State COVID-19 Update, March 23: Positive Cases will Surge, Will Hospitals Be Prepared?

Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the statewide total of positive COVID-19 cases is now over 400, as of Monday, March 23. In one day the number jumped from 327 to 415. Officials expect the numbers to increase dramatically, with health officials saying the state’s infection rate will double every 3-5 days.

State officials are concerned that a major surge in coronavirus cases is coming–and how prepared state hospitals will be. They’re working with hospitals to make more beds available, and considering nursing homes and college dorm rooms as options for treating overflow patients.

“This is still in the acceleration phase,” Dr. Matthew Cartter, the state epidemiologist, told press during the governor’s daily news conference, adding that he’s not sure when Connecticut hospitals will hit capacity.  “I think we just don’t know.”

First to likely reach that capacity will be hospitals in Fairfield County. “Right now, the first hospitals that will have capacity issues are Greenwich, Danbury, Bridgeport, Norwalk,” Cartter said. “The hospitals we are talking about, they are all making adjustments as we speak to their room availability, their structures where they can. They’re going to expand their ICUs. Those are things that they are doing. And right now, they are still holding their own.”

By the Numbers (March 23)

  • New positive cases in CT residents:  88
  • Total CT cases:  415 (includes 4,500 tests conducted in state and private labs)
  • People hospitalized:  54
  • Fairfield County cases: 270
  • CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19:  10 (6 in Fairfield County)

The state has made available on its website 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 among age groups.

Executive Order

Gov. Lamont signed his twelfth executive order:

  • Suspends non-critical probate court operations;
  • Suspends non-critical Workers’ Compensation Commission Operations;
  • Authorizes remote notarization;
  • Modifies regulatory requirements to protect public health and safety; and
  • Suspends certain requirements regarding the temporary hire of care workers at long-term care facilities.
Drive-Through Testing at Hospitals

Drive-through testing sites have been added at five more hospitals, bringing the statewide total of these alternate testing locations to 21.

Bridgeport Hospital
Bristol Health
Charlotte Hungerford Hospital (Torrington)
Danbury Hospital
Greenwich Hospital
Griffin Hospital (Derby)
Hartford Hospital
Johnson Memorial Hospital (Stafford Springs)
Lawrence Memorial Hospital (New London)
Manchester Memorial Hospital
Mid-State Medical Center (Meriden)
Norwalk Hospital
Rockville General Hospital (Vernon)
Saint Francis Hospital (Hartford)
Saint Mary’s Hospital (Waterbury)
Saint Vincent Hospital (Bridgeport)
Stamford Hospital
UConn John Dempsey Hospital (Farmington)
Waterbury Hospital
William H. Backus Hospital (Norwich)
Yale-New Haven Hospital

Out of State Doctors, Donated Medical Supplies

The Department of Public Health commissioner has signed an order easing the rules for out-of-state practitioners to provide services in Connecticut. It permits the temporary suspension of the requirements for licensure, registration, or certification in a number of medical professions for those who have the appropriate credentials in another state. This will allow Connecticut to accept support from neighboring states and will continue the state’s collaborative, regional approach to combating COVID-19.

Practitioners should note that until further executive action is taken, these practitioners are not able to prescribe controlled substances. This is currently being worked on by the administration.

As part of Governor Lamont’s request for the donation of Personal Protective Equipment that can be used by the state’s medical community, the state today received its first delivery of equipment. Gil’s Drywall of Plainville and PW Power Systems of Glastonbury both donated N95 respirators that were dropped off today at the state’s collection facility in Cheshire. Governor Lamont expressed his gratitude to these businesses on their generous donations.

Members of the public, businesses, and philanthropic organizations that are able to donate these vital materials are urged to contact the state by filling out an online form.

Since the launching the request late last week, the state has received responses from more than 500 entities expressing interest in offering donations.

Computers Donated by Partnership for Connecticut

To assist in remote learning as classes statewide remain canceled, the Partnership for Connecticut announced plans to donate more than 60,000 laptops to high school students in under-resourced districts.

Eligibility is limited to the high schools across the state’s 33 Alliance Districts that serve significant populations of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and laptop distribution will prioritize students demonstrating the most need.

The Partnership for Connecticut is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Connecticut’s disengaged and disconnected youth and young adults access the educational and career opportunities they need to succeed in life.

IRS Reimbursement for COVID-19 Employee Medical Leave Costs

Connecticut businesses are urged to note that the IRS is providing a full and immediate reimbursement for COVID-19 employee medical leave costs.

Connecticut Insurance Department (CID) Commissioner Andrew Mais would like small and medium-sized businesses in the state to be aware of recent IRS guidance on novel coronavirus COVID-19-related employee medical leave and new payroll tax credits. The cost of not just the leave but also of health insurance during the leave will be covered.

The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the U.S. Department of Labor announced in IR-2020-57 that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act). For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.