Coronavirus is not changing life in Wilton

WILTON — While the coronavirus is here, with the state’s first case reported in Wilton this past Sunday, it’s business as usual in town.

Enjoying a warm spring-like day on Tuesday, March 10, people were seen shopping, sipping coffee, and walking their dogs in Wilton Center.

Although not officially labeled a pandemic in the U.S., the illness, known as Covid-19, has infected 116,740 people worldwide, resulting in 4,095 deaths. The majority of those cases are in mainland China, where the outbreak first emerged.

However, Italy, with 9,172 confirmed cases of the virus and 463 deaths, has instituted a country-wide lockdown, quarantining the country in an effort to contain the outbreak there.

In the U.S., there have been 729 confirmed cases so far, resulting in 27 deaths related to the virus.

To prevent the virus from spreading, upcoming events such as the Zero Waste Faire at Wilton High School have been canceled, along with March programs at the Wilton Library.

Wilton public schools remain open at present but have canceled field trips and other activities through Friday, March 13. The high school will not give the SAT exam as planned on Saturday, March 14.

Wilton Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith called the situation “fluid” and said each day requires the ability “to adapt and demonstrate flexibility in this time of uncertainty.”

Hunter Arton and her daughter Elizabeth, 3, of Wilton, were at Stop & Shop on River Road on Tuesday, with Elizabeth dressed in a cheery pink dress, bouncing happily along the railing outside the store.

Arton is not especially concerned about the virus, “Everybody is doing what they can and should be washing their hands and using disinfecting wipes,” she said.

She has no concerns with Wilton schools being open at this time.

“They are doing what they can. Parents should be careful about bringing children to school who are sick. But I don’t think adding stress to children by keeping them home and making them fearful is the answer either,” she said.

With a highly active three-year-old in tow, she wants kids to have an outlet for their energy. “As long as kids can be in school and do activities we should encourage them to do that in order to be healthy,” she said.

A parent at Starbucks on River Road said she approved of how the schools were handling the coronavirus situation through communications from teachers and the superintendent. “They aren’t encouraging mass hysteria, and that’s good,” she said.

Another Starbucks customer said she wasn’t changing her life because of the virus threat. “I’m still going to public places and into New York City for a show. I don’t see any reason to close things down,” she said.

Although she believes the virus is going to spread, she is not concerned about herself. “I don’t have issues, but I do worry for other people,” she said.

Barbara Nelson, who was walking her puppy while waiting for a training class at the Comstock Community Center, said she was more concerned about her mother who is living in an out-of-town nursing facility. “They are not taking visitors at this time as a safety precaution because the elderly are more at risk,” she said.

Blown out of proportion

Stop & Shop customer Miriam Thune believes coronavirus has been “blown out of proportion and gotten out of control.”

“The media never should have started hyping it up at the beginning. It’s no more serious than the regular flu, which kills more or as many people,” she said.

“It is more dangerous than the regular flu, though,” interjected her husband, Arnt Lund.

“Yes, but it’s been blown way out of proportion. People are getting a little more anxious and apprehensive,” she said.

She recommended people heed cleanliness routines and see their doctor if they are sick.

Lund said while Wall Street took a hit yesterday, companies making sanitizing products were seeing a huge spike on the stock market.

At Wilton Town Hall, Kathy Cooper, assistant town clerk, said staff is following preocedures recommended by the town’s health director.

They are sanitizing their work areas, and heeding social distancing recommendations depicted on posters around the building, keeping their distance from the public as they transact business with them.