Coronavirus Updates: Connecticut reports a year's worth of unemployment claims in 2 weeks

CONNECTICUT (WABC) -- 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.

Lamont reported 27 new deaths Thursday due to COVID-19, bringing the state's total to 112. There were 67 new hospitalizations, for a total of 827.

As of Thursday, nearly 3,800 Connecticut residents have tested positive for the virus.



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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.

MARCH 31, 2020

Mortgage grace period
The state has announced an agreement with unions and banks in Connecticut to offer a 90-day mortgage grace period for residents and businesses.

Lamont considering more ways to keep people at home
Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday he's considering narrowing the list of businesses considered essential to keep people home, predicting April will be a "horrible month" for coronavirus cases in Connecticut. Lamont said more needs to be done to persuade young people that social distancing is crucial to reducing the spread of the virus, noting the infection rate is expected to peak in Connecticut over the coming weeks.

Webster Bank Arena medical equipment
Medical equipment begins arriving at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.

A team of workers is converting the arena into a 128-bed facility to house patients showing mild coronavirus symptoms.

The temporary facility will be overseen by the state emergency operations center.

MARCH 30, 2020

Governor's Health System Response Team
Governor Ned Lamont announced details on the latest collaboration to assist in the state's coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is appointing the CEOs of three of the largest hospital systems in Connecticut - Hartford HealthCare, Nuvance Health, and Yale New Haven Health - to serve as co-chairs of the Governor's Health System Response Team.

Cases continue to rise
Coronavirus cases in Connecticut continue to rise each day. Since Sunday, an additional 578 Connecticut residents have tested positive, bringing the total to 2,571.

At least 517 people have been hospitalized and there have been 36 fatalities.

Arena conversion
Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport will be set up to house patients as hospitals in the region brace for an increase in the number of people with the coronavirus, the mayor said.

Medical equipment will arrive there by Tuesday, and it will hold 128 beds to accommodate the overflow from hospitals and take in ambulatory or mildly symptomatic patients, Mayor Joe Ganim said.

Prisoner tests positive
An inmate at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville has become the first prisoner in Connecticut to be diagnosed with COVID-19, the state Department of Correction announced Monday.

MARCH 29, 2020

Death toll increases
Officials announced there are now 1,993 positive cases of coronavirus in Connecticut, and 404 of those patients are in the hospital. The death toll has increased by one since Saturday, for a total of 34 deaths.

More ventilators needed
This morning Governor Lamont visited the headquarters of Bio-Med Devices in Guilford, where he toured the manufacturing facility and executed a purchase order for 100 ventilators that will be used in hospitals throughout Connecticut. Employees at the company have been working seven days a week to keep up with demand.

Declaration approved
Governor Ned Lamont announced that his request for a Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Connecticut had been approved by FEMA, unlocking additional federal assistance programs for the state.

That means impacted state agencies and municipalities in all eight counties will be reimbursed for 75 percent of the costs associated with their response and emergency protective measures.



MARCH 28, 2020

President Trump says federally enforced quarantine in NY, NJ, CT 'not necessary'
President Trump said in a Tweet Saturday night that a federally enforced quarantine in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is not necessary. Instead he asked the CDC to issue a strong Travel Advisory.



Latest update on toll in Connecticut
Lamont said there were 33 deaths so far in Connecticut, up six from Friday, with 32 new hospitalizations. Five of those new deaths happened in Fairfield County. There were a total of 1,524 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among state residents, with cases in every county.
Most of the deaths were in Fairfield County, with 20, followed by New Haven County, with 6; Tolland County, with 4; Hartford County, with 2; and Middlesex County, with 1.

MARCH 27, 2020

Prioritizing Tests
Governor Lamont said the state will rely on people self-diagnosing and self-quarantining for 14 days if they have any symptoms. He said because of the scarcity of personal protective equipment, the state is prioritizing the use of nurses for the treatment of those critically ill rather than testing. Lamont also urged New Yorkers and others from out of state to stay home and avoid traveling to Connecticut unless absolutely necessary. He ordered those who do come to the state to self-quarantine until they can be sure they are healthy.

MARCH 26, 2020

Death toll rises
Officials announced that the state currently has 1,012 cases and 21 people have died. There are 125 people hospitalized and more than 6,500 tests have been performed statewide.

Gov. Lamont makes disaster request

Governor Ned Lamont has submitted a request to FEMA for a presidential major disaster declaration resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the State of Connecticut.

The governor is requesting public assistance for all eight of the state's counties, including all four supplemental assistance programs under the Individual Assistance Program: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling program, Disaster Case Management, and Disaster Legal Services. Additionally, he is requesting Individuals and Households Program Other Needs Categories of Child Care Assistance and Funeral Assistance.

Track and Field star dies

Mary Roman, a world-class senior athlete who held numerous national age records in track and field, has died of complications from COVID-19, the mayor of Norwalk said. She was 83.

Roman, who also served for 20 years as Norwalk's city clerk, died Monday night at Norwalk Hospital, Mayor Harry Rilling said.

MARCH 25, 2020

Unemployment claims skyrocket
Connecticut received more than 72,000 unemployment claims in just one week, from March 13 to 20, officials said. In a more typical week there are 3,000 to 3,500 claims. The surge in filings is leading to longer-than-usual waits for payments.

Early fishing season
After state officials received numerous online requests from anxious anglers, Gov. Ned Lamont has opened fishing season early this year. Mike Beauchene, supervising fisheries biologist, said an early opening day will also help "flatten the curve" of people who normally come out in large numbers on opening day each year. Fishing season was originally set for April 11

Businesses adapt to new order
Connecticut businesses adapted to new social distancing guidelines Tuesday, and state lawmakers were planning to continue work on an assistance package for small companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak despite the postponement of the legislative session.

MARCH 24, 2020
Cases rising across the state
While more than 62% of the total cases are from Fairfield County, Lamont noted how the number of cases in New Haven County doubled since Monday, from 41 to 89. He said the rest of the state should prepare for "what will be coming." Lamont said he expects the numbers will continue to escalate for at least another week or two.

Non-essential businesses shut down
Small business owners were making adjustments Tuesday, the first full day under an order by Lamont that directs nonessential businesses to prohibit all in-person functions and urges people to stay home. Bicycles East in Glastonbury remained open because repair shops are considered essential businesses. But they are not letting customers into the store.

MARCH 23, 2020

More positive cases
By Monday afternoon, there were 415 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state with 10 deaths.

Actions to increase hospital capacity
Gov. Ned Lamont said the state is working to find more hospital beds and wants hospitals to reduce capacity by eliminating elective surgeries. He is also looking to free up 2,000 nursing home beds, have mobile field hospitals, and perhaps even use vacated college dorm rooms.

Connecticut joins other states shutting down non-essentials
Non-essential businesses across the state, including many retail stores, must shut down temporarily starting at 8 p.m.

Full list of essential and non-essential businesses in CT

MARCH 22, 2020

Cases still rising
Gov. Ned Lamont say 223 people in the state have been diagnosed with the virus, including 43 hospitalized for treatment. Five people have died.

MARCH 21, 2020

5th death in the state
A nursing home resident in his 80s is the fifth Connecticut resident to die from the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Saturday.

State shut down begins Monday
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed an executive order that calls on non-essential businesses across the state, including many retail stores, to shut down temporarily. The order requires all "non-essential" businesses, to the extent possible, to reduce their in-person workforces by 100% no later than Monday at 8 p.m.

MARCH 20, 2020

Testings and cases rise
Governor Ned Lamont says a 4th person has died from COVID-19, and 35 more people tested positive, bringing the running total to 194. He also reported testing is up to 1,000 specimens a day. There are now 16 drive-through testing sites in the state.

MARCH 19, 2020

Positive cases increase statewide
Connecticut reports 35 new cases of residents who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the state total up to 194 confirmed cases. The death toll has increased to four. These cases include the first to be reported out of Tolland and Windham counties.

Presidential primary delayed until June
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday he has decided to move the state's April 28 presidential primary to June 2 to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.



2nd death reported due to COVID-19
A 91-year-old New Canaan man who was hospitalized with the coronavirus has died, becoming Connecticut's second victim of the virus, a local official announced. New Canaan Councilman Steve Karl announced the death at a Town Council meeting Wednesday night, asking for a moment of silence as the meeting was about to adjourn. The man's death is the second in Connecticut from the coronavirus.

MARCH 18, 2020

First death from COVID-19

Governor Ned Lamont said the patient was a man in his 80s who was being treated at Danbury Hospital. He was a resident of an assisted living facility in Ridgefield.

"It is with sadness today that we are confirming the first death of a person in Connecticut due to severe complications from COVID-19," Lamont said. "I want to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals at the hospital who did everything in their power to save his life. I also want to acknowledge the dedicated professionals from hospitals and medical centers throughout our state who continue to work on the front lines and treat patients, in addition to all of the support staff who are providing critical assistance through this trying time."

Connecticut not yet cancelling spring sports season
The organization that oversees high school sports in Connecticut says it's not ready yet to pull the plug on the spring season due to the coronavirus. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says the decision to postpone, and not cancel, spring sports including baseball, softball and track was made Wednesday after a meeting of nearly 70 school, athletic and governmental leaders. All state schools have been ordered close through at least March 31. But CIAC Executive Director Glenn Lungarini says there is a strong desire to give student athletes some type of athletic experience once those schools reopen.

NY, NJ, CT and PA announce additional coordination to stop spread of COVID-19
Indoor portions of shopping malls, amusement parks and bowling alleys in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania must close by 8 p.m. Thursday, the states' four governors said.
MARCH 17, 2020

Community health centers facing staffing, supply shortages
Connecticut officials are trying to speed up the certification of new nurses and urging retired nurses to come back to work to help handle the state's anticipated spike in patients afflicted with the coronavirus.

"We need you. And we're gonna to you over the next two, three, five, six weeks," Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday. "So please reach out to your former hospital where you were. We need you to be able to step back."

While the state now has close to 70 diagnosed cases, State Epidemiologist Matthew Cartter warned many more are expected in the coming weeks.

200 health care workers in CT furloughed
About 200 employees of a health care system that includes seven hospitals in Connecticut and New York are staying home because they may have come into contact with the coronavirus, according to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont.

Connecticut's two casinos to close for first time ever
On Monday evening, Gov. Ned Lamont and the two federally recognized tribes that own and operate Connecticut's two casinos announced an historic move to close the facilities at 8 p.m. on Tuesday for two weeks. It will mark the first time either casino has ever closed. Foxwoods first opened in 1992 and Mohegan Sun opened in 1996.

"This is a humbling reflection on the ongoing public health crisis and it is the right decision," said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation which own Foxwoods. Both casinos, which have already begun temporarily shuttering parts of their operations, are located on sovereign tribal reservations and Lamont doesn't have the power to order them closed.

Community health centers facing staffing, supply shortages
Community health centers, which provide care to thousands of low-income Connecticut residents, need greater resources to help stem the spread of the coronavirus, the CEO of a Hartford-based center said Tuesday. Nichelle Mullins, president and CEO of Charter Oak Health Center, said her organization is facing staffing and supply shortages. "If we don't have (those things), we won't be able to operate," said Mullins.

She noted that workers at the 17 federally qualified health centers across Connecticut are on the "front lines" in their communities and can help divert patients from hospital emergency rooms. Mullins said Charter Oak Health Center has the ability to take specimens needed to test for the virus. The challenges faced by the community centers is one of a growing list of concerns facing health care workers.

MARCH 16, 2020

5 p.m.
An additional 15 Connecticut residents tested positive for the coronavirus were announced by Governor Ned Lamont Monday, bringing the total positive cases reported in the state to 41.

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Connecticut officials on Monday ordered movie theaters, gyms and other businesses closed until further notice, joining with New York and New Jersey in announcing restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Many businesses were ordered to close as of 8 p.m. Monday, and bars and restaurants were limited to offering only takeout. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also urged the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun to close. Essential businesses such as supermarkets and gas stations will be able to stay open.

"We are in this together," Lamont said during a conference call with the governors of New York and New Jersey. "This is changing so fast. We've got to work together on a coordinated basis."

Public gatherings of more than 50 people were restricted, in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lamont on Sunday ordered all public schools in the state to close beginning Tuesday.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

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TRIBAL CASINOS

Lamont acknowledged Monday there are "legal and jurisdictional issues" concerning whether the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes will agree to his call to close Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino in southeastern Connecticut. The tribes' casinos are on reservations that are considered sovereign nations.

"We are urging the tribes in the strongest possible way, they ought to be closing down those casinos," Lamont said.

In a written statement, the Mashantuckets said they've already taken steps to address COVID-19 and have been in ongoing contact with Lamont's office and "anticipate communicating more details" by the end of Monday.

"We have already closed down various facilities, suspended bus transportation, instituted aggressive and thorough sanitation and cleaning processes, and initiated social distancing. We consider our Team Members and guests as members of our extended family and their safety is paramount in our minds," the tribe said in a statement.

Messages were left seeking comment with representatives of the Mohegans as well.
Lamont also urged the state's off-track betting facilities to close. The operator of off-track betting sites in the state, Sportech, announced Sunday that the facilities will close at least until the end of the month beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, but said telephone betting and its online site will remain open.

On Saturday, business was slow at Mohegan Sun, where Chubby Checker was performing at the casino's Wolf Den venue - the last show before a string of recently announced cancellations takes effect. Many seats were empty at the concert. The number of people in restaurants and on the gambling floor was also spare.

Lamont said he is working with Cuomo on the casinos issue. New York also has tribal casinos.

"They've been good legal partners for us for quite some time. But there are legal and jurisdictional issues there," Lamont said of the tribes, with whom he's been unable to reach an agreement with on legalized sports betting. "I hope and think they'll be doing the right thing and we're going to come up with a unified voice."

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RESTAURANT OWNERS RESPOND

Restaurant owners said they already have been taking action in response to the coronavirus, including increasing cleaning.

"Local restaurant owners will continue to offer safe, clean service to customers via takeout, curbside pickup and delivery," said Scott Dolch, executive director of the Connecticut Restaurant Association.

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CONCERN FOR PRISONERS

A coalition of groups is demanding that Connecticut officials immediately release as many state prisoners as possible to protect them from the outbreak and place a moratorium on further incarceration.

The groups said they were publishing an open letter to Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday calling for urgent action to protect people in the state's prisons and jails, including employees.

They said state officials can release pretrial prisoners detained only because they can't afford to post bail, limit arrests to serious offenses and expedite parole for elderly prisoners and others who are at high risk of serious illness.

Messages seeking comment were left with the governor's office and state prison officials on Monday.

The organizations making the requests include the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, the Connecticut Bail Fund, the Global Health Justice Partnership, the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and Stop Solitary Connecticut. They said more than 20 other organizations and nearly 375 people had also signed the letter.

7 a.m.
Schools closed, state work to mitigate damage


Schools in Connecticut are closed for at least two weeks as state officials prepare to deal with the impact of the new coronavirus on residents and businesses, as well as the state's overall economy.

The owner of Connecticut Sportsplex, an indoor/outdoor recreation attraction in North Branford, Candelora said he's already planning for large-scale layoffs at his business because of the virus. He suggested lawmakers suspend the recent minimum wage increase to $11 an hour. Another increase to $12 an hour is scheduled for October. Numerous venues across the state have postponed events and various businesses, including restaurants, have already reported a downturn in customers.
"Frankly, the retail/entertainment industry was going to have a hard enough time implementing all these costs that the legislature put on us last session. And now you add in a pandemic and you're going to see massive failure," he said.
Joe Brennan, president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he's urging lawmakers to "do no harm" when they finally return to Hartford.

"There's a lot of things that they're still pushing that would make things worse instead of better," he said. "Anything that's going to make it more expensive, more burdens, more mandates for whatever - just no - don't go there."

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

As of Sunday evening, Gov. Ned Lamont said 26 people had tested positive for the virus in Connecticut.

MARCH 15, 2020

Connecticut legislators and Gov. Ned Lamont are considering additional ways to mitigate the impact of the new coronavirus on residents and businesses, as well as the state's overall economy.

With the General Assembly on a temporary pause because of the outbreak - a delay that will eat up valuable time in an already short, three-month legislative session - there's interest in prioritizing a legislative response to the outbreak as well as passing major bills such as the state budget.

Discussions among legislative leaders and the governor are planned this week as official legislative business has been postponed at the state Capitol until at least March 30. The session is scheduled to adjourn May 6.

"People need to stop worrying about their pet bills, their initiatives that they really care about, and start focusing on this big picture of long-term economic recovery," said Rep. Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, the deputy GOP leader in the House of Representatives who will be part of the closed-door discussions.

MARCH 14, 2020

5 p.m.
Nine additional Connecticut residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus


Nine additional Connecticut residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total number of positive cases in the state to 20.

A county-by-county breakdown of the positive cases includes 15 in Fairfield County, 3 in Litchfield County, 1 in Hartford County and 1 in New Haven County.

Governor Lamont signed his third executive order taking additional emergency actions that builds upon his efforts to encourage mitigation strategies that slow down transmission of the virus, including by promoting social distancing, and helping the healthcare industry obtain needed medical equipment and other supplies.
Governor Lamont's Executive Order No. 7B enacts the following provisions:

1. Suspension of in-person open meeting requirements: The order modifies statutes regarding state and local government meetings that are required to permit members of the public to attend in-person and authorizes those meetings to be held remotely by conference call or videoconference, provided that the public is provided remote access to view or listen to the meetings and access materials for the meetings.

2. Waiver of manufacturer registration requirement for hand sanitizer: To increase the availability of hand sanitizer, the order suspends certain statutes regarding manufacturer registration requirements and authorizes the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to allow pharmacists to compound and sell finished hand sanitizer products over the counter to customers. The Commissioner will be required to issue an implementing order prescribing the rules for the composition of the sanitizer.
3. Suspension of garbing requirements for non-hazardous compounding of sterile pharmaceuticals: In response to the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the order allows the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to waive the requirement for pharmacists to use certain PPE when working with non-hazardous, sterile compounds.

4. Refunds for certain liquor license application fees permissible: The order authorizes the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to cancel and refund the application fee for liquor permits to anyone who paid for such a permit but no longer needs it because the event for which the permit was required has been canceled due to the public health emergency.

5. DSS Temporary Family Assistance: The order authorizes the Commissioner of Social Services to waive requirements that applicants for Temporary Family Assistance attend an in-person interview and planning session before receiving benefits.

6. Provisions to ensure adequate childcare resources: To increase access to childcare for families in need throughout the pandemic, the order authorizes the Commissioner of Early Childhood to allow the operation of youth camps, and waive certain requirements for childcare facilities. As many school readiness programs are suspending operations due to the pandemic, the order also allows the Commissioner of Early Childhood to allow school readiness programs to operate for fewer than 50 weeks.

7. Provisions to ensure adequate healthcare resources and facilities: The order allows the Office of Healthcare Strategy to waive certain requirements regarding certificates of need and other healthcare related requirements so ensure that the increased demand for healthcare resources and facilities can be met during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 p.m.

The first case of the coronavirus in the Hartford area has been identified, bringing the total across Connecticut to 12, officials said.

The patient, a woman in her 80s, lives in Rocky Hill and is being treated at Hartford Hospital, city and hospital officials said Friday night.

Most of the other cases confirmed in the state so far have been in communities near the New York state line.

Efforts to test for the virus around the state are expanding, and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said he assumes there are other cases of the virus in the Hartford area.

The capacity at the state lab has doubled, and samples are now being sent out-of-state to private labs. Governor Ned Lamont said he expects various hospitals across the state will be able to soon conduct testing as well.

'Our choke point, as you know, has actually been able to test and evaluate," he said. "I'm very hopeful that in the very near future, in the next few days, a number of hospitals are going to be greenlighted to testing as well (by the federal government)."

Also, individuals with a doctor's order can now be tested for a number of respiratory viruses, potentially including COVID-19 at Bristol Hospital's new outdoor collection.

Bristol joins Waterbury Hospital and Greenwich Hospital in accepting specimens. Patients will not receive results at these locations.

School districts including Hartford, New Haven and Stamford have announced they will close for two weeks or longer in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease.
MARCH 13, 2020

Connecticut officials banned utilities Friday from shutting off services to customers and warned of heavy demand for absentee ballots in the state's upcoming presidential primary as hospitals braced for more patients with the coronavirus.

Gov. Ned Lamont also announced plans to expand testing for the virus around the state.

The utilities order applies to all electric, natural gas and water companies in the state. The Public Utility Regulatory Authority said it will be in effect during the public health and civil preparedness emergencies declared by Lamont.

"People need electricity, heat and water to stay home safely right now," State Attorney General William Tong said.

EXPANDED TESTING

Lamont, a Democrat, said Friday that the state's scope of testing for the new coronavirus is expanding.

The capacity at the state lab has doubled and samples are now being sent out-of-state to private labs, he said during a news conference at Americares headquarters in Stamford. Lamont said he expects various hospitals across the state will be able to soon conduct testing as well.

'Our choke point, as you know, has actually been able to test and evaluate," he said. "I'm very hopeful that in the very near future, in the next few days, a number of hospitals are going to be greenlighted to testing as well."

Further details were not released.

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CONNECTICUT PRIMARY
Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is warning cities and towns they should expect heavy demand for presidential primary absentee ballots, given the virus.
Her spokesman, Gabe Rosenberg, said Friday that the office is currently "reviewing the law to see what further guidance" about absentee ballots it can provide municipal election officials this week.

Registered Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut are scheduled to go to the polls on April 28. Absentee ballots will not be available until April 7 and cannot be ordered by the cities and towns until March 24, under a state law that determines when Merrill can set the ballot order.

Rosenberg said Merrill's office is setting up a working group of registrars and town clerks to make sure state and local election officials are on the same page when it comes to planning for the primary.

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SENATORS CALL FOR ACTION

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut, called Friday on Congress to approve additional aid to help families weather the outbreak, such as paid sick leave and increased unemployment benefits.

Speaking at a health center in Hartford, the two Democrats said the aid needs to be approved immediately and criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for sending the Senate home for the weekend.

"We should be in Congress right now passing an emergency bill to make sure that the families here in Hartford, who are going to have tot take time off work ... don't face economic ruin," Murphy said. "For many families here in Hartford and all across the state, if you miss one paycheck you are on the brink of financial ruin."

The senators also called on President Trump to declare a national emergency, which he did Friday afternoon. They said the declaration would help expand and speed up testing for COVID-19.

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MORE CANCELLATIONS AND CLOSURES
Newly added to the list of cancellations and closings around the state due to public health concerns are the popular Daffodil Festival in Meriden, which was scheduled for April 25 and 26, and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, which plans to close Saturday and reopen April 1.
The list also includes schools and colleges around the state that have closed, sports and entertainment events that have been canceled and tourist attractions that have shut down temporarily including the Mystic Seaport Museum and the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford.

MARCH 12, 2020

5:15pm
Nursing home visits limited but not restricted


Lamont's executive order eases an earlier, unpopular restriction on visits to nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Instead of no visitors, the order allows the state's public health commissioner to limit visits to "at least one family member, domestic partner or other person designated by the patient" each day; a patient's attorney or conservator; Probate Court officials; and anyone authorized by law to oversee or investigate care and services in facilities.

3:30pm
Connecticut bars gatherings of over 250 people amid virus

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed an order Thursday barring gatherings of 250 people or more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while personally recommending people avoid even smaller crowds.
The Democrat's order, which also waives the requirement that schools be in session for 180 days - giving districts flexibility with closures related to the virus - comes as additional people have tested positive in the state, including a child.

"This is highly infectious, COVID-19," Lamont said. "I think 250 will be our limit. I'm recommending stay out of any groups of 100 or more. I just think that's the safe way to go."

Lamont's order affecting large gatherings applies to social and recreational activities, including but not limited to concerts, movie screenings, performances, community events and recreational activities. The prohibition will remain in effect until April 30, unless modified by another order. Violators could face criminal penalties.
A total of six people in Connecticut have tested positive for the virus, state officials said, as more schools around Connecticut announced closures to try to slow the spread of the illness. As of Thursday afternoon, 19 districts had closed schools or are scheduled to close schools in the next day or two, according to the state's education commission.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, COVID-19 can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

State epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said Thursday he expects 10-20% of Connecticut residents could be infected in the next two months. If there's a second wave of infections in the fall, he said 70% percent of the state's population could be infected.

2:00 p.m.
Residents urged to get the flu shot


At a news conference earlier in the day, Lamont urged state residents to get a flu shot to stay healthy and help to ease the burden on hospitals that are bracing for patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

"We are worried about emergency rooms. They could be overrun," said Lamont, who spoke after touring Sanofi's Protein Sciences lab in Meriden that is conducting research for a possible vaccine for the virus.

12:00 p.m.
Researchers hope to develop COVID-19 vaccine


Officials at Sanofi's Protein Sciences said Thursday their scientists in Meriden have been working for the past several weeks on a possible COVID-19 vaccine they hope may be ready for clinical trials by the end of the year.

Dozens of research groups around the world are racing to create a vaccine as case numbers continue to grow. Some are at more advanced stages and could start first-step testing soon.

"We are at the beginning of the stages," said Mireli Fino, the site head in Meriden. "The first stages are going as fast we can. The rest of our group is waiting and they are preparing. we're all preparing to be ready for our next stage."
If all goes well, some initial manufacturing would be done in Meriden, as well.

While the various researchers at work on a vaccine are pursuing different types, Fino said information is being shared among them.

9:00 a.m.
Schools, universities continue to close


Central Connecticut State University announced Thursday that it would close its New Britain campus immediately because a student was potentially exposed to somebody being tested for the virus.
Several universities, including the University of Connecticut, announced previously that they are switching to online-only classes. School districts, including New Haven, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan and Wilton, also have announced they are closing until further notice.

MARCH 11, 2020

6 p.m.
More schools close

Officials announced New Canaan Public Schools, Wilton Public Schools and Weston Public Schools will all close starting Thursday.

3:30 p.m.
Ivy League cancels all spring sports


The Ivy League announced on Wednesday that it is canceling all spring athletics practice and competition through the remainder of the academic year amid further developments in the outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus.

The decision hits the lacrosse programs particularly hard, with four schools ranked in the Top 20 and three in the Top 5 (No. 2 Cornell, No. 3 Princeton, No. 5 Yale, No. 16 Penn).

3:00 p.m.
A third case of coronavirus was confirmed by health officials in Connecticut Wednesday afternoon.

SCHOOLS CLOSING

The number of schools closing or switching to online learning amid virus concerns continues to grow.

Westport public schools announced Wednesday they were closing until further notice. David Abbey, the interim superintendent of schools, said in a statement that the decision was made because "a number of parents" had come into contact with someone "presumed to be positive with coronavirus."

Lauralton Hall High School in Milford announced it will be closed for the rest of the week after a parent, who is a health care worker, reported being exposed to the virus and being symptomatic.

Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford said it would extend its spring break until March 24 and plans to conduct remote learning once students return.

Yale, Quinnipiac, Southern Connecticut and several other universities in the state had already announced plans to switch to online classes after the end of spring break.
EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS

Members of the Public Health Emergency Committee have the ability under state law to veto Lamont's emergency declarations, which give the governor the authority to suspend certain state laws and regulations to protect public health and safety. But both Democrats and Republicans said they agree with the steps Lamont has taken.

"I'm in support of the governor's approach," said Rep. William Petiit Jr., R-Plainville, a physician and the top House Republican on the General Assembly's Public Health Committee. "I think being overprepared is better than being under-prepared."

Lamont's declarations of both civil preparedness and public health emergencies will remain in effect until Sept. 9. If he decides to issue new declarations, the group will have another opportunity to veto them.

GAMES CALLED
The New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes Trinity, Wesleyan and Connecticut College, has canceled its spring sports season. The conference says the decision was made in part because many of its participating members have told students to return home and complete the semester remotely because of COVID-19.

Hartford Athletic, the city's profession soccer team, announced it will postpone its first two home games because of the health emergency in the state.
SPORTS PROTEST
Hundreds of protesters, many of them student-athletes, gathered at the offices of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to protest its decision to cancel all remaining high school winter sports championship tournaments because of virus concerns.

The crowd chanted "Let us play!" as Glenn Lungarini, the organization's executive director, tried to speak. He was escorted into the building by police.

An online petition asking the CIAC to reconsider Tuesday's decision had close to 90,000 signatures Wednesday morning.
MARCH 10, 2020

ONLINE COLLEGE CLASSES
The University of New Haven closed its residence halls Tuesday and suspended in-person classes leading up to spring break, as well as in-person classes on March 23 and 24. At Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, in-person classes will switch to online instruction beginning Wednesday. Residence and dining halls will remain open.
Yale University is asking students on campus to return home no later than March 15. Classes will be held online when spring recess ends and through April 5 at the earliest.

HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in Connecticut, cancelled the state's remaining high school winter sports championship tournaments. Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the CIAC, said some schools said they would not participate and some venues indicated they could not host the events.
"We certainly understand and appreciate the emotion that sports brings and do take into account that there are seniors that were looking forward to that last game, looking forward to making that run to the championship and to them they certainly get hit with the news now that they they're not going to have the ability to do that," he said.

CAPITOL CLEANING

While several legislative committees continued their work on Tuesday, a modified schedule is planned for the rest of the week and possibly beyond at Connecticut's state Capitol complex to help prevent any spread of the virus.

Activities will be limited on Wednesday to two, shortened public hearings and a planned vote by the House of Representatives and Senate on a borrowing bill. The state Capitol, Legislative Office Building and the Old State House will then be closed to for an extensive cleaning on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Lawmakers immediately closed the complex to any non-legislative events, meetings and gatherings. That's forced groups ranging from the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut to the National Kidney Foundation to cancel events where they planned to talk to lawmakers.

Legislative leaders have also agreed to extend committee deadlines, but the General Assembly's May 6th adjournment deadline cannot be changed because it's set in the state's constitution. If lawmakers need more time, they'll have to call a special legislative session.

PARADES

Organizers announced that the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Hartford, scheduled for Saturday, has been cancelled. That announcement came a day after New Haven scrapped plans for its parade. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city would try to reschedule or find some way to honor the Irish heritage of many of its residents.

MARCH 9, 2020

6:45 p.m.
2nd CASE CONFIRMED


On Monday afternoon, the Connecticut Department of Public Health State Laboratory identified a presumptive positive case of COVID-19 involving a second Connecticut resident.

DPH issued a directive to all nursing and convalescent homes on Monday imposing restrictions on visitation to constrain the spread of COVID-19.

4:00 p.m.
STUDENTS IN SELF-QUARANTINE


Seven students who attend Trinity College in Hartford are in self-quarantine for 14 days after possibly being exposed to coronavirus, school officials said.

Joe DiChristina, vice president for students affairs and dean of campus life, sent a notification to the campus community Sunday saying the seven students were examined at the school's health center and did not display any symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

DiChristina said the possible exposure did not occur on or near campus, and the students left campus for a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

School officials on Monday declined to say where the students were possibly exposed to the virus, citing student privacy requirements. Spokeswoman Stacy Sneed said the students attended a large event, and someone at that event tested positive for COVID-19.

STATE EMPLOYEES

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont issued an email on Monday morning to all state employees in Connecticut's executive branch agencies, informing them of the immediate freeze on state employee out-of-state travel. Any exceptions will have to be approved by agency heads and Lamont's chief operating officers.

Lamont also called on state employees working with out-of-state colleagues or colleagues to hold teleconferences rather than meet in person.

"Let's limit what our exposure is," Lamont said.
Lamont suggested older state employees and those with health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic lung diseases and weakened immune systems to work from home, if possible. He also wants state employees to avoid holding large gatherings. In an email sent to state workers on Monday money, Lamont said he has asked agency heads to provide a list of any state of Connecticut-organized large meetings, conferences or gatherings that are anticipated to have more than 100 people scheduled between now and April 30.

"Our administration will evaluate whether these events should move to teleconference or be postponed," the email said, also suggesting state employees "get in the habit" of bringing home their laptops each night "to ensure maximum flexibility."

STATE BUILDINGS
The state of Connecticut has informed private property management firms and cleaning contractors "to increase the use of disinfectants when cleaning state office buildings and to increase the frequency of disinfectant cleaning, especially focusing on common touch points." The same request has been made to those cleaning state college and university buildings.

SPRING BREAK WARNING

The president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, the state's largest higher education system, sent an email Monday to students, faculty and staff strongly discouraging them from taking personal travel outside of Connecticut, particularly during spring break.
"If you do decide to travel, you may be required to not return to campus and directed to self-quarantine for 14 days," the email read.

The email said the request not apply to faculty, staff and students who commute to campus for work or classes.

CSCU President Mark Ojakian said there is also an immediate freeze on institutionally sponsored travel outside of Connecticut until further notice, as well as a directive to postpone, cancel or adjust all campus events, other than classes, that are expected to have more 100 or more participants through at least April 30.

MARCH 8, 2020

The first presumptive positive case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) involving a Connecticut resident was confirmed as positive by health officials Sunday.
The patient, a resident of Wilton who is 40 to 50 years of age, is being treated at Danbury Hospital.

The person most likely became infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 during a recent trip to California and sought medical care shortly after returning to Connecticut.

This presumptive COVID-19 case is not related to the COVID-19 case involving a Danbury Hospital employee who is a resident of New York State that was announced on Friday, or the COVID-19 case involving a community physician who made rounds at Bridgeport Hospital and is also a New York State resident that was announced on Saturday.

This case is considered a presumptive positive case until it is confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Extensive contact tracing is being done on this case. All people who have had direct, face-to-face contact with this person are being instructed to stay home and self-isolate. Risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is considered low for people who had contact with an individual who does not have COVID-19 and does not have symptoms. In other words, a contact of a contact is considered low risk.

The City of Bridgeport was notified today by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health regarding the second confirmed case of coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the state.

The confirmed case involves a physician from New York State who rounded at Bridgeport Hospital, who was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 6, 2020.

"As we discussed yesterday during our City of Bridgeport Emergency Operations briefing, the EOC and Department of Public Health Teams remain in continual contact with all local, regional, state and federal partners to ensure we have the most up to date information and strategies regarding this virus," Mayor Joseph Ganim said.

On Friday, in a separate case, a Connecticut hospital employee and resident of New York State, had tested positive for COVID-19, Governor Lamont announced.

The employee is from Danbury and Norwalk Hospital. She was notified that she may have come in contact with someone who already had coronavirus.

Connecticut has 42 cases that have tested negative, with 11 cases pending.
Right now, the state only has one kit to test with, which is good for 600 tests. They are requesting more kits, which should arrive early next week.


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