WALLINGFORD — Like every other aspect of life upended by the coronavirus, town government is adjusting to new rules and guidelines about personal interaction.
The town clerk’s office announced Thursday that all in-person transactions would be conducted by appointment only to keep down the number of people waiting in the hallway.
Since locking the door to the office in Town Hall earlier this week, the town clerk started a policy of letting in one person at a time.
That led to people congregating outside the door.
Town Clerk Barbara Thompson said Friday that her office has been accommodating title searchers, fishermen, attorneys, funeral homes and couples seeking marriage licenses.
“Almost everyone has been cooperative and pleasant so far,” she said via email. “A few have been not nice, but they have been the minority. I think most people are willing to work with you for the safety and well being of everyone.”
To set up an appointment, the town clerk’s office can be reached at 203-294-2145 or email@example.com.
The tax collector’s office also limited access. A sign on the door stated that only two people are allowed in the payment area at a time. Extra payment envelopes are available for use in the drop box.
New service windows also were installed this week in the town clerk, tax collector, town assessor and land use offices to add another physical barrier between visitors and town employees.
Several town meetings have been canceled that were scheduled for next week, including the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, Town Council Ordinance Committee and Quinnipiac River Linear Trail Committee.
The Town Council met earlier this week using a teleconference system that five out of the nine members utilized. Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni and Councilors Chris Shortell, Joe Marrone and Jason Zandri attended in person at Town Hall council chambers.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. attended in person. Town Corporation Counsel Janis M. Small initiated the call from where Thompson usually sits. She phoned into the meeting from home.
Cervoni said Friday that several councilors who phoned in “were not satisfied with the audio.”
“We are looking for a better solution,” he said.
Councilor Vincent Testa, who called in, said during the meeting that he had a difficult time hearing what was going on.
“The teleconferencing was woefully inadequate to accommodate a public meeting of a government body,” Testa said via email Friday. “I expected a functioning conference call, given the inability to conduct any type of video conferencing, but even that did not work well.”
He said he was unable to hear a presentation and answers to the councilors’ questions from Health Director Stephen Civitelli, and therefore “could not participate in a meaningful way.”
“This is a direct result of the lack of basic communication technology in Town Hall,” he said.
Mask purchase, first local cases
Civitelli announced Wednesday morning that two Wallingford residents have tested positive for COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus.
A social media post by state Rep. Mary Mushinsky said the residents were resting at home and had groceries delivered to them. She declined to comment further.
No information was made available about the residents’ age, gender, condition or testing site.
As of Friday, state-reported testing data showed 1,219 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut, with 173 patients hospitalized and 27 deaths.
On Tuesday, the Town Council approved the purchase of 30,000 N95 face masks from 3M through a bid waiver.
The order covers Wallingford and the towns of Guilford and East Haven, plus Masonicare, Gaylord and Skyview Center.
In Wallingford, the masks are slated to go to police, fire and EMS personnel, as well as office staff.
The purchase of the N95 masks totaled $25,010. The council also approved another bid waiver for $12,671 in order to replenish supplies of surgical face masks, gowns in several sizes, thermometers and face shields.
Deputy Fire Chief Joe Czentnar said FEMA may reimburse the town for 75 percent of the cost eventually.