In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community, the first selectmen in both Stonington and North Stonington have issued a shelter-in-place order calling for all residents or visitors coming to the area from other locations to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days.

Stonington First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough and North Stonington First Selectman Michael Urgo each said the order, which was put in place Thursday morning, is a direct response to a growing number of travelers that have come to the community in the previous week. The towns are also bracing for the COVID-19 virus after two Stonington residents tested positive this week for the virus.

“The constant message from the (Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments) is that the southeastern coast has been filling rental homes and that people are coming to the area from New York and Fairfield County, areas that have recently been hot spots,” Chesebrough said. “This is a preemptive request to try and contain possible spread of the virus.”

For Stonington, the decision comes on the heels of several positive tests. Town officials said the health district confirmed Wednesday evening that a 59-year-old Stonington man has tested positive for the coronavirus. The health district reported Monday that a 72-year-old Stonington woman had been the first local resident to test positive.

There have not been any confirmed cases of the virus in North Stonington yet, but Urgo warned that it is only a matter of time. The message was clear in the conference call, Urgo said, and the order is urging residents to take precautions.

“We don’t know exactly what the future holds and there is a lot we can’t control,” Urgo said. “What we can control is this physical distancing.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont this week promoted a new “stay safe, stay at home” campaign to gain compliance, but there have been instances of crowds gathering and others not following proper social-distancing protocols. Town officials said there have only been a handful of instances of people not adhering to restrictions in Stonington or North Stonington, and in most cases it involved a group of teenagers who did not seem to understand the severity of the situation.

Chesebrough and Urgo said residents must each do their part to keep the community safe, and in some cases that might mean considering isolating for 14 days after traveling or when showing any symptoms. In such cases, those in self-quarantine are asked to avoid going to stores or public places where the virus could be spread.

Stonington will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and is continuing to work with the state and health district, as well as with surrounding communities, in order to isolate cases and prevent any rapid spread of the virus, Chesebrough said.

“The simple message is stay at home,” Chesebrough said. “Especially to those who come in from out-of-town. Stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days.”

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