By Nancy Rossi
Mayor of West Haven
Across the country, communities large and small face unique challenges in combating the COVID-19 pandemic; West Haven is no different. We are a densely populated small city with nearly 55,000 people within 10.2 square miles. We have a large university, a large VA hospital, and more than three miles of public beach with a popular boardwalk.
The West Haven community has responded to the pandemic and its impact in true Westie style, looking out for neighbors and supporting essential workers. I thank all residents for that, and for following the local, state, and national guidelines. As a result, we are starting to see a flattening of the curve and a reduced number of virus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Throughout this crisis, city officials have focused first and foremost on protecting the health and well-being of all residents. After consulting with public health experts, including our local health department, we closed our parks and boardwalk. Due to the pandemic’s impact on fundraising efforts and the health risk associated with large events, the volunteer committees that run our Memorial Day Parade and July 4th Fireworks made the difficult decision, with my full support, to cancel those events this year. We all want to keep our city running and our residents safe. As part of that effort, I have issued frequent updates and posted important protocols and reminders on social media and on our city website.
Though physically closed to the public, City Hall remains fully operational, with safety measures and social distancing of course. We have shifted to a four-day workweek, with longer hours Monday through Thursday, and city offices closed each Friday for deep cleaning. While regular updates are posted on the city website and social media, we understand that not all residents have internet access, and not all questions can be answered online. Residents are welcome to contact my office at (203) 937-3510.
West Haven’s teachers and educational administrators and staff have done an outstanding job of instituting distance learning using virtual classrooms. This was handled quickly and professionally, and our students are receiving a top-notch education in these very different times.
Our first responders and staff in our police and fire departments have been nothing less than outstanding. The University of New Haven and Yale University have answered our request for housing for our first responders. Our city employees have kept our city running and are delivering essential services, while many have volunteered to assist our most vulnerable and needy residents.
I want to thank our residents for the outpouring of support for our business community, especially our small businesses. And, I offer heartfelt thanks to our business and faith communities for stepping up to help care for our residents in need. I would also like to thank our Director of Health and our Emergency Management Director for their help and guidance through this pandemic.
Finally, I am assembling an Economic Recovery Advisory Commission. The commission will include representatives of the healthcare, business, economic development, education, public safety, and recreation communities. I will ask these volunteers to work with me in making recommendations as we move to open the city and ease restrictions, in the safest manner possible.