State COVID-19 Update, March 18: Two CT Coronavirus Deaths, Malls & Parks Closed, and More

  • FIRST TWO CT COVID-19 DEATHS:  Gov. Ned Lamont released a statement Wednesday, March 18, regarding the first COVID-19 death in CT:  “It is with sadness today that we are confirming the first death of a person in Connecticut due to severe complications from COVID-19. The patient, a man in his 80s, had recently been admitted to Danbury Hospital, where he was receiving treatment. He had been a resident of an assisted living facility in Ridgefield. 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. We know that people of an advanced age and in certain conditions are among the most at risk of this disease, however I urge everyone in Connecticut–regardless of age or condition–to take an active role in doing their part to reduce the spread of this virus throughout our communities so we can protect one another.”

According to the Hartford Courant, two senior living facilities in CT have had at least one resident who has tested positive for coronavirus:  Benchmark Senior Living in Ridgefield, where the 88-year-old man lived; and Evergreen Health Care Center in Stafford Springs, where an elderly man has also tested positive.

“The state Department of Public Health has sent staff to both facilities to ‘review mitigation efforts and infection-control procedures to slow down and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within our nursing homes,’ Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell said.”

Since then, a second resident has died of COVID-19 related illness, a 91-year-old New Canaan man who was hospitalized at Norwalk Hospital.

  • As of Wednesday, March 18, an additional 28 Connecticut residents tested positive, bringing the total positive cases reported in the state to 96.
  • Governor Lamont Wednesday signed another executive order taking actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This one:
    • Closes large indoor malls and places of amusement (but not parks and open space areas) effective 8 p.m., Thursday, March 19 through April 30, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated, any stores, pharmacies, restaurants, or other establishments located within or connected to large shopping malls must be closed to the public; also, all places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, such as locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, and other family and children’s attractions shall be closed to the public. This directive does not apply to public parks and open recreation areas.
    • Allows Medicaid to cover audio-only telehealth services
    • Provides flexibility for critical legal functions regarding conservators and competency hearings to ensure the safety of nursing home patients
    • Exempts certain schools inside state facilities from school cancellation order.
  • Department of Public Health is providing a status update on Personal Protective Equipment.

On March 11, 2020, the CT Department of Public Health submitted its first request for resources from the Strategic National Stockpile. This request was made through the federal Department of Health and Humans Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/ASPR).

The first shipment is expected to be received in the coming days. The following chart provides a description of what is anticipated in the first shipment:

ITEM REQUESTED EXPECTED FIRST SHIPMENT
N95 respirators 250,000 34,383
Face masks/surgical masks 250,000 81,906
Face shield 250,000 15,596
Surgical gowns 250,000 12,716
Coveralls 250,000 65
Gloves 250,000 45,277

 

Once received these resources will be distributed on a priority basis to ensure medical providers, hospitals, emergency medical responders (including first responders who provide emergency medical response), and other stakeholders can continue to provide essential services. A distribution strategy has been developed through existing channels utilizing the Connecticut National Guard and other partners. The Department of Public Health in collaboration with partner agencies is currently in the process of developing an algorithm to identify the level and urgency of all requests to ensure the PPE supplies we receive are appropriately conserved and allocated.  Governor Lamont and state officials are strongly urging providers and users of PPE to follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conserve PPE already on hand.

  • Access Health CT is opening a special enrollment period for those who are uninsured.
  • To help provide additional guidance to restaurants and bars about Executive Order No. 7D, which was issued on Monday and limits these establishments to take-out and delivery services only, Governor Lamont provided the following information:

These establishments are permitted to continue operating during the pandemic, however they cannot sell alcohol, and any food that is served at these establishments must be for take-out and delivery only, meaning that the food cannot be consumed on-premises.

They can still allow customers inside of their buildings to place orders and pick up the food to be taken out and consumed at a different location.

They can still permit customers to use the restrooms as they normally would.

In addition, the order does not require onsite workplace cafeterias to close or stop serving food. Employees in general are encouraged to bring their own meals to work if possible rather than using such facilities. To the extent feasible, employers are encouraged to permit or require employees who order food at workplace cafeterias to eat those meals in private work spaces. If employers permit employees to eat food within workplace cafeterias, they should implement appropriate social distancing measures and make every effort to minimize the number of people congregating within a confined space or area. Workplace cafeterias should also stop or limit self-serve food and drinks such as:

          • Buffets and salad bars
          • Soups
          • Fountain sodas
          • Coffee
          • Reusable food and drink containers

Finally, the order does not apply to food trucks, however they are encouraged to practice safe social distancing.

  • Department of Labor closes main office and American Job Centers to in-person visits, encourage use of online services.
  • Department of Agriculture sent communications today affirming that farmers’ markets can remain open.
  • Department of Education is seeking a waver for standardized testing requirements, continues providing resources to support student learning during closures, assist in meals program.

The State Department of Education (SDE) is seeking a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for the standardized testing requirements each school is required to complete annually. As the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted classroom learning already this school year, SDE Commissioner Miguel Cardona believes that it is best to waive those requirements for this school year.

In addition, the agency is continuing to develop resources that best meet the needs of school districts in their efforts to support student learning while classes remain canceled. On Tuesday, SDE compiled and disseminated a combination of print and digital resources designed to engage students in grade PK-12 and support their continued learning during this emergency period. The department is engaging providers of content to obtain materials, utilizing RESC partners as repositories for resources, exemplars, and material that will be available to all districts.

SDE also continues to aid in the effort to ensure that school districts are able to continue delivering meals to students under the school lunch and breakfast programs. To date, 123 schools have been approved to participate in this revamped, emergency program, which allows students and their parents to pick up their meals at one location, take them away, and then consume them at home. Districts are using a combination of locations for the meals to be picked up, such as schools, parks, YMCAs, Boys and Girls Club, town offices, and other locations. Families should check with their individual schools for instructions on their respective method for meal distributions.

  • Through a partnership with the state, a coalition of outdoor advertisers are donating electronic billboard space to spread public awareness about COVID-19.