Chesprocott Covid-19 message: Don't panic; help by donating items to health services, senior/shut-in community
By Dan Nowak
CDTC Communications staff
CHESHIRE—While the true impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on all our lives in the United States didn’t hit home for many people until February, Chesprocott Health District and its director Maura Esposito started dealing with the issue in December.
“We saw what was happening globally and the impact potential nationally, so we started contacting people to discuss the local impact back in December,” Esposito said. “We started working with Cheshire Academy first due to its unique community layout (dorms, offices, etc.).
“By January and February I was calling meetings together with town officials.”
During an interview on Monday with Esposito, Chesprocott public health specialist Kate Glendon and Chesprocott chief sanitarian and deputy chief Susan Lonczak, all had one message for local residents – you don’t have to panic.
“People are panicking and they don’t have to panic,” Esposito said. “People will get sick and some people die. We just need to do common sense things to contain the disease and limit its spread. The best advice we can continue to give is to keep practicing social distancing, wash your hands for 20 seconds and disinfect areas inside your home.”
If you are trying to figure out if there is something you can do to help during this crisis, Glendon said there are a couple of items to consider.
First, like other states, there are not enough of PPE for Connecticut hospitals, nursing homes or EMS. PPE, or personal protective equipment, is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. Second, you can donate items to help our seniors and shut-in population to help them get through this crisis.
If you have access to PPE items, Chesprocott has set up a drop-off bin in front of its facility at 1247 Highland Ave., Cheshire where you can drop off any PPE that you might have in your possession. Items needed are N95 Respirators, face masks/surgical masks, face shields, surgical gowns, gloves (nitrile or non-latex), thermometers, thermometer covers (if applicable to type of thermometer), hand sanitizer, and other medical items.
Chesprocott officials are asking Cheshire residents to donate some items for the town’s senior population and shut-ins to help them. First, you can write a note or a card to our seniors with a message to encourage positivity and hope during this crisis. Items being requested are playing cards, new puzzles, games and crafts and you can drop them off at R.W. Hine Ace Hardware, Main St. Café, Shef’s Bagels and The Bean Coffee Roasters. The notes and other items will be picked up by Chesprocott and distributed to seniors.
One thing for Cheshire residents to note. As of 11 a.m. on Monday, there were no official coronavirus cases reported in Cheshire with no positive test results. However, Esposito said Cheshire does have some presumptive positives for the disease.
“What this means is there are some people in Cheshire who have been presented with coronavirus symptoms,” Esposito said. “But because they are in that 80 percent group with low risk and no underlying problems, they have not been tested and they have been asked to just stay at home.
“At this stage, we need to ensure we have enough testing for those in that 20 percent group. Those are the ones who have more serious symptoms, like respiratory and breathing issues, and need to be transferred to the hospital. When people experience the symptoms in a mild form, we are telling them to self-isolate, take Tylenol and drink plenty of fluids.”
Since February, when our normal daily routines started taking a hit due to coronavirus, the Chesprocott Health District has been deluged with questions from the public each day. Chesprocott serves Cheshire, Prospect and Wolcott. One of the most frequent questions asked is to explain the concept of social distancing. There always is a question of the day from residents, usually the result of a new mandate or update coming out of Gov. Ned Lamont’s office.
There also has been the question of whether it is safe to go to our parks in town, which are all still open to the public.
“In my opinion, I think it’s a good idea to keep the parks open,” Esposito said. “For our mental health you need to have some kind of normalcy and that’s what these parks represent. It’s healthy to go out and get some fresh air as long as people continue to adhere to social distancing.”
Esposito said residents should be patient, stay home and eventually things will get back to some kind of normalcy.
“We will get through all of this,” Esposito said. “At some point there will be a decision if any of the items in place like remote/online schooling need to be extended. Everything changes by the hour and sometimes by the minute.
“I’m in constant communication with Town Manager Sean Kimball, Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Solan, Elim Park and all our long-term care facilities. My crystal ball says if we keep doing things like social distancing and washing hands, the virus spread will slow down. If we don’t do that, we’ll have more deaths and our health officials will be at risk. Hopefully everyone will take our advice.”
For more information and answers to other questions, you can go to www.chesprocott.org.
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.