MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (WTNH) — Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim received the alert while he was doing an interview with News8 at one of four sites the city set up for parents of students in public schools to pick up free meals to help them while schools are out.
The alert said a Middletown resident — a man in his 50s — tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first positive case in Middletown.
“This is an individual who got tested, it came back positive,” said Mayor Ben Florsheim. “From everything I understand he is doing fairly well, middle-aged gentleman here in town — doesn’t have major symptoms but it goes to show a lot of the time people are not going to present with major symptoms and can still be contagious.”
The news started spreading on Main Street downtown, which looked like a ghost town Saturday night with the bars and restaurants and shops all closed.
“That’s very disheartening,” said Laura Greene, a Middletown resident.
“It’s getting serious,” said 22 year-old Josh Tat, who was walking around wearing a surgical mask.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he said.
Mayor Florsheim is just 28 years old. He’s the youngest mayor in Connecticut who now has to grapple with something as large as the coronavirus crisis. News8 asking him if it’s a daunting task for a first-year mayor who’s so young.
“Listen — when you sign up for the job, when you apply for it,” he said. “You sign up to expect the unexpected.”
He tells his residents not to panic. He, along with many medical experts, expected the virus to spread and he said it’s unexpected to think their city would be immune to it. He implores everyone to continue to engage in social distancing and vigorous handwashing to help curb the spread of the virus. He also vows to use his voice on social media to keep his residents informed and to reach out to young people in his age group to take the coronavirus seriously.
“Whatever age you are and whatever health status you’re in, you are at risk of both contracting this disease and for spreading it,” he said.