Coronavirus Connecticut News - April 2020

CONNECTICUT (WABC) -- Eyewitness News coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in Connecticut during April 2020.

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APRIL 30, 2020

Re-opening strategy
May 20 openings include outdoor areas of restaurants and bars, outdoor museums and zoos, offices and retail outlets. Barber shops, hair salons and other personal care businesses were types of businesses specifically mentioned.

Places that are "tough to socially distance" will take longer. Lamont's plan relies on four levels - red, orange, yellow and green. The final level, green, may not be achieved for 10 months.

Teacher caring for newborn while family recovers from COVID-19
A Connecticut teacher is taking care of a newborn baby boy as his family recovers from COVID-19, according to Getty.

Luciana Lira, 42, who teaches English as a second language at Hart Magnet Elementary School in Stamford, became a temporary guardian for the newborn who was delivered prematurely by emergency C-section.

APRIL 29, 2020

Fairfield starting to re-open
Fairfield will begin reopening select areas on Friday. The town says people will be able to use open spaces for what it calls passive recreation. That will include golf courses and marinas. It will also include beaches, but only for activities like walking.

The town says it made the decision following a drop in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations over the past two weeks.

Chief Operating Officer at State of Connecticut Josh Geballe said that the state's mask supply is in pretty good shape but testing supplies are still constrained.

Unemployment benefits
Gov. Lamont said he will look at situations on a case by case basis for those who will return to work and wants workplaces to be safe upon doing so that workers are not in jeopardy.

"You know people are paying you for that employment and it gets pretty complicated, but I will try and work that out case by case because some situations may not be safe."

Small business expanding operations
Gov. Lamont said he is seeking feedback on what stores can open up safely while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

"Rather than essential non essential let's think about all those mainstream businesses that we think we can open up safely means you can wear the mask and have social distancing. So a lot of those, you know, retail stores on Main Street the toy store in Middletown, the shoe store makes some sense that we can do that in an appropriate way so I've sort of expressed an initial point of view to the task force and I'm going to hear their feedback, and so will you tomorrow."

Bridgeport pop-up testing site opens
A new pop-up rapid coronavirus testing site opened Wednesday in Connecticut. It's located at Southwest Community Health Center, 46 Albion Street in Bridgeport. It's free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., but patients must be symptomatic and/or have been exposed to a positive case. You can call 203-330-6000 for more information.

APRIL 28, 2020

Connecticut at peak
A model created by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Hartford HealthCare suggests Connecticut has reached the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Hartford HealthCare's chief clinical officer, Dr. Ajay Kumar, says he believes Connecticut is in the plateau period of that peak and hospitalizations will soon decline. Kumar says the number of people reported to be infected with the new coronavirus will continue to rise in Connecticut because testing is being ramped up.

Unemployment benefits
Connecticut's Department of Labor has begun issuing the first round of $600 weekly federal stimulus payments to filers receiving state unemployment benefits. The initial batch, totaling more than $89 million, was issued last weekend after the state agency successfully programmed its computer system, Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday. That's in addition to the nearly $51 million issued last weekend in state benefits.

Those who receive payments through direct deposit should expect to begin seeing federal money appear in their bank accounts by Tuesday. A website has been set up to monitor whether deposits were issued.

Inmate lawsuit
Another federal lawsuit has been filed on behalf of inmates who believe they have not been protected from the coronavirus.

This one names four inmates with underlying medical conditions at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury.

APRIL 27, 2020

Death toll increases, hospitalizations decrease
The death toll in Connecticut has increased by 74 and now stands at 1,998. Officials say hospitalizations have dropped, but remain at 1,758.

Nursing home inspections
A team of investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and members of the Connecticut National Guard are helping the state's Department of Public Health investigate the growing number of deaths in the state's nursing homes.

Municipalities seeking help
Connecticut's largest association of cities and towns announced Monday it is joining forces with a national coalition of state, county and local government groups to secure additional federal funding to help municipalities cover the financial fallout of the pandemic and an increased demand for services.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said it's also urging the governor to share a portion of the $1.38 billion the state received from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund, or CARES Act, with local governments.

APRIL 26, 2020

Cases rise
Nearly 700 more positive cases of COVID-19 were reported Sunday, bringing the state total to 25,269. The death toll is nearing 2,000 as another 62 deaths were reported.

CT colleges consider resuming fall in-person classes
Colleges and universities across Connecticut are looking at public health guidance and contingency plans as they consider resuming in-person classes scrapped amid the coronavirus pandemic.

APRIL 25, 2020

Lamont eyes more testing as cases and deaths continue to rise
"In the coming days and weeks, we will be significantly increasing the state's capacity to test our residents, specifically those first responders and essential employees who are on the front lines, because testing is a key component of re-opening our economy," Governor Lamont said in a statement Saturday.

"Data has shown that a significant number of people who are infected don't even show symptoms and are unaware that they are spreading this virus to other people," the statement continued. "This is why it is so important that we increase our testing, and working with the federal government and our state's health care system we will be adding more collection sites and increase access to those who need it."

State officials reported 661 more COVID-19 cases for a total of 24,582 with 1,862 deaths. More than 1800 patients are hospitalized.

Second Connecticut prison inmate dies of COVID-19
A second Connecticut prison inmate has died after contracting the new coronavirus. The 57-year-old inmate from the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield began showing symptoms on April 14 and was being put into a quarantine unit for testing when his condition worsened, the department said.

He was instead taken to Johnson Memorial Hospital, where he died Saturday morning, the department said. The first Connecticut inmate to die of COVID-19-related causes was an inmate in his 60s, who also had a pre-existing condition. He died on April 13.

Hartford to step up minority testing

The city of Hartford is moving to increase testing for the coronavirus, offer free transportation to testing appointments and launch a community education campaign to lessen the impact on black, Hispanic and low-income residents, who have been hit disproportionately hard in communities of color across the country.

About 820 city residents have tested positive for the virus and about 72 have died as of Friday, but Mayor Luke Bronin said the true scope of the local outbreak is unknown because of the lack of widespread testing.

APRIL 24, 2020

State aims for June to reopen
Connecticut could possibly begin a multi-step process of loosening restrictions on businesses and gatherings by June, according to the co-chairman of Gov. Ned Lamont's advisory committee.

Indra Nooyi, a former CEO of Pepsi, said the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group will present the Democratic governor a list of options and considerations for reopening the state, backed with modeling data, in time for a May 20 deadline. That's when Lamont's "stay-at-home" order suspending all in-person, nonessential functions is set to expire.

Special hospital visit in New Haven
In New Haven, Connecticut, some sick children got a special visit from some of their favorite characters and super heroes Thursday. The folks in the costumes were members of non-profit organizations that normally visit pediatric cancer patients in person.

Due to social distancing rules they gathered outside Yale New Haven Hospital instead. They brightened the youngsters' day by waving and greeting them from afar.

APRIL 23, 2020

Westport drone
Westport police have pulled out of a pilot program that would have used a drone to detect COVID-19 symptoms in people and monitor social distancing in town, after receiving criticism and hearing residents' concerns.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas said Thursday that town officials reconsidered and decided not to take part in the program by drone manufacturer Draganfly Inc., in collaboration with the University of South Australia. The program would have been the company's first in the U.S.

Face shields in prisons
The Connecticut Department of Correction says inmates at the Cheshire Correctional Institution this week began manufacturing face shields for staff in the prison system. Department spokeswoman Karen Martucci says about 200 shields have been made so far and will be sent first to staff at the Northern Correctional Institution, where inmates with COVID-19 have been transferred to be held in isolation.

The shields are in addition to the 50,000 cloth masks inmates have made. Martucci says those have been sent to every prison in the state for use by staff and inmates. She says inmates in prison dorms, where social isolation is a challenge, are required to wear those masks.

COVID-19 cases surge past 23,000, deaths top 1600
Connecticut's governor says the state's coronavirus death toll has risen by 95 to 1,639. Connecticut is also reporting 631 more positive cases of COVID-19 for a total of 23,100.
High school sports delayed until June at earliest
The organization that oversees high school sports in Connecticut says spring sports could be played if schools reopen, but would only take place in the month of June. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference also decided Thursday to cancel all spring state championship tournaments.

The CIAC says athletes will be required to have at least 10 days of practice or conditioning before any competition resumes, but says five of those conditioning days may occur at home.

More than $230 million in unemployment issued
Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said Thursday his office has now processed more than 80% of the unemployment claims filed since March 13, cutting checks worth more than $230 million since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The state agency had received 402,000 applications, some of which were duplicates. That represents more than two years of normal claim activity. As of Thursday, Westby said 327,000 had been processed. "Just two months ago, we were processing about 3,000 claims a week," he said. "That was the norm."

APRIL 22, 2020

Death toll increases
The death toll has climbed 121 from Tuesday and is now at 1,544. There are nearly 23,000 cases in the state. Gov. Lamont said Fairfield is the county where you are least likely to social distance and New Haven county is the county where you are most likely to wear a mask.

Testing help needed
The state of Connecticut is seeking organizations that want to help with efforts to significantly scale up daily coronavirus testing.

Lamont's administration, which issued a request for proposal s on Tuesday, is seeking proposals from organizations that will support efforts to collect samples, especially in urban and under-served communities. The state is also accepting proposals from certified laboratories.

Thousands of N-95 masks a day to be cleansed
Thousands of contaminated N-95 respirator masks used by health care workers and first responders have begun being cleaned in Connecticut. That is expected to greatly increase availability of the protective gear.

Drug addiction concerns
Experts are expressing concern over the effects the pandemic is having on those needing drug addiction and other behavioral health services. Dr. J. Craig Allen, the medical director at Hartford HealthCare's Rushford treatment center, said isolation and anxiety can wreak havoc on those with substance abuse issues in the best of times. He said there has been a decline in those seeking help at the same time there has been a rise in sales of things such as alcohol, vaping products and cigarettes.

Lawmakers want wage increase for health care workers, search for PPE
Health care companies say back alley bidding wars are going on for PPE, as lawmakers begin to push for a wage increase of $13 more an hour for health care workes.

APRIL 21, 2020

Pandemic drone launches in Westport
Amid the coronavirus outbreak, people could soon be monitoring health activity from up above. New technology is launching that uses pandemic drones to help monitor everything from social distancing to heart rates.

7 On Your Side Investigators first told you about the technology last week, but now, a local community is launching it in the town of Westport, Connecticut, as part of a pilot program.

Prisoners' lawsuit
The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of state prison inmates who say they aren't being protected from the coronavirus.

The lawsuit, which is similar to one filed earlier in state court, asks a judge to order the governor and Correction Department commissioner to release medically vulnerable inmates, and to create a plan to protect those who remain incarcerated and release more prisoners if socially distancing remains impossible.

More than 290 inmates and about 200 prison staff had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Monday. One inmate has died.

No legislative session
Democratic and Republican legislative leaders announced the regular 2020 legislative session will not reconvene before the May 6 constitutional adjournment deadline because of the pandemic. The leaders said they plan to convene a special session in the coming months.

"Our top priority is the health and safety of the public, and we are committed to continue working in unison to stem this health crisis and do everything possible to protect the Connecticut residents we all represent," the four top leaders said.

Food distribution
For the second day in a row, a regional food bank that was giving away food to families in need saw long lines at a distribution site set up at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

Dom Piccini, logistics manager for the Foodshare, said Tuesday they had 12 volunteers and two employees handing out food. They're expecting 24 volunteers on Wednesday. He said workers are trying to speed up the process so people don't have to wait two or three hours to get food.

National Guard setting up COVID-19 recovery center at CCSU
The Connecticut National Guard began setting up nearly 200 beds for recovering COVID-19 patients Tuesday at Central Connecticut State University as coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Hartford County increase.

The care center at Kaiser Hall is part of efforts around the state to increase bed capacity for recovering patients. It will be used to free up beds at hospitals for patients with advanced cases of COVID-19, said Dr. Mark Prete, president of the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group.

APRIL 20, 2020

Westport holiday events canceled
First Selectman Jim Marpe announced that the annual Memorial Day Parade and July 4 Fireworks in Westport have been canceled.

Reduced hospitalizations
Two consecutive days of reductions in the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Connecticut are a promising sign in the state's fight against the outbreak, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday. But Lamont, a Democrat, said people will need to keep up social distancing and noted infections are still accelerating in the Hartford area.

Workers' compensation
Labor leaders, state legislators and workers on Monday urged Lamont to sign an executive order that automatically presumes an infected worker contracted COVID-19 on the job, making them eligible for workers' compensation benefits quickly and preventing the employee from having to go through a protracted appeals process.

Face mask order
People in Connecticut will be required to wear a face-covering or mask when in public starting Monday at 8 p.m. Under Governor Ned Lamont's order, people must use a mask or cloth face covering when using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service or means of mass public transit, or while within any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area.

APRIL 19, 2020

Goodwill in honor of Orthodox Easter
"Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Academy" from Wilton, Connecticut, teamed up with Letizia Restaurant in Norwalk to package up individual servings of baked ziti dinners.

Then they delivered them to heath care workers at Norwalk Hospital.

Hospitalizations decline
For the second straight day, the number of people hospitalized in Connecticut due to complications caused by COVID-19 has slightly decreased, but the death toll continues to rise.

Multi-state council appointees announced
Area governors Sunday announced their appointees to the multi-state council's efforts in restoring the economy and getting people back to work amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nursing home help
Governor Ned Lamont announced Sunday he is directing his administration to boost Medicaid payments for all of the state's 215 nursing homes by an additional five percent above the recently announced ten percent increase. Together, the 15 percent across-the-board financial relief will provide an additional $65 million in Medicaid payment increases to the state's nursing homes.
Rapid testing begins
Governor Ned Lamont opened the first rapid testing site in New Haven on Saturday at the former Gateway Community College campus. The site has a capacity of up to 1,000 people a day. First responders will get priority.

APRIL 18, 2020

Face mask order goes into effect Tuesday
Governor Ned Lamont has signed an executive order requiring people to wear masks covering their nose and mouth in public places when close contact is unavoidable and they're unable to maintain a safe social distance of six feet. The order, which takes effect at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, also requires people to wear a mask or face covering when using a taxi, ride-hailing service, or mass transit.

Primary election to be postponed again
The governor plans to sign an executive order that will push back the date of the state's presidential primary for a second time. The election, which was originally scheduled for April 28, will now be held on Aug. 11 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor's office said. The governor had previously moved the date to June 2. The move sets the presidential primary for the same date as primary elections scheduled in Connecticut for federal, state, and local offices.

APRIL 17, 2020

Many Connecticut nursing homes have had over 10 virus deaths
The coronavirus outbreak has killed 10 or more residents in eight nursing homes across Connecticut, according to state figures released on Thursday. Nursing home residents account for 375 of the 971 people in Connecticut to die from the virus, which has spread quickly through nursing homes around the country.

Two Connecticut nursing homes have had 15 deaths - the Gardner Heights Health Care Center in Shelton and the Abbott Terrace Health Center in Waterbury, according to state officials.

Connecticut opens first rapid COVID-19 test center
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced Friday that free, rapid COVID-19 tests are now becoming available to eligible Connecticut residents.

A partnership with CVS Health made possible Friday's opening of the state's first rapid testing site at the former Gateway Community College campus at Long Wharf in New Haven. Using the new Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test, CVS Health will conduct up to 750 tests per day, seven days a week. All patients seeking to be tested will be required to pre-register in advance online.

APRIL 16, 2020

Military medical crews begin caring for coronavirus patients
Soldiers with the Connecticut National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve have begun caring for COVID-19 patients at Stamford Hospital as part of a military effort to support medical staff across the country during the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Thursday.

The soldiers are working in a recently reopened building on the campus of the 305-bed hospital, said Capt. David Pytlik, a spokesman for the Connecticut National Guard. The medical crews include 85 Army reservists and nine state guardsmen, he said.

New unemployment numbers
Newly released unemployment data for Connecticut show the state lost 7,600 jobs in March, statistics state labor officials noted do not reflect the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state's jobless picture. The data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Thursday, stem from the second week of March.

Tests for first responders
The city of Stamford plans to begin testing all police officers and firefighters for the coronavirus on Thursday, Mayor David Martin said.

Plans call for the city's nearly 600 first responders to be tested, he said.

Field hospital opens
Bridgeport Hospital has begun moving COVID-19 patients into a 32-bed mobile field hospital and it is nearing capacity, a hospital spokesman said Thursday.

The tent is being used to treat patients with less acute cases, but it is equipped with ventilators if needed, spokesman John Cappiello said.

APRIL 15, 2020

Lamont to order to grocery, retail workers to wear masks
Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday he plans to require grocery and other retail workers who interact with the public to wear face masks. He encouraged citizens to wear them as well, noting the number of deaths and hospitalizations associated with COVID-19 in Connecticut continues to grow.

Supplemental federal emergency request
Governor Ned Lamont announced Wednesday he has submitted a supplementary request seeking 100% federal reimbursement for the state's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting "the human and fiscal costs to Connecticut are staggering." Under the state's current disaster declaration, recently approved by President Donald Trump, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse 75% of eligible COVID-19 expenses for the state and local governments, eligible nonprofits and tribal nations.
State seeks dismissal of prisoners' COVID-19 lawsuit
Connecticut's attorney general's office on Wednesday asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by prisoners who say they are not being adequately protected from the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit, which was filed on April 3, seeks an emergency order that could force the state to release prisoners deemed to be most at risk of contracting the coronavirus or require changes in how they are incarcerated.

Dan Barrett, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, argued that the state has not done enough to keep the prisons clean, keep inmates at an appropriate social distance and provide them with adequate medical care.

APRIL 14, 2020

State won't reopen before May 20, Lamont says
Connecticut has taken the first steps toward planning its reopening once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, but Gov. Ned Lamont says it won't be before May 20.

"I told the people of Connecticut on May 20 we'll make a decision about how and when we really can start opening things up," he told CNN. "I think it is going to take another month of being careful and doing the testing before we can get more aggressive than that."

Drones monitoring public
Meriden police have begun using drones to monitor social distancing at city parks and hiking trails.

Officials said officers will not be taking enforcement actions, but rather encouraging people to follow the governor's orders for social distancing, including a ban on social and recreational gatherings of more than five people.

Shield making
A manufacturer of medical components has set up an assembly line inside New Britain High School to make face shields for medical workers.

OKAY Industries worked on the design with Hartford Healthcare. It says volunteers are expected to make about 3,000 shields a day and will send the first 14,000 to Hartford Healthcare facilities, the Hospital for Special Care and first responders in New Britain.

Pause on new hospital beds
The state has hit the pause button on setting up new hospital beds to care for any overflow patients during the expected upcoming surge in COVID-19 patients.

More than 1,800 extra beds are in place at sites such as UConn Health, the Connecticut Convention Center and Western Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State universities.

Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont's chief operating officer, said Tuesday the state is cautiously optimistic it will need fewer than the 12,000 beds originally projected for coronavirus patients during the surge, which is expected to hit later this month.

Rest stop worries
Unionized workers at two McDonald's restaurants at rest stops on Interstate 95 in Connecticut say working conditions there have put them at risk of contracting the virus.

Members of the Service Employees International Union accuse the fast-food chain of failing to properly clean the stores in Milford and Darien after workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

Bridgeport expects coronavirus cases to plateau
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said Tuesday that he expects coronavirus cases in the state's largest city to begin plateauing next week, after nearly two weeks of steady increases.

From Friday to Monday, the city of nearly 150,000 people saw COVID-19 cases increase about 40% to 786 and deaths more than double to 23. The city now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the state after Stamford, which is approaching 1,500 cases. Bridgeport had fewer than 100 cases at the beginning of the month.

CT plans for reopening
Connecticut has taken the first steps toward planning its reopening once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, but Gov. Ned Lamont says it won't be before May 20.

"I told the people of Connecticut on May 20 we'll make a decision about how and when we really can start opening things up," he told CNN. "I think it is going to take another month of being careful and doing the testing before we can get more aggressive than that."

APRIL 13, 2020

Disinfecting masks
Lamont said Connecticut will be among the first states in the nation to use a new disinfecting technology that would allow health care workers to reuse respirator masks.

An Ohio company, Battelle, has said its machine can clean 80,000 of the N95 masks per day and make them safe for re-use up to 20 times.

Prison death
The Department of Correction has reported the first death of a prisoner who had contracted COVID-19. The male inmate in his 60s died Monday, less than a week after being diagnosed with COVID-19, department officials said.
They said the man, who had other health problems, had been undergoing treatment at UConn Health since April 8 and tested positive on April 9.

Rally for prisoner rights
A group of prisoner-rights activists rallied outside the York prison for women in Niantic on Monday to call on the state to do more to protect inmates from COVID-19.

The Department of Correction has reported that 61 inmates and 71 prison staff members across the state have tested positive for the coronavirus.
6 states announce COVID-19 collaboration
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday a multi-state workgroup with the purpose of jointly confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration includes New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island.

CT National Guard called in
The Connecticut National Guard has been sent to UConn Health in Farmington to set up 136 new beds for COVID-19 patients in anticipation of an upcoming surge in coronavirus cases. Those beds will be added to 82 surge capacity beds in the University Tower of John Dempsey Hospital.

The National Guard is also providing equipment for another 107 beds should they be needed.

APRIL 12, 2020

The death toll from COVID-19 in Connecticut has increased to 554, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Sunday.
The governor announced the total number of positive cases in the state stands at 12,035 and of those, 1,654 patients have been hospitalized.
APRIL 11, 2020

Coronavirus recovery centers to be established in nursing homes throughout state

Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order implementing the medical surge plan for long-term care facilities he announced on Wednesday, which will establish COVID-19 recovery centers in certain nursing homes throughout the state.

APRIL 10, 2020

Social distancing measures extended to May 20
Paul Mounds, Lamont's chief of staff, said Friday the latest extension will also apply to other establishments that have been closed, including private clubs, off-track betting facilities, gyms, sports, fitness and recreational facilities, large shopping malls, and places of public amusement.

Evictions on hold
Lamont's anticipated order will also prevent Connecticut landlords from issuing delinquent tenants a notice to vacate or an eviction notice before July 1, except in cases of serious nuisance. It will also provide renters with an automatic 30-day grace period for April rents. For rents due for May, tenants may request from their landlord another 60-day grace period.

APRIL 9, 2020

Funeral rules
Funeral homes across the state have created new rules for services to protect mourners from contracting COVID-19. People who choose to hold small funerals are limited to immediate family, attendees must wear masks and gloves and stand six feet apart.
Funeral homes are also leaning on technology to share services.

Cases jump
Positive cases of COVID-19 in the state jumped by more than 1,000 on Thursday. There are now nearly 9,800 positive cases and 380 deaths. Nearly 1,500 patients have been hospitalized.

Schools closed until at least May 20
Public schools across Connecticut likely will be required to stay closed until at least May 20 to fight the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday. Schools currently are under orders to stay shuttered until April 20, but Lamont has suggested previously that students might not return until the fall.

APRIL 8, 2020
2 nursing homes for coronavirus patients
Two nursing homes in Connecticut are going to be converted to care for coronavirus patients only. Non-coronavirus patients would then reside in other nursing homes.

Anyone currently hospitalized and looking to go to a non-coronavirus nursing home would have to provide two negative tests.
Two CVS locations agree to have rapid testing
Gov. Lamont said he spoke to the drug store company CVS, and they have committed to setting up two Abbott Lab 15-minute tests in Stamford and New Haven in a week or ten days.

No symptoms but diagnosed with coronavirus
Christine Keegan of Norwalk checked her temperature and had a 100.5 fever. She called her doctor and was told she had a symptom of COVID-19. She's been quarantined ever since.

APRIL 7, 2020

Workplace rules
Lamont has signed his 23rd executive order which details protections that should be in place for essential workers, many of which are already being followed by employers. The list of workplace rules includes things like having employees work from home when possible; controlling access to external visitors and customers; using hand sanitizer at point of entry; developing and maintaining social distancing practices; providing masks when close personal contact is unavoidable; moving from one or two shifts to three shifts; and frequently cleaning of all touch points.

Help for Stamford Hospital
Approximately 85 soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve's Urban Augmentation Medical Task Force on Tuesday began arriving to provide additional medical staff to Stamford Hospital, including clinical and administrative workers and experts in operational medicine, infectious disease, preventive medicine, nursing, respiratory therapy, clinical psychology, occupational therapy, dietetics, pharmacy, and other areas.

Domestic violence calls
A special police unit in Hartford will handle a surge in domestic violence calls believed to be linked to social isolation measures imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Two officers during the day and two at night will respond only to domestic violence calls and will give victims information on services including safe houses and counseling, Mayor Luke Bronin said. The city is working with Interval House, a nonprofit group.

Bronin said there was a 20% increase in domestic violence calls to police over the past week, but officials worry many cases are not being reported.
APRIL 6, 2020

Bridge lights
The lights on the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven will be illuminated in red to honor the thousands of health care workers caring for COVID-19 patients across the state, Gov. Lamont announced Monday.

The bridge carries Interstate 95 over the Quinnipiac River and the special lighting will remain in effect while COVID-19 cases are still at significant levels, he said.

Banking fees
Connecticut legislators want the state's banking industry to suspend minimum or low balance fees, as well as look into reducing other fees, to help residents who've been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Calls for prisoner release
Relatives and advocates on Monday called on Gov. Lamont to release some prison inmates who have health conditions or whose sentences are close to ending to prevent spreading the coronavirus.

Protesters lined dozens of cars in front of the governor's Executive Residence in Hartford and honked their horns.

Gathering fines
Starting Monday, police in Fairfield will fine people who gather at closed recreational spaces. Up until this point, police gave warnings to violators, but now violators could get hit with a $92 fine for trespassing.

Medical Supplies Needed
Lamont said he spoke on Sunday with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and repeated his plea that Connecticut be considered part of a hot spot region that includes New York for the purpose of federal government allocation of medical supplies and equipment. Lamont and other officials have estimated that Connecticut will need roughly 12,000 hospital beds and 4,000 ventilators at the peak of the outbreak. They recently said the state has about 7,000 beds and 1,000 ventilators. Lamont said the state has received 50 ventilators from the federal stockpile, far short of the 1,500 it has requested.

APRIL 5, 2020

More cases
More than 5,600 Connecticut residents have tested positive for coronavirus and 189 have died, Gov. Ned Lamont said Sunday afternoon. More than 23,000 coronavirus tests have been done by state and private laboratories. About 1,142 people have been hospitalized.
Inmate unrest
More than 100 inmates have been transferred after coronavirus-related unrest at the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution, state corrections officials said.

Some inmates were removed from housing units after they threatened to organize hunger strikes and work stoppages to protest the facility's rules aimed at avoid the spread of the new coronavirus, officials said.

Lamont signs executive order
Gov. Ned Lamont signed another executive order that will protect health care professionals and health care facilities from lawsuits or acts of omission undertaken in good faith.

It will also protect those who are uninsured and those who are insured and treated by an out-of-network health care provider from surprise bills and other significant costs.
Prison workers' concerns
Unions representing more than 6,000 employees in the state's prison system are demanding an immediate increase in protective equipment as well as stronger safety protocols to protect staff, inmates and the public during the coronavirus outbreak.

Volunteers needed
Lamont and nonprofit organizations are urging members of the public to volunteer in the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak. The governor said the state has launched a campaign seeking volunteers for a variety of services including food banks and deliveries to the elderly and homeless shelters. Volunteers must be 18 or older and must not have COVID-19 symptoms or live with or care for anyone who has symptoms or a compromised immune system. Information on how to register for volunteering is available on the state's coronavirus webpage.

APRIL 4, 2020

Lamont: CT is part of 'hot zone'
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says his biggest concern is that the federal government is not viewing southern Connecticut as part of the New York-area coronavirus hot zone, and that's translating to less support with ventilators, a deadly shortfall. Lamont said he requested 1,500 ventilators "months ago," and that Connecticut has received only 50. He said "he looked the president in the eye" during a teleconference of governors and insisted that the Trump administration needs to view Connecticut as part of a regional crisis. To cope with the ventilator shortfall, he said the state is working as one system, with northern Connecticut poised to help the hard-hit southern areas, "in terms of beds and people and ventilators and such. But that will only last so long."

States bidding against each other
Lamont, in comments Friday, said states are bidding against each other for equipment, including neighboring New York and New Jersey, and that he embraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's view that a federal buying consortium should step in to handle the process.

APRIL 3, 2020

Lamont nursing home plan draws criticism
A plan to designate certain nursing homes in Connecticut for only residents diagnosed with COVID-19 has drawn sharp criticism from least one nursing home CEO and family members who said the order took some facilities by surprise, creating an "uproar."

In a letter sent to residents' families and staff at Manchester Manor and Vernon Manor and Arbors of Hop Brook in Manchester, CEO Paul Liistro said Gov. Ned Lamont released the details of a plan that was being worked out with the industry, including the affected facilities, before the facilities could properly notify residents, family members and staff.

APRIL 2, 2020

Hotels and short-term rentals for essential workers only
Gov. Lamont said beginning Friday, all hotels and short-term rental units across Connecticut will be reserved for essential workers only. The move comes as the state deals with an unprecedented spike in unemployment claims.

Prisoner employees affected
The state Department of Correction said 16 staff members at prisons across the state have tested positive for COVID-19, a sharp increase from the three positive tests among staff reported earlier this week. The department puts the number of infected inmates at eight, including five at the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield and three at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville. Both prisons have been locked down.

The infected staff members include three who worked at the Hartford Correctional Center and two each at the Cheshire Correctional Institution, MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield, New Haven Correctional Center, York Correctional Institution for women in Uncasville and the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution in Enfield. The department reports single infections among staff at Corrigan-Radgowski, the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown and the the Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers.

Nursing Homes
The Lamont administration plans to move some residents living in Connecticut's long-term care facilities to create dedicated spaces for those who have tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Under his latest executive order, anyone diagnosed positive in a hospital and later admitted to a nursing home will be monitored and assessed for 14 days in a segregated area with other residents who tested positive.

Unemployment claims
Gov. Ned Lamont says Connecticut is overwhelmed by the number of unemployment claims stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

State Department of Labor officials said Thursday that the agency has received over 200,000 unemployment claims in just over two weeks, a number it usually receives during a full year.

APRIL 1, 2020
Infant dies of coronavirus
A 7-week-old baby who died at a hospital in the Hartford area had the coronavirus, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday. The cause of death is unknown.
Stricter measures to ensure social distancing
There will be stricter rules at Connecticut's parks to maintain social distancing. Gov. Ned Lamont signed an order to prohibit walk-in visitors and limit parking capacity. It comes after some state parks have been crowded with visitors eager to enjoy the outdoors. Lamont also says supermarkets and grocery stores will be limited to 50% of building capacity.

National Guard cases
Two members of the Connecticut National Guard are among the latest state residents to test positive for COVID-19. An airman assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing in East Granby tested positive March 27, and a soldier assigned to Joint Force Headquarters who works in Middletown tested positive the next day, National Guard officials said. The airman, between 20 and 30 years old, is hospitalized and has not been at the Bradley Air National Guard base since March 8, officials said. He trains one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. The soldier, a woman between 40 and 50 years old, is recovering at home, officials said.

Courthouse closure
State judicial officials have closed Stamford Superior Court to the public until further notice after some employees were exposed to a co-worker who had symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. Cases at the Stamford courthouse will be transferred to Bridgeport. Judicial officials have closed courthouses across the state in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Eight courthouses remain open for limited purposes, as well as juvenile courts in Hartford and Bridgeport.

Juvenile inmates
Juvenile justice advocates are calling on the state to release most inmates who are under 18 from Connecticut jails and prisons during the pandemic. There are currently 102 children incarcerated by either the Department of Correction or the state Judicial Branch, most of them in pretrial detention, according to officials with the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance.

MORE: Coverage from March 2020


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