Positive test for golfer at tournament led to quarantine for borough mayor


By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

NAUGATUCK — Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess spent most of this past week quarantining at home after playing in a golf tournament last weekend where a Naugatuck player tested positive for COVID-19.

How far-reaching the impact of the positive test was among the golfers was unclear Friday, but upward of 36 people were involved in the tournament, which took place in Waterbury and Naugatuck.

Hess said he was at Town Hall on Monday morning when he received a call that a player had tested positive for COVID-19 and then began to quarantine at home later that afternoon.

Hess said he took two tests for coronavirus and both came back negative. He said Friday he received confirmation from Naugatuck Valley Health District that he was cleared to return to work. He said he planned to return to Town Hall on Friday afternoon.

“I’ve been working 24/7,” Hess said. “I didn’t skip a beat, working on a computer from home. Whatever it takes. You actually get more done at home because you have less distraction.”

Waterbury Director of Emergency Management Adam Rinko said he didn’t have any details on the incident, which he described as a “minuscule event.” He said since the player who tested positive lives in Naugatuck, the case would fall under the Naugatuck Valley Health District’s jurisdiction.

Naugatuck Valley Health District Director of Health Jessica Stelmaszek did not return messages seeking comment Friday.

“We don’t have this as an event. There may have been exposure but it wasn’t enough,” Rinko said.

The Ryder Cup Golf Tournament, which is in its second year, involved 18 players from Hop Brook Golf Course in Naugatuck and 18 from Western Hills Golf Course in Waterbury. They played one round at each course over two days — Oct. 16 and Oct. 17. The tournament included an outdoor banquet on Oct. 17 at Jessie Camille’s Restaurant.

The player who tested positive was on the Naugatuck team, according to Hop Brook golf pro Bryan Nixon.

“As soon as we found about the positive case, we reached out to the other team’s captain to let them know about the result,” Nixon said. “That’s something you don’t want to hesitate. As soon we found out, we let everyone else know.”

Nixon also went into quarantine on Monday and received clearance Friday to resume normal activities.

Players did not wear masks while playing golf, but wore them and practiced social distancing at the banquet, Nixon said. Most of the golfers were tested and the results came back negative, he said.

Department of Public Health Director of Communications Av Harris referred questions to the Naugatuck Valley Health District.