Esposito: contact tracing a challenge at Chesprocott, some advice if you plan to be in a protest march, planning Phase II reopening
By Dan Nowak
CDTC Communications Staff
CHESHIRE—While local health district departments in Connecticut are still looking for some direction from the state when it comes to initiating COVID-19 contact tracing, officials at Chesprocott Health District, which serves Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott, have initiated their own version of contact tracing.
However, due to a lack of cooperation by some individuals, local contact tracing is a challenge and being done on a limited basis.
“Contact tracing really hasn’t taken off yet statewide,” Chesprocott director Maura Esposito said. “We really need a media campaign to get the message out to the public, so they know what the contact tracing is all about. We have been doing our own contact tracing, but only 50 percent of our own people in the three towns are doing it. We have had some experiences where local people have tested positive, but then they won’t give us the complete information we need to get contact tracing done.
“We had a person who tested positive the day after attending a funeral with 35 other people. With contact tracing, the idea is to get the names of those 35 people so you can contact those people and get other names of the people they have been in contact with recently. But the person who tested positive at the funeral refused to give us the information, the names of the other 35 people at the funeral.”
Esposito had other experiences where contact tracing has been a challenge. Two families decided they wanted to go on a vacation together and now they are all sick with COVID-19. Also, a local restaurant worker has tested positive for COVID-19.
Another concern for Esposito are the vigils and protest marches planned in the area in response to the unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minnesota. Last week there was a public vigil sponsored by the First Congregational Church on the Cheshire Green on Thursday and a protest march from Bartlem Park to Town Hall and back to Bartlem Park on Sunday.
“As much as our confirmed case numbers and hospitalizations are going down in our area, the virus is still there,” Esposito said. “There is still no treatment and your own body has to fight this virus if you get it.
“Irate doctors called me asking to stop the Sunday march, but that isn’t my call. The models are telling us (statewide health district officials) that these protests will produce a bump in virus cases. We are tracking the weekly trends and we are preparing for another spike if there is one. We are asking people who march to be smart and vigilant. Please practice social distancing and wear masks.”
Esposito also has a message for the leaders of protests.
“I am asking the leaders of protests to set the example, an example of safety,” Esposito said. “The Pastor who led the vigil on the Green practiced all the rules with social distancing and a face mask. If the top dogs, the person or people running these protests wear a mask and exercise social distancing, people will follow.”
Officials at Chesprocott continue to have a full plate of items on their daily agenda, especially with Gov. Ned Lamont pushing up Phase II of the state’s reopening plan from June 20 to June 17.
Among those items are planning with local educational and town leaders for potential schools reopening in the fall, planning for day camps at Holiday Hill, and Esposito has been meeting with Cheshire Community Pool Aquatics Director Sheila Adams to discuss the upcoming pool reopening in Phase II.
“My recent meeting went well with Sheila,” Esposito said. “She has put together some guidelines that are very good. We have also met with Elim Park officials to go over reopening plans for its residential section.
“So far the discussions at Elim Park have been good. Since the virus came to Cheshire, the residential side of Elim Park has gone through it very well. Mental health is very important for everyone and the people there need to move around and be social. We are doing everything we can to get them there.”
Esposito said Chesprocott has also been getting a spike in complaints from the public regarding local establishments, which she wasn’t allowed to specifically identify.
“We have been getting complaints about social distancing issues at the restaurants that reopened,” Esposito said. “Most of it involves reassessing space between tables and seating arrangements. We have also been getting complaints when it comes to some of the big grocery stores in the area.
“Our sanitarians have gone to these places to talk to people to make sure employees are doing the right things like washing their hands and wearing masks and gloves.”
Dan Nowak is chairman of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee's Communication Relations/IT Committee, a volunteer position. He is a Cheshire Parks and Recreation Commissioner and has been a sportswriter at the New Haven Register for 36 years.