Yesterday was a difficult day in Madison. We learned the unfortunate news that another Madison resident passed away due to complications related to COVID-19. Our deepest sympathies are with the family. We also learned one of our town employees tested positive for the virus. The employee is faring well, was not in a public interfacing role, and has been at home under quarantine since the onset of symptoms. While this type of news is unsettling, it is not unexpected given community spread is growing throughout our state.
Madison now has 21 residents who have tested positive for the virus, and we can expect this number to grow daily as the public health emergency continues. The Board of Selectmen recently extended our local state of emergency declaration for another 21 days to ensure the town can continue to take steps to protect our community and to align with state and federal actions.
On March 26th, in order to help mitigate the number of positive cases, the Governor issued Executive Order 7N that prohibits any groups for social or recreational purposes greater than 5 people from congregating. This isn’t a recommendation, it is a mandate from the Governor, and applies to all Madison residents no matter what age. The Madison police department will be stepping up enforcement of this order, especially at high traffic locations like the beaches. We will be implementing other local policies to ensure community education and compliance, especially for those young people flagrantly violating the law.
The Governor also issued a number of additional Executive Orders over this past week to keep people at home and promote social distancing. This includes new rules for grocery stores to reduce customer store capacity by half, limiting shoppers to one per family, and instituting new policies to protect workers and shoppers from cross-contamination. He also issued an Executive Order banning recreational lodging and short-term rentals, except for first responders and other essential workers, in order to prevent an increase of visitors to Connecticut from hot spot areas.
Locally, Hammonasset State Park will start limiting its capacity to ensure park visitors are maintaining social distancing and enjoying solitary recreation. Unfortunately, this may cause an influx of visitors who are turned away from the park to our local roads and recreation facilities. The town is working closely with the state to mitigate the impact any park policy changes will have on our roads. This will include parking bans on some streets and the closure of Salt Meadow Park due to its use as overflow parking. While we think it is more prudent to keep Madison’s parks open to avoid funneling local residents into possibly overloaded state parks, we will continue to closely monitor social distancing compliance locally and take further actions if necessary.
The Governor also issued several orders regarding municipal and educational budgeting, tax deferments, mortgages, insurance, and unemployment relief. More details on what these will mean for Madison residents will be forthcoming. Please continue to check the town website at madisonct.org for updates.
We are now entering a period of several important religious holidays. While we value the importance of recognizing religious traditions and symbolism, we continue to advise residents to stay home as much as possible and avoid having people gather in homes for any purpose. There is still the possibility of contracting the virus from an individual who presents as asymptomatic.
I recognize that the constant new directives from the state are coming at a rapid pace, but the town will do its best to keep the public informed when possible. In the meantime, I ask each and every Madison resident to do their part to fight this virus by staying safe, healthy, and at home.
Stay Safe Madison,