State COVID-19 Update, March 31: Biggest 1-Day Jump in Fairfield County Positive Cases

On a day when the number of Fairfield County positive cases of COVID-19 jumped by 425–the largest, one-day jump, Gov. Ned Lamont provided his nightly updates on the state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis for Tuesday, March 31:

By the Numbers (March 31)
  • New one-day positive cases in CT residents:  557
  • Total CT cases:  3,128 (includes 15,600-plus tests conducted in state and private labs)
  • Total People hospitalized:  608 (approximately) (275 in Fairfield County)
  • Total Fairfield County cases:  1,870 (up 425 in one day)
  • Total CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19: 69 (33 newly reported) (38 in Fairfield County)

The number of deaths for Tuesday, March 31 includes 14 cases from March 17-29 that previously had not been reported to the Dept. of Public Health, but that were reported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.  There were 16 COVID-19 related deaths on March 30, and 3 on March 31. Moving forward, deaths reported to the either the OCME or DPH will be included in the daily COVID-19 update. All data in this report are preliminary; data for previous dates will be updated as new reports are received and data errors are corrected. Hospitalization data were collected by the Connecticut Hospital Association.

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 19th executive order

Governor Lamont today signed another executive order – the 19th since he enacted the emergency declarations – enacting the following provisions:

  • Continuation of funding for boards of education:  The order requires the Connecticut State Department of Education to continue processing appropriated state grant funds intended to support boards of education through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, including ECS grants, payments for special education, and Choice programming. It also requires municipalities to continue providing funding to local boards of education as set forth in the approved annual school budgets.
  • Continuation of payment of public school staff:  The order requires school districts to continue to employ, or restore to employment if already laid off, and pay school staff who are directly employed by the local or regional boards of education.
  • Preservation of student transportation services and special education providers:  The order requires local boards of education and municipalities to negotiate amendments to contracts related to student transportation and special education services with the goal of continuing to make payments to transportation and special education providers so they may compensate their active employees, sustain the continuity of service when school resumes, and require the contracted company to attest and provide reasonable documentation of the fact that it is charging only the actual and reasonable cost of sustaining wage and health insurance payments for active employees and fleet.
  • Restrictions on entrance to state parks, forests, and other lands:  In light of significant visitors to certain state parks in recent days, the order gives the commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection the authority to ban visitors from entering state parks and other lands under the agency’s control after the property has reached a capacity adequate to supporting implementation of social distancing policies to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • Curbside pickup of alcoholic beverages permitted:  The order authorizes package stores and grocery stores to permit the sale of curbside pickup of all alcoholic beverages allowed by their permit type in any space adjacent to their permit premise and during the days and hours allowed for legal sale.
Connecticut National Guard deploys federal mobile medical station at Southern Connecticut State University

The Connecticut National Guard today activated 150 personnel to the campus of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven to help with staging and unloading a mobile medical station provided to the state by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Guard’s mission deploying the station on the campus will continue Wednesday.

Governor Lamont reaches agreement with banks and credit unions to provide mortgage payment relief

Governor Lamont today announced that his administration has reached an agreement with over 50 credit unions and banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief to the state’s residents and businesses who continue to face hardship caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agreement, the following relief policies are being offered by participating financial institutions:

  • 90-day grace period for all mortgage payments:  Participating financial institutions are now offering mortgage-payment forbearances of up to 90 days, which will allow homeowners to reduce or delay monthly mortgage payments. In addition, the institutions will:
    • Provide a streamlined process for requesting forbearance for COVID-19-related reasons, supported with available documentation;
    • Confirm approval and terms of forbearance program; and
    • Provide the opportunity to extend forbearance agreements if faced with continued hardship resulting from COVID-19.
  • Relief from fees and charges for 90 days:  For at least 90 days, participating financial institutions will waive or refund mortgage-related late fees and other fees including early CD withdrawals.
  • No new foreclosures for 60 days:  Financial institutions will not start any foreclosure sales or evictions.
  • No credit score changes for accessing relief:  For those taking advantage of this COVID-19-related relief, late or missed payments will not be shared with credit reporting agencies.

The agreement, which was negotiated on behalf of the Lamont administration by Commissioner Jorge Perez at the Connecticut Department of Banking, builds upon similar initiatives that have been enacted in recent days in California and New Jersey and has been endorsed by the Connecticut Bankers Association and the Credit Union League of Connecticut. More than 50 credit unions and banks statewide are participating, including Webster Bank, American Eagle Financial Credit Union, Liberty Bank, Charter Oak Federal Credit Union, Bank of America, Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union, and Peoples United Bank. Additional financial institutions are expected to join the initiative in the coming days. The Department of Banking will maintain an updated list of participating institutions on its website.

“This agreement with our financial institutions will allow Connecticut residents to obtain some relief as this public health emergency has had an impact on thousands of people in our state,” Governor Lamont said. “I thank each of these financial institutions that will provide this relief and applaud their participation in this agreement. The way we are going to get through this crisis is by working together, and this is an example of how we are going to get that done.”

For more information, read the press release issued today by Governor Lamont.

Office of Health Strategy further streamlines approval process for additional hospital beds

To further streamline the approval process for additional hospital beds to accommodate a growing number of seriously ill COVID-19 patients, the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) today released revised guidance and is now including outpatient surgical facilities among those required to simply complete a notification form, rather than apply for a Certificate of Need (CON) waiver. The intent is to accelerate implementation of emergency planning to address the COVID-19 crisis, approve expanded facilities to meet urgent demand, and still provide OHS a mechanism to track changes. OHS is providing the state’s hospitals and outpatient surgical facilities with a revised form to submit to the agency when seeking to perform these actions.

As before, once the state’s public health emergency is lifted, all temporary approvals will be rescinded and the full statutory, CON process will be restored.