State COVID-19 Update, March 27: Surge in Case Numbers

Governor Ned Lamont provided the following updates as of 7 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 2020:

By the Numbers (March 27, 2020)*
  • New one-day positive cases in CT residents:  279
  • Total CT cases:  1,291 (includes 8,400-plus tests conducted in state and private labs)
  • Total People hospitalized:  173 (approximately) (68 in Fairfield County)
  • Total Fairfield County cases: 752 (up 145 in one day)
  • Total CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19: 27 (15 in Fairfield County)

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.

*Editor’s Note:  According to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice, these numbers may be underreported, because the state is no longer getting information directly from some hospitals or clinics. 

Lamont signs 16th executive order

Governor Lamont today signed another executive order–his 16th since he enacted the emergency declarations–enacting the following provisions:

  • Suspension of license renewals and inspections by the Department of Public Health:  The order modifies certain state statutes to authorize the commissioner of Public Health to waive licensing, renewal, and inspection requirements as she deems necessary to ensure the provision of adequate healthcare during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Modifies health care provider identification badge requirements:  The order modifies certain state statutes to allow healthcare providers to provide direct patient care at a health care facility or institution, with the permission of such facility or institution, using the identification badge from their own healthcare facility or institution. The order also permits the Commissioner of Public Health to establish policies and procedures regarding badging of COVID-19 response personnel should she deem it necessary to rapidly move staff due to the need for mass care in circumstance of limited resources.
  • Waives the registration requirement for alcohol-based hand sanitizers and medical devices:  The order modifies certain state statutes to permit the compounding of alcohol-based hand sanitizer production and the production of medical devices, including personal protective equipment used to assist in the treatment of COVID-19, without being required to register as a manufacturer. This provision reduces red tape to allow manufactures such as distilleries to convert to producing hand sanitizer and allows manufacturing of critically needed medical equipment by non-traditional manufacturers, as long as federal guidelines are followed.
  • Waives Birth-to-Three family cost participation fees:  The order authorizes the Commissioner of Early Childhood to waive the fees required to be paid by the parents or legal guardians of children eligible for remote early intervention services such as the Birth-to-Three program.
Connecticut National Guard deploys tents expanding capacity at VA hospital in Newington

The CT National Guard today deployed two climate-controlled tents on the grounds of the Newington V.A. Medical Center for use in dealing with potential future patient overflow. The tents are similar to the ones the Guard erected yesterday on the grounds of the V.A. hospital in West Haven.

These tents are in addition to the deployment of Connecticut Department of Public Health mobile field hospitals that were set up this week on the grounds of Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford and Danbury Hospital. A third mobile field hospital is being prepared for deployment in the next several days at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown.

Office of Early Childhood announces funding for child care services will continue throughout the crisis

The Office of Early Childhood today announced that support for child care services funded by the agency will continue throughout the COVID-19 crisis, providing a critical step to keep child care programs financially stable through this difficult time. Funding streams include School Readiness, Child Day Care, Smart Start, and Care 4 Kids, serving children ranging in age from birth through age 12.

In addition, the agency is releasing up to $4.5 million in Public Health Emergency Response Grant Funds to incentivize and support public and private programs that re-open or remain open to provide child care for children of health workers and first responders. These funds are available only during the period in which Governor Lamont’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order remains in effect.

“Connecticut needs to focus on assuring child care for essential workers today, and a supply of child care during the economic recovery of this pandemic,” Governor Lamont said. “This funding is critical for Connecticut’s workforce infrastructure.”

“I want to thank Governor Lamont for his leadership and his commitment to our child care providers,” Early Childhood Commissioner Beth Bye said. “This commitment of funding is an essential lifeline to providers so they can operate today and into the future. It also recognizes the heroic work of child care providers who care caring for children during this public health emergency, and helps assure a supply of child care.”

Connecticut’s child care industry is fiscally fragile. Many providers have indicated to the agency that a closure longer than two weeks would force them to permanently close their doors. The COVID-19 emergency has left providers and families uncertain about the future. This funding will keep programs intact and able to serve the state’s essential workers during this unprecedented public health emergency. The commitment further ensures that as families return to work, there will be child care available to support the state’s workforce. It is also noteworthy that many of these programs provide two meals per day under the Child and Adult Food Program, and this too is a critical function to maintain.

The commitment of funds was carefully reviewed and approved by the Office of the Governor and the Office of Policy and Management. It will not require any additional state dollars as these allocations are already budgeted and fit within the agency’s spending plan.

The School Readiness program serves children ages 3 and 4 in 67 communities. The Child Day Care program serves infants and toddlers, 3 and 4 year olds, and school-age children up to age 13 in 47 communities. Smart Start serves children ages 3 and 4 year in 24 public school districts. Care 4 Kids is a federally-state funded child care subsidy for primarily working families serving children infancy through age 13 statewide.

For more information about the impact of COVID-19 on child care in Connecticut, read the FAQ provided by the Office of Early Childhood. The agency is also distributing a flyer to essential workers containing information on how they can obtain needed child care throughout this emergency period.

Department of Economic and Community Development doubles first round of funding for Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program to $50 million, hits pause on new applications

Department of Economic and Community Development commissioner (DECD) David Lehman today announced that the agency is doubling the first round of funding for the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program to $50 million, and that as of 6 p.m. Friday it has stopped accepting new applications under this initial round.

The program, which launched Thursday morning, was created by Governor Lamont and DECD to provide Connecticut’s small businesses and nonprofits that are being negatively impacted by the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic with immediate cash flow through one-year, no-interest loans. During the first 24 hours, DECD has received more than 4,000 applications. The agency, along with its partner Connecticut Innovations, is assigning additional staff to process the applications.

“We feel it is prudent to hit pause and stop taking more applications right now to ensure we can process the current queue efficiently and get this much needed money out the door as quickly as possible,” Commissioner Lehman said. “We want to be fair to all applicants and taking more requests would not be right.”

DECD is encouraging Connecticut businesses and nonprofits to apply for disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Details on the forthcoming federal stimulus, which will provide direct assistance to small businesses and individuals, can be found here.

DMV allows driving schools to temporarily provide online training

Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) commissioner Sibongile Magubane – acting under the authority of a recent executive order signed by Governor Lamont – today approved a request from licensed driving schools in the state to provide online classroom training to their students during the COVID-19 crisis.

“In the face of this unprecedented health crisis and at a time when social distancing is so important, we want to help businesses regulated by DMV to continue to operate, as well as assist driving school students with continuing their education on the path to getting a driver’s license,” Commissioner Magubane said.

Driving schools were notified on Thursday of the approval. It is effective immediately and will continue until further notice.

Connecticut Department of Transportation issues update on rail service

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) today announced a series of changes to rail service and issued reminders about the status of bus service. The rail service changes follow a significant decline in ridership, the result of increased teleworking and requests by Governor Lamont for residents to “Stay Safe, Stay Home.”

The changes include:

  • New Haven Line: Beginning Monday, March 30, the New Haven Line will operate on an hourly schedule, with extra trains during peak times weekdays. This is approximately 50% less than a normal weekday schedule. The New Canaan Line, Danbury Line, and Waterbury Line will also operate on a reduced schedule.
  • Hartford Line: Beginning Monday, March 30, the Hartford Line, including both CTrail Hartford Line trains as well as Amtrak trains, will run on a new special weekday schedule. The new schedule will be posted on the Hartford Line website and at Hartford Line train stations.
  • Shore Line East: Shore Line East will continue to operate on a weekend schedule seven days a week.

All rail customers are encouraged to pre-purchase their tickets before boarding. Hartford Line and Shore Line East customers may purchase rail tickets using the CTrail e-Tix mobile app (Apple App Store or Google Play Store) or through ticket vending machines located at New Haven Union Station, New Haven State Street Station, and all Hartford Line stations.

Bus service throughout the state continues to operate on a weekday schedule with some exceptions. CTtransit buses to Hartford are operating on a reduced schedule due to significantly lower ridership. In all locations statewide, customers must board from the rear door (when available) with the exception of persons in wheelchairs and others who require the bus to kneel.