State COVID-19 Update–April 9: Lamont’s Nursing Home Plan for ‘COVID Recovery Centers’

Gov. Ned Lamont provided his update for Wednesday, April 8 on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic:

By the Numbers (April 7)
  • New one-day positive cases in CT residents:  1,000 (up from 875 new cases on April 7)
  • Total CT cases:  8,781 (includes more than 31,700 tests conducted in state and private labs)
  • Total People hospitalized:  1,418 (approximately) (613 in Fairfield County)
  • Total Fairfield County cases: 4,417 (up 281 in one day)
  • Total CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19: 335 (58 newly reported) (155 in Fairfield County–up 23 in one day)

Visit the state’s coronavirus webpage for several additional charts and tables containing more data groups, including a town-by-town breakdown of positive cases in each municipality and a breakdown of cases and deaths among age groups.

For several additional graphs and tables containing more data, including a list of cases in every municipality and data broken down by age, gender, race, and other factors, visit ct.gov/coronavirus.

State continuing to process donations for Personal Protective Equipment

The State of Connecticut is continuing to process inputs from people, businesses, and organizations who wish to donate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use in the state’s hospitals and long-term care facilities. To date, there have been 2,027 offers to donate items. Those offers are being processed through a collaboration between the Department of Public Health and the United Way 2-1-1 of Connecticut.

The state continues to request PPE for health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers. To donate PPE, click here to fill out an intake form.

Governor Lamont announces medical surge plan in partnership with Connecticut’s long-term care facilities

Gov. Lamont today announced a partnership with Connecticut’s long-term care facilities to collaborate on a medical surge plan that includes the establishment of COVID-19 recovery centers in nursing homes to accept patients who can be discharged from acute care hospitals but are still impacted by COVID-19 infection. So far, at least four such recovery centers will be opened in Torrington, Bridgeport, Meriden, and Sharon that will make available more than 500 new beds for COVID-19 patients.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is also working with hospitals to ensure that more patients can be tested while they are hospitalized in order to receive the two negative COVID-19 test results 24 hours apart that are needed in order for a patient to be discharged to a general long-term care facility. There are currently more than 2,000 available beds in long-term care facilities that could be occupied by patients currently hospitalized who could be discharged when they get their negative COVID-19 tests.

“Residents of long-term care facilities represent our most vulnerable population during this pandemic, as the virus can spread quickly within the enclosed environment such as a nursing home,” Public Health Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell said. “We are committed to doing everything we can to make sure our nursing home residents get the care they need and that nursing home staff are protected with enough equipment. These new COVID-19 recovery centers will provide hundreds of new beds for COVID-19 care all over the state, and this will help to make hospital beds available to absorb the surge of hospitalizations we anticipate in the next couple of weeks.”

The Connecticut Department of Social Services and the Office of Policy and Management have determined a specific payment rate of $600 per day for the COVID-19 recovery centers, and additional payments of 10% across the board for all nursing homes in Connecticut during the course of the pandemic.

“This plan will assist our long-term care facilities and dedicated staff in their continuing efforts to protect residents and themselves from the spread of COVID-19,” Social Services Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford said. “By establishing facilities with a special focus on the care of individuals with COVID-19 and providing necessary funding, we will support the state’s overall medical surge response. This recognizes the additional costs being experienced by the industry at large. DSS is proud to support Governor Lamont, our fellow state agencies, and key partners in this crucial initiative.”

Athena Health Care systems is one of the first private Connecticut nursing home providers to partner with the state on the effort to open up COVID-19 recovery centers.

Larry Santilli, president and CEO of Athena Health Care Systems, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented incredible and unprecedented challenges to the state. I am glad that Athena Health Care Systems is in a position to answer the state’s call for assistance at this critical time. Our history, experience, the expertise of our incredible team, and more than 35 years as Connecticut’s leader in senior care, make us well-suited to help the state and to help those afflicted with COVID-19. The true heroes in this battle are the amazing teams at Sharon and Northbridge Health Care Centers, as well as the new teams assembling in Torrington and Meriden. I believe that their work will help in the state’s goal to mitigate this pandemic as much as possible and as quickly as possible. These centers can provide nearly 500 beds of post-acute care, providing much needed support to our state’s acute care hospitals during the impending surge. Since the beginning of this pandemic, our leadership team in Farmington has been available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide counsel and management to every Athena center – and will now provide that expertise to new teams in Torrington and Meriden.”

Connecticut Long-Term Care Ombudsman Mairead Painter said, “Throughout this pandemic the governor, in consultation with the Department of Public Health, has had to make difficult decisions. I am thankful that they have kept the rights of residents, including the right to appropriate medical care, at the forefront of this decision making.”

Connecticut Department of Labor provides $35 million in benefit payments to 104,000 residents during pandemic

The Connecticut Department of Labor has provided more than $35 million in benefits payments to nearly 104,000 claimants for the week ending April 4. The agency has now processed nearly 133,000 claims of the more than 302,000 the agency has received since March 13.

“We recognize the critical role unemployment insurance plays, as it provides a lifeline to people who are out of work,” Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said. “During this time of need, the agency is working extra hours and weekends to process claims as quickly as possible and to program in computer changes to accommodate the new federal programs that will provide additional unemployment benefits.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began to dramatically affect Connecticut and its businesses community, the agency was typically issuing approximately 40,000 benefit payments weekly, providing $15 to $16 million in benefits to those seeking new employment. The $35 million dollars issued this past week represents a more than 100 percent increase in the amount of benefits that were provided the previous week.

“Typically the agency receives 3,000 new claims a week–but the applications we have seen in last 21 days represent more than we would handle in 18 months,” Commissioner Westby added. “Typically, a staff of 20 handles the weekly processing, but we now have over 80 CTDOL employees – including those from other units, retirees, and former staff who have transferred to other agencies – all working together to get benefits to our residents as quickly as possible. Additional staff are receiving training and will soon be assisting as well. The agency appreciates the public’s patience as it works to process the thousands of claims that have been filed as a result of the pandemic. Although there continues to be a six-week backlog, all eligible claims will be processed, paid, and retroactive to the date they were filed.”

While the numbers in Connecticut are staggering, Connecticut is not unique. Unemployment claims are up in record numbers across the country, as states close non-essential businesses to slow the virus.

To speed up the processing of their claims, unemployed residents who have not yet filed should:

  • Visit www.filectui.com
  • Click first on the message above the large blue button that notes, “For quicker payment of unemployment benefits, please follow these instructions.” The link will bring claimants to a guide that should be read before filing for benefits.

For residents who have already filed a claim, Commissioner Westby reminds residents that it is very important they check their email (including junk and spam folders) daily for updated messages from the Labor Department.

The agency hopes to be able to provide the federal benefits, including the weekly $600 in additional payments and benefits to self-employed individuals and independent contractors, in the next several weeks. Updates on the status of these programs will also be posted to the agency’s website, www.ctdol.state.ct.us. Federal benefits will be retroactive to the date they were signed into law.

For more information, read the press release issued today by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

State officials warn residents to be aware of work-from-home scams

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), the Better Business Bureau Serving Connecticut, and Attorney General William Tong are warning families about work from home scams that may be targeting vulnerable workers during this time. DCP has received complaints about re-shipping scams since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Connecticut.

How the scam works

  • Those out of work may see online job postings offering an easy work-from-home opportunity: simply re-shipping packages.
  • After a quick hiring process (that typically involves divulging personal information), victims begin to receive packages.
  • Next, they “inspect” packages, and re-ship them with new shipping labels provided by the company.
  • When they inquire about their payment, no one at the “company” they’re working for can be contacted, and they never receive compensation.

Risk of the scam

  • Items being shipped or picked up in this scam may have been purchased with stolen credit cards or funds – putting those who have fallen victim to the scam in potential legal trouble. This may include law enforcement visiting their home.
  • Those who fall victim to employment scams unknowingly put themselves at risk for several other types of fraud and identity theft, especially if they have provided personal or financial information such as a bank account numbers for payroll.

How to avoid work-from-home scams

  • Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If anyone guarantees you employment – and a large amount of money – it’s a scam.
  • No legitimate company will ever charge you money to apply for a job or charge you a fee before you start – avoid any company or individual that says it’s a requirement.
  • If you do see a job posting, and you’re interested in applying, research the reputation of the company first, and even search the name of the company in conjunction with the words “fraud” or “scam” to see if anyone has reported suspicious activity in the past.