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New London Enacts Collaborative Response To Virus Outbreak

The city government has coordinated with the regional health district and school system in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

By Chris Rhatigan, Patch Staff 
March 23, 2020 

Information via City of New London

NEW LONDON, CT — The City of New London is taking a collaborative and unified approach in coordination with community partners and regional health officials to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and preserve the health and safety of residents and public employees as the pandemic runs its course.

The City's response plan has featured an unprecedented collaborative and coordinated effort, with the City, Superintendent of Schools, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and regional public health leaders working together to inform the public about health threats and to develop enhancements to critical services available. The Community Foundation has also established a fund, the Neighbors for Neighbors Fund (cfect.org/NFNFund), to immediately respond to the needs of those most impacted by the pandemic.

"We in New London are incredibly blessed to have so many gifted leaders to be working with because none of us could do this alone," New London Mayor Michael Passero said. "Many are feeling extremely strained during this difficult time, but by working together, we are confident we can meet this challenge."

Passero issued an Executive Order on March 16 which established protocols for public meetings consistent with Governor Ned Lamont's March 14 Executive Order. City boards and commissions will continue to conduct scheduled meetings with a conference call option offered to members to participate and for the public to listen in. The goal, Passero said, is to continue to provide municipal services to the greatest extent possible while observing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on social distancing.

In order to protect individuals aged 60 or older, the New London Senior Center is closed. Staff members continue to work on-site to provide services for New London's senior population, including planning for transportation of serious medical appointments and providing food and meal deliveries offered by the Thames Valley Council for Community Action's (TVCCA) Meals on Wheels program for those in need. City officials strongly recommend that the most vulnerable populations shelter in place and self-isolate, including those with pre-existing conditions identified by the CDC.

All City buildings are closed to the general public however municipal services continue to be provided. Residents are encouraged to call the appropriate city department or the city's main phone number, 806-447-5201, to be directed to the appropriate resource. The city clerk's office, while closed to walk-in services, is fully operating and residents will be directed to on-line services or asked to call for an appointment. The city Finance Office provides a drive-through window to conduct business. City employees with duties that can be done remotely are working from home.

The city's efforts have been collaborative and coordinated. Before any coronavirus infections appeared in the State, City officials met with the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) to provide the basis for its plan to protect both residents and employees. Following those discussions, the city police and fire departments altered staffing availability to ensure emergency response plans as needed. City emergency managers have also worked with L+M Hospital's emergency department to provide signage that directs patients away from the Emergency Room to a triage area at the hospital.

"We are working closely with municipal leaders in the region, diligently following the coronavirus outbreak and working with our partners at the Connecticut Department of Public Health to monitor the situation and assure appropriate preventive measures are in place in our communities," said Stephen Mansfield, Director of Health for LLHD, the local health department for East Lyme, Groton, Ledyard, Lyme, New London, North Stonington, Old Lyme, Stonington, and Waterford.

"The region's response has truly been a combined and collaborative effort."

New London Public Schools closed on Monday, March 16th. Superintendent of Schools, Cynthia Ritchie, is working closely with city, health, and emergency management officials, as well as with other school superintendents in the region, to make informed and necessary determinations with the public's health in mind. "We have had multiple collaboration meetings with the Mayor, his staff and various leaders of City departments and Ledge Light Health and will continue to do so. These meetings have been incredibly valuable as we work together to program for our entire school community". Ritchie continued, "I am confident that by staying informed, providing opportunities for the sharing and receiving of information and by working together, we can deter the spread of illness among our students, staff, and fellow community members."

There are also collaborative plans to help those in need of assistance. New London Public Schools are providing children with take-out food through the school system on a daily basis. The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut has also set up the Neighbors for Neighbors Fund, which will support non-profit programs and community partners throughout Eastern Connecticut working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide assistance for the most vulnerable members of the community. Information on the fund can be found here: https://www.cfect.org/Donors/Giving-Options

"The City of New London is a critical partner as we all work together in these challenging times to address the immediate needs of our friends and neighbors," said Maryam Elahi, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. "By working together, we can get through this crisis. We have a great many caring partners working side by side demonstrating the resilience of our community."



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