On Friday, March 20, Gov. Ned Lamont issued an executive order (his 9th) restricting non-essential businesses and non-profits, effective Monday, March 23 at 8 p.m.. Those non-essential workplaces must now, to the extent possible, transition to 100% work-from-home and telecommuting as of that deadline, in a campaign he’s calling “Stay Safe, Stay Home.”

The state’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will issue guidance about which businesses are considered essential by 8 p.m. on March 22. (A list of essential sectors is provided by the Federal government, and while the governor’s list will presumably follow this, it may include others.) The governor’s full written order included the following businesses, but a final list will be issued Sunday evening:

“Essential health care operations including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, elder care and home health care workers, companies and institutions involved in the research and development, manufacture, distribution, warehousing, and supplying of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology therapies, health care data, consumer health products, medical devices, diagnostics, equipment, services and any other healthcare related supplies or services; essential infrastructure, including utilities, wastewater and drinking water, telecommunications, airports and transportation infrastructure; manufacturing, including food processing, pharmaceuticals, and industries supporting the essential services required to meet national security commitments to the federal government and U.S. Military; the defense industrial base, including aerospace, mechanical and software engineers, manufacturing/production workers, aircraft and weapon system mechanics and maintainers; essential retail, including grocery stores and big-box stores or wholesale clubs, provided they also sell groceries; pharmacies, gas stations and convenience stores; food and beverage retailers (including liquor/package stores and manufacturer permittees) and restaurants, provided they comply with previous and future executive orders issued during the existing declared public health and civil preparedness emergency; essential services including trash and recycling collection, hauling, and processing, mail and shipping services; news media; legal and accounting services; banks, insurance companies, check cashing services, and other financial institutions; providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations; construction; vendors of essential services and goods necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other essential businesses, including pest control and landscaping services; vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services needed to ensure the continuing operation of government agencies and the provision of goods, services or functions necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

Members of the public will still be able to access food, supermarkets, banks, gas stations, pharmacies, and more, but are strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.

Any business that is not including on the list of essential businesses, but that wants to be included can file for an exception in order to be deemed essential.

By the Numbers (as of March 20)
  • New positive cases in CT residents:  35
  • Total CT cases:  194 (includes state and private labs)
  • Fairfield County cases: 122 (+20 since March 19)
  • CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19:  4 is (+1 since March 19)

The fourth death was a woman in her 80s who had been living in her private home in Norwalk; she died while being treated at Norwalk Hospital.

Lamont Reins in Selectmen & Mayors, to “Coordinate” effort between the State and CT Towns

Lamont’s executive order restricted municipal executives (first selectmen and mayors) and requires a coordinated effort between the State of Connecticut and its municipalities when responding to this emergency.

That means local leaders cannot supersede Lamont’s orders–for instance ordering town residents to “shelter in place” or prohibit travel, if the rest of the state is not under such an order.

According to the governor’s announcement, “Consistency and uniformity are an absolute necessity during a public health emergency, and it is critical that the state has consistent guidelines in place across our cities and towns. This order prohibits municipalities from issuing shelter-in-place orders or prohibitions on travel without permission from the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP).”

He added, “It also prospectively prohibits city and town leaders from enacting or enforcing any order that conflicts with any order issued by the governor or a state agency pursuant to his March 10 emergency declaration without permission from DESPP.”

Donations Needed for Personal Protective Equipment

The state has launched a way for residents to donate much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)–protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer’s body from injury or infection that are utilized by people providing healthcare services, including first responders and healthcare providers.

Members of the public, businesses, and philanthropic organizations that wish to donate these vital materials should fill out the online form located on the state’s 2-1-1 info website.

The United Way 2-1-1 of Connecticut will be working with the Department of Public Health to collect the input of donation requests and will ensure that donated items are appropriate for the needs of hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The specific items being requested by the state at this time include

N95 Respirators
Face Masks/Surgical Masks
Face Shields
Surgical Gowns
Gloves (nitrile, or non-latex)
Thermometer Covers (if applicable to type of thermometer)
Hand Sanitizer
Other Medical Items

This donation framework will remain in place to support additional donation efforts in the future.

The Connecticut National Guard has been continuing to distribute PPE to locations throughout the state, including at Connecticut Health Centers. The Guard will continue to assist DPH with deliveries throughout the pandemic.

FDA Transfers Responsibility for Testing Approvals to State DPH

Yesterday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed every state that effective immediately, the states are now responsible for approving COVID-19 testing for all commercial laboratories within their respective states.

As CT’s Department of Public Health will begin assuming these responsibilities for Connecticut, Commissioner Renée D. Coleman-Mitchell has met with key staff to develop a plan based on the FDA order. The following steps are in process:

  • Drafting lab protocols per guidance from FDA
  • Establishing a timeline for DPH to roll out the approval process and go live; the goal is to have all of these ready by Wednesday, March 23
  • DPH is developing a staffing plan to survey the commercial laboratory facilities

Drive-Through Testing at Hospitals

St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport has enacted a drive-through testing site at its facility, bringing the statewide number of these alternative testing locations to 16. This is in addition to the testing that is being done at the DPH State Laboratory. [Editor’s Note:  Drive-through testing is also being conducted at Norwalk Hospital. First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice‘s update for March 20 indicated a total of 20 hospitals conducting drive-through testing.]

The latest list of alternative, drive-through testing locations include:

Bridgeport Hospital
Bristol Hospital
Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (Torrington)
Danbury Hospital
Greenwich Hospital
Hartford Hospital
Johnson Memorial Hospital (Stafford Springs)
Lawrence Memorial Hospital (New London)
Manchester Memorial Hospital
Mid-State Medical Center (Meriden)
Stamford Hospital
Saint Francis Hospital (Hartford)
Saint Mary’s Hospital (Waterbury)
Waterbury Hospital
Yale-New Haven Hospital

As a reminder, no one should arrive at any of these locations and ask to be tested. Anyone experiencing symptoms should consult with their medical provider, who will then refer them for testing.

Governor Lamont and DECD Conference Call with 5,000 small business owners and leaders about COVID-19 Impact on businesses

On Thursday, March 19, Lamont and the Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner David Lehman conducted a conference call with more than 5,000 small businesses owners and leaders throughout the state, covering what the state has done and is planning to do to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.

During the call, the governor discussed the state’s new bridge-loan program that is being set up to help small and medium-sized businesses. Details continue to be finalized, and more information is anticipated to be released next week.

To listen to the full audio of the hour-long conference call, visit the state’s COVID-19 business resource page.

Earlier this week, DECD launched the COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit, which will be dedicated to help businesses in Connecticut navigate the resources available to them during this crisis. Small businesses seeking guidance can reach this unit by calling 860.500.2333.

Tax Filing Deadlines Extended to July 15

The Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is extending filing and payment deadlines for personal income tax returns to July 15, 2020 (aligning with the federal government and the IRS).

The extension also applies to Connecticut estimated income tax payments for the first and second quarters of 2020.

Connecticut taxpayers who are owed a refund may still file with DRS. The easiest way to file – and the fastest way to receive a refund – is through online filing, including via the DRS online Taxpayer Service Center, which is easy, secure, and free to use. Since Connecticut’s personal income tax return begins with federal Adjusted Gross Income, it is often beneficial to complete one’s federal income tax return first.

Taxpayers are encouraged to visit the DRS website, where additional updates will be posted.

DMV Announces New extensions and Waivers on Vehicle Registrations, Emissions Testing, and More

The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) today announced that it is adding vehicle registrations, emissions testing, and several other items to the extension period for Connecticut residents with expiring credentials. In addition to extending the expiration date of DMV credentials, late fees associated with eligible expired credentials and compliance issues will also be waived during this extension period.

The extensions announced today apply to vehicle and boat registrations, emissions testing, new residents, disabled parking placards, business licenses, suspension-related matters, inspections, school bus proficiency tests, and flashing light permits.

Check the DMV website for specific information on today’s announcements and details about each of these extension periods.

For Businesses experiencing issues regarding supply chains, delivery of goods, or business continuity

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection is encouraging businesses in the state that are experiencing issues regarding supply chains, delivery of goods, or business continuity to contact the FEMA National Business Emergency Operations Center by email. This is a 24/7 operation and they can assist in directing the inquiry to the proper contact.

For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including guidance and other resources, all residents in the state are encouraged to visit the state’s coronavirus webpages.

Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The information line is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance and TDD/TTY access for those with a hearing impairment. The hotline is only intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider to seek treatment.

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