits it received and could distribute. Officials tried to come up with a fair way to determine who received kits, knowing that many would be disappointed.
As First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice pointed out to GOOD Morning Wilton in an earlier interview, “It is to be expected that people would be frustrated. Less than 10% of Wilton households were able to receive a kit based on the quantity received from the State. That means more than 90% would potentially be mad that they didn’t get one.”
Wednesday afternoon, Vanderslice responded to a Facebook post from a resident who thanked those involved in organizing the event. The First Selectwoman recognized their hard work — and what employees dealt with in the face of criticism in the days leading up to the handout.
“Everyone who put this together over Sunday and Monday (a town employee holiday) was a fellow Wilton resident — Chief of Police and [Emergency Management Director] John Lynch, Sarah Gioffre, Patricia Brandt (both of my office) and volunteers from Wilton CERT EM. Their efforts took a lot of abuse on the pages of Facebook this week and in emails. Wilton is fortunate to have residents, like them, who are willing to do the work despite the abuse,” she wrote.
Wilton Police Chief John Lynch had high praise for how CERT volunteers handled the distribution event, calling them “members of our community that continually rise to the challenge.”
“CERT volunteers spent the last several days planning for the distribution of kits as they did for the town flu clinics. Today there were 18 CERT volunteers at the distribution site regardless of the last-minute changes and terrible weather conditions. Wilton is very fortunate to have such a professional and dedicated group of community volunteers. They are known as one of the best CERT groups in the State of Connecticut,” he told GMW.
By the way, Wilton CERT will be starting its next disaster preparedness training class on Feb. 1. Anyone interested in getting involved — or simply getting more prepared — should visit the Wilton CERT website to register or learn more.
Resident Makes Chart to Simplify Schools’ Quarantine/Isolation Guidelines
One of the more difficult aspects of the COVID pandemic has been keeping up with what the quarantine and isolation guidelines are for people who have tested positive or who have been exposed. Not only has some of the messaging from the CDC been confusing, it’s complicated by multiple directives and “if-then” scenarios issued by the State Department of Education and CT Department of Public Health for school districts.
Wilton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith has regularly communicated detailed explanations of what school community members need to do in cases of positive tests or exposure but many residents were still confused.
That’s when one Wilton resident, Amy Bender, came up with a way to make it easier for people to understand. She created a workflow chart that was so clear and clearly helpful that once Smith saw it, he decided to share it with the entire district. [Editor’s note: Smith told GMW he’ll be sending it out on Thursday, Jan. 6. We’ve included a downloadable PDF at the end of the article as well.]
Bender was inspired by her own attempts to understand what she’d need to do, just in case, as the parent of a Middlebrook sixth grader. “In the emails there was quite a lot of information around quarantine and isolation and it confused me. But, I often make workflows for my job in healthcare technology, and to me this just looked like another workflow or decision tree, so I thought I’d give it a try,” Bender said, adding that she wanted to help other parents as well.
“The changing rules around quarantine and isolation have sometimes been frustrating, and I expect this will continue in the coming months. I’ve been trying to be flexible and I think the school has done a wonderful job communicating with students and parents,” she added.
After sharing it on the Working Moms of Wilton Facebook page, she’s gotten great feedback on just how helpful it will be.
“People like visuals! I’m glad I could contribute in a small way to the community,” Bender said.
Wilton’s COVID-19 Numbers
Wilton had it’s highest test positivity rate yet today, at 20.4%. Here are the stats as of Wednesday, Jan. 5:
- New one-day cases: 43
- New seven-day case count: 190
- New two-week case count: 349
- Total cases since start of pandemic: 1,949
- One-day positivity rate: 22.4%*
- Two-week rolling daily average new cases: 24.93*
- Two-week rolling daily average new cases (per 100,000): 136.22* (up from the prior record of 127.63 the previous day)
Wilton Public Schools
Wilton Public Schools data was not updated on Wednesday, with the canceled day of school. The information below is as of Tuesday, Jan. 4.
- New one-day cases reported to the schools: 108
- WHS: 54
- Middlebrook: 28
- Miller-Driscoll: 19
- Cider Mill: 7
- Staff Confirmed Positive and Isolating: 31
- Students Confirmed Positive and Isolating: 204
- New one-day cases: 10,344
- New total number of cases since the pandemic’s start: 554,812
- One-day test positivity rate: 22.6 (down from the record 23.85% the previous day)
- New one-day hospitalizations of people with COVID: 114
- Current number of patients hospitalized with COVID: 1,676
- Number of hospitalized COVID patients who are not fully vaccinated: 1,128 (67.3%)
- Data on COVID-19 associated deaths is updated once per week every Thursday. The most recently reported total number of deaths is 9,160.
* indicates a new record high
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