Parking lots at Darien’s beaches and parks will reopen Thursday, according to an announcement form First Selectman Jayme Stevenson. Stevenson announced it Monday at a Board of Selectmen meeting as Gov. Ned Lamont has been discussing a slow reopening of some businesses beginning May 20.

Watch the Board of Selectmen meeting here.

Numbers

As of Sunday, May 3, Stevenson said Darien had 201 coronavirus cases, 13 hospitalizations, 4 deaths, and 76 recoveries. Five of Darien’s cases, two of its hospitalizations and two of its deaths are from assisted living facilities.

Stevenson said Darien has three assisted living facilities and no nursing homes, but the state was only tracking nursing home cases until the town asked the state about assisted living data. Only then, she said, did the state start releasing that data. Data released as of April 30 from nursing homes (read here) and assisted living (read here) did not show any Darien data.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced another 61 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, with a new statewide total of 2,556, but the twelfth consecutive day of declining hospitalizations keeps the state on track for opening up later in the month.

There was a net decrease of 24 hospitalizations, making the total of 1,464, equal to the number of COVID-19 cases in hospitals back on April 9.

“Fairfield, Hartford and New Haven are all on a downward trend,” Lamont said during his daily news briefing in the State Capitol. “The other counties have not really had a big uptick.” Read more here.

There are now 29,973 confirmed coronavirus cases in Connecticut.

Canceled celebrations

At the Monday Board of Selectmen meeting, the board voted to officially cancel the town’s Memorial Day parade and Fourth of July fireworks.

Parade chairman Terry Gaffney told the board they had considered a much smaller event with just the grand marshal and a few members of Darien’s VFW down Noroton Avenue to the Spring Grove Veterans Cemetery. This is in honor of the original honoring in Darien of Memorial Day.

Many Darien residents recall that between World War I and World War II, the Commandant of the Home gave an address on Memorial Day. Several hundred veterans would march from the Fitch Home down Noroton Avenue to the Spring Grove Cemetery. The soldiers march wearing their Civil War blue uniforms with black hats, or the younger veterans in their Khaki uniforms, rank after rank of them, all very somber and thoughtful. The disabled veterans came in buses. The spirit of Memorial Day was never stronger in Darien. Here were hundreds of veterans marching to pay their respects to fellow veterans. There are over two thousand soldiers buried at Spring Grove Cemetery. Read more here: https://portal.ct.gov/DVA/About-Us

Gaffney also wrote a letter asking residents to still honor the day in their own way. Read it here.

The Darien Times is still running its Memorial Day special section. If you have submissions, questions, or have any other ideas or questions, email sshultz@darientimes.com. If you wish to place an ad, email charles.howe@hearstmediact.com.

Schools

Schools are currently closed until at least May 20. Dr. Bryan Luizzi, New Canaan Schools Superintendent and president of the Southern Fairfield County Superintendents Association, believes the schools in Connecticut will be closed the remainder of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Luizzi believes Gov. Ned Lamont will announce at his press conference today, Tuesday May 5, 2020, that schools will not reopen May 20, 2020, as he had presently directed. Read more here.

Darien schools continue with eLearning. While schools remain closed, the district is offering a grab and go free lunch program. Read more here.

With the economic impact of the coronavirus being considered, the Board of Education has been having some tough conversations about how to reduce its budget. Read more on that here.

Board of Finance

The Board of Finance is meeting to discuss reducing the town budget to keep the mill rate flat. The Board of Selectman already reduced their budget and the Board of Finance will discuss both in the coming week. The Board of Finance is meeting May 7 to talk about the Board of Selectmen budget, May 12 to talk about the Board of Ed budget, and a final vote May 14. Here’s a full town meeting schedule.

Open or closed

Some residents on social media have pushed back against the continued business closures in Connecticut and in Darien. Many residents have expressed concern with the amount of pedestrian and bike traffic on Pear Tree Point Road. Read a letter here.

At Monday’s Board of Selectman meeting, First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said the parking lots to the town’s beaches and parks would be reopened to vehicular traffic. She added that enforcement would be in place to ensure proper social distancing.

When Selectman Christa McNamara asked about the specifics of enforcement, Stevenson said it would not be Darien Police, but security staff, and it would be gentle enforcement unless things became a problem. While Stevenson said she would not speak for the Darien Police Department, she added that courts do not currently want to deal with citations issued for social distancing and even if they were issued, given court systems being slowed due to the virus, such a citation wouldn’t even be handled for months.

Businesses that could reopen on May 20 include hair salons, nail salons and restaurants for outdoor service only. Read more here.

Darien’s Planning & Zoning Commission intends to discuss allowing some temporary outdoor seating for restaurants until a full opening at its meeting Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Read more about that and how to dial in to watch the meeting here.

The Darien Chamber of Commerce is offering a special coronavirus update section on town businesses. Visit the section here.

One Darien High grad spoke about her challenges working in a grocery store in an opinion piece exclusive to The Darien Times. Read it here.

GoFundMe campaigns have been established for employees of the Sugar Bowl and Neat. Read more here. A GoFundMe has also been created for the bartenders of Chéz Ernie’s. Read more here.

Mask or not to mask

Another discussion at the Board of Selectmen meeting was masks.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said masks are needed when you can’t keep yourself socially distant indoors.

“You do not need to wear a mask if you are running or biking,” she said, adding that social distancing needs to be maintained. This will be part of the monitoring of beaches and parks with the reopening parking lots. Those who have a medical issue that is exacerbated by masks are also exempt from wearing them.

“The bottom line is use your good judgment. There are circumstances where masks are not required. I see a lot of judgment of people who don’t wear masks in public. If you are well-distanced, you are fine without a mask,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson added she is talking to the Human Services Planning Council and the Community Fund of Darien regarding a wider distribution of masks to the community. She said while New Canaan distributed surgical masks to the community, those masks were disposable and not meant to be worn more than a few times.

She also added that all of the town’s most vulnerable had been provided masks.

“All of our seniors have been provided cloth masks, and all of our vulnerable families have been provided cloth masks,” she said. Stevenson also said that a donation of masks had been distributed to Darien’s assisted living residents.

“Any further mask distribution would be to the general public,” she said.

Good news

The Community Fund of Darien is holding a family dinner to support those in need on Saturday, May 9. You can add flowers for Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10, at checkout. Read more here.

Maplewood recently celebrated the 100th birthday of resident John “JJ” Jinishian with a Post Road parade. See a slideshow here.

Darien teen starts a gift card program to support local Darien businesses. Read more here.

A Darien resident is collecting goggles for health care workers. Read more here.

Animals continue to bring joy to Darien residents during the pandemic. Read about bird watching, horseback riding, dogs, cats, hedgehogs and more.

Testing

Darien is conducting testing at Darien High School Monday afternoons and Friday mornings.

Dr. Steven Murphy said Murphy Medical Associates hopes to continue to add dates as staff and supplies are available. Stevenson said that those who want a test do not need a doctor’s prescription, they can visit coronatestct.com.

Murphy Medical and the town are also exploring the ability to provide antibody testing in Darien when it is available — it is unclear when that might happen.

As to how you know if you have recovered from the coronavirus, Stevenson said the patient must be symptom free for 72 hours without the use of fever reducers. Then you will be tested twice within 24 hours and both tests must come back negative.

More info: darienct.gov

Virtual visiting

Many of Darien’s non-profit organizations are offering ways to participate virtually.

The Darien Historical Society is offering virtual tours and asking residents to contribute photos or videos to document the historical time of this pandemic. Read more here.

The Mather Homestead is offering a blog that details what historical treasures are found in its attic. Read more here.

The Darien Community Association is holding its annual plant sale online starting May 1. Read more here.

The Darien Library offers many online resources on its website. Read more here.

The Darien Arts Center is offering online classes that can be taken virtually in drawing, music, and more. Read more here.

The Depot Youth Center is partnering with the Darien YMCA to offer virtual online yoga classes. Read more here.

Giving back

Corbin Cares was launched as a combined effort of several Darien non-profits and businesses to donate meals to medical front lines, seniors and food insecure families in Darien. Read more about Corbin Cares here.

The Community Fund of Darien continues to seek donations for their Touch-a-Life emergency fund — that helps those in critical situations. Darien Human Services is also working with this fund. Donate here. Please indicate if your donation is for Darien Human Services.

Darien Human Services is seeking to remind the town they are still there for the community. They also suggest residents donate gift cards from local retailers. Read more here.

Please call the office at 203-656-7328 or email Ali Ramsteck at aramsteck@darienct.gov.

Person-to-Person is now offering home delivery to those unable to shop for their own groceries. More here. Food and monetary donations are also needed. Find out more here: https://p2phelps.org/donate/

If you need meals, reach out to Darien Human Services above. Read more about senior resources here. Some seniors still are finding ways to connect. Read more about that here.

Resources:

Murphy Medical Associationscoronatestct.com

Town of Dariendarienct.gov

Center for Disease Controlcdc.gov/coronavirus

State health departmentportal.ct.gov/DPH

Keep up with town meetings on Darien TV 79’s Vimeo channel here.

If you need help or need to be connected to resources, email sshultz@darientimes.com.