040720 WES WH Yacht club reflection 6107.JPG

The Watch Hill Yacht Club and boat slips are reflected in the still waters of the bay on Monday, April 6, 2020. Harold Hanka, The Westerly Sun

WESTERLY — A recent letter to the members of the Watch Hill Yacht Club was intended to serve as a reminder of how to avoid contracting and slowing the spread of COVID-19, the club's commodore, who wrote the letter said.

"I was just reviewing, as we have on many occasions throughout this crisis, best practices and guidelines for remaining safe," said Dennis Algiere, the club's commodore and author of the June 25 letter, during a recent interview. The club members elect officers, including the commodore position.

The letter, which was provided to The Sun by a source who was promised anonymity, reads, "There have been a number of private gatherings in the last few weeks at which members wore masks and practiced social distancing as well as other methods for being as safe as possible from the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately other gatherings have led to some attendees testing positive for the COVID-19 virus."

The letter goes on to ask those who have been exposed to the virus to stay away from the club.

"If you, or any family member have tested positive for the virus, or anyone who has experienced symptoms of the virus within the last 14 days, you cannot visit the Watch Hill Yacht Club."

During the interview, Algiere said he had was told "through third-party hearsay" that some people who attended recent gatherings "may have tested positive or showed symptoms" of COVID-19. "Out of an abundance of caution I wrote to our membership to remind them of the guidelines," Algiere said.

The state Department of Health maintains a database of COVID-19 statistics, including a tally of cases by municipality. Town Manager J. Mark Rooney said only one new case of a Westerly resident testing positive had been reported within the last month. Rooney also said he was not aware of any problems related to the virus in Watch Hill.

Watch Hill Fire District Moderator Randy Abood said he learned recently of one new positive case in Watch Hill. Upon learning of the case, he said, he contacted Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey, who advised him to report the case to the state.

A spokesman for the state Department Health did not answer questions about the contents of Algiere's letter but made general comments about the virus.

"There have been cases confirmed in Westerly. We have rates posted online at the zip code level, but we tend to stay away from commenting on specific cases in specific neighborhoods for privacy reasons. We know that COVID-19 can spread readily when people gather in groups, especially when those groups are larger and people are not taking precautions like wearing masks and practicing social distancing," said Joseph Wendelken, the spokesman for the state Department of Health.

Statistics, which were last updated on Monday, on the state Department of Health website indicated a total of 58 positive cases in Westerly since Feb. 27 when the department's data collection reports started.

"If someone tests positive it is important that they isolate immediately, and that their contacts quarantine immediately. All positive cases are reported to RIDOH automatically, so we can provide instructions to people who are positive and their contacts on the steps to take to prevent transmission of COVID-19," Wendelken said.

Algiere, who serves as a state senator, asked the yacht club members to follow the guidelines.

"This is a difficult time for many of us. Thank you for your consideration for our members and staff," he wrote.

This article was edited at 11:17 a.m. on July 3, 2020 to correct Randy Abood's title.

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(1) comment


Is it true that a person from out of state who tests positive won't show up on Westerly statistics? Instead they are added to cases in their home state.

Many more people from the Yacht Club may have tested positive but wouldn't appear in Westerly statistics.

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