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Rep. Fishbein's Connecticut Coronavirus Update - 3/17/2020

According to Governor Lamont, as of 4:30 p.m. tonight – Tuesday, March 17th – the state has diagnosed a total of 68 cases of Coronavirus.

Latest COVID-19 Testing Data in Connecticut
Updated 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Total patients who tested positive (including presumptive positive): 68

Fairfield County: 48

Hartford County: 7

Litchfield County: 5

New Haven County: 8

For more information and links to local, state and federal agencies, as well as tips and ideas to keep your children busy, please go to my state website and click the Coronavirus Information and Resources page.

The governor’s full release follows:

GOVERNOR LAMONT PROVIDES UPDATE ON CONNECTICUT’S CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE EFFORTS

Latest Data as of 4:30PM on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

KEY POINTS:

Since yesterday, an additional 27 Connecticut residents tested positive, bringing the total positive cases reported in the state to 68.

Governor Lamont today signed another executive order taking actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, this one:

  1. Makes modifications to the governor’s previously enacted waiver of the 180-day school year.
  2. Suspends the requirement that public assistance benefit overpayments be immediately recouped.
  3. Suspends a state law regarding fingerprinting at police departments.
  • Department of Economic and Community Development is launching the COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit to aid businesses in economic recovery.
  • Connecticut Hospital Association is working with the Department of Public Health to ensure adequate hospital space to meet the needs of patients.
  • As blood drives have been canceled nationwide to mitigate the spread of the virus, the Red Cross of Connecticut is seeking donors to call ahead and make appointments that will allow for social distancing.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles is suspending in-person visits at all of their branches effective 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. Certain deadlines are being extended, and customers are also encouraged to conduct transactions online.
  • The Office of Early Childhood is actively working to ensure childcare remains available for healthcare staff and first responders.
  • The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is suspending enforcement activities at bottle collection facilities, giving stores discretion to shut them down. They are also suspending in-person visits at their main office.
  • Attorney General Tong has received 71 complaints about price gouging on basic supplies.
  • The Department of Social Services has suspended in-person visits at all of their facilities.

(HARTFORD, CT) – As the State of Connecticut continues taking actions in response to the global spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Governor Ned Lamont provided the following updates as of 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

Data updates on testing in Connecticut

Since yesterday’s update, an additional 27 Connecticut residents have tested positive, bringing the total number of positive cases reported in Connecticut (including presumptive positive) – from both the State Laboratory and private laboratories – to 68. The new cases since yesterday include 19 more in Fairfield County, 3 more in Hartford County, 1 more in Litchfield County, and 4 more in New Haven County.

A county-by-county breakdown of the total positive cases statewide includes:

·      Fairfield County: 48

·      Hartford County: 7

·      Litchfield County: 5

·      New Haven County: 8

Governor Lamont signs sixth executive order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Lamont signed another executive order – the sixth since he enacted the civic preparedness and public health emergency declarations – that builds upon his efforts to encourage mitigation strategies that slow down transmission of the virus.

Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7E enacts the following provisions:

·      Modifies previously enacted waiver of 180-day school year: As a result of evolving circumstances, this order modifies Executive Order No. 7 to account for the potential impact on schools that may be subject to longer-term cancellation of in-school classes and permits schools, upon reopening in the spring of 2020, to close school on their normally scheduled end-dates, so long as local and regional boards of education provide opportunities for continuity of education to all students to the greatest extend possible consistent with federal and state guidance.

·      Suspension of the requirement that public assistance benefit overpayments be immediately recouped: The order modifies certain laws and authorizes the commissioner of Social Services, to the extent permitted by federal law, to temporarily suspend recoupment of non-fraudulent overpayments for public assistance programs for the duration of the pandemic emergency.

·      Suspension of required fingerprinting availability: Suspends a state law that prohibits employees of a municipal police department or the State Police from refusing to collect the fingerprints of a person requesting such fingerprinting for the purposes of a criminal history records check, and permits police department fingerprinting hours to be limited or eliminated to limit the transmission of COVID-19. Troops will continue to remain open to the general public for other business.

Department of Economic and Community Development launches COVID-19

business response unit

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is launching the COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit, which will be dedicated to helping 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.

In addition, DECD and Advance CT, a nonprofit organization that works to advance economic competitiveness in Connecticut, today began distributing a comprehensive survey to businesses to get information on what types of resources they need throughout the duration of this pandemic. This will help the state gather important information on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses interested in participating in this survey can access it here.

Yesterday, Governor Lamont announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration approved his request to provide disaster relief to Connecticut’s small businesses and nonprofits that are negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Preparing for space needs of hospitals

The Connecticut Hospital Association is working with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and others to prepare for space needs in hospitals. They’re exploring the best ways to restructure space in their facilities in order to accommodate patients safely, as some patients require things like negative pressure rooms. These efforts are in order to ensure that people receive treatment and the spread of COVID-19 is mitigated.

As blood drives have been canceled, Red Cross of Connecticut

asks donors to schedule appointments

To mitigate the spread of the virus and reduce gatherings of large groups of people, the American Red Cross has canceled nearly 2,700 blood drives throughout the country. More then 80 percent of the blood the Red Cross collects come from donation drives, and these cancellations have resulted in some 86,000 fewer blood donations.

The Red Cross of Connecticut is asking people in the state to consider donating blood by calling ahead to one of their offices and scheduling an appointment that will allow them to encourage safe social distancing while still ensuring blood donations are being received.

Individuals interested in donating blood can schedule an appointment by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.

Department of Motor Vehicles suspends in-person visits

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is closing all branch offices to the public for the transaction of business effective at the close of business on Tuesday, March 17. Employees will continue to report to their work locations, unless otherwise instructed, and will assist with transactions that are completed online, through the mail, and by interactive voice recognition.

Customers seeking further information should visit www.ctdmv.info for daily status updates.

Office of Early Childhood working to ensure childcare

for healthcare staff and first responders

Our communities rely on child care providers to support families, particularly those who play a critical role during this public health emergency. The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is working to make child care available for healthcare staff and first responders in particular. On Monday, OEC posted 37 waivers for child care facilities in order to ensure child care is flexible. The agency is actively working with several hospitals to provide stand-up child care for their workers and hopes to expand this effort.

Families are encouraged to look to trusted friends, neighbors and family members, who are not in a high-risk category – for child care. Anyone in need of child care is encouraged to dial 2-1-1 and they will be directed to resources in their area.

OEC is sending out guidelines today to child care programs and families throughout the state to help ensure everyone remains safe during this period.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection suspends enforcement

of bottle collections, suspends public visits to offices

To help mitigate the spread of the virus, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is suspending its enforcement activities at bottle collection facilities, however it is not requiring that these facilities shut down. This will enable stores the discretion to have more of their staff focused on stocking shelves with needed food and supplies.

DEEP is also suspending in-person visits by members of the public at their main office in Hartford effective immediately.

Attorney General Tong provides update on price gouging complaints

Attorney General William Tong today announced that the Office of the Attorney General has received 71 complaints regarding large price hikes on basic supplies like hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and toilet paper since Governor Lamont declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies on March 10.

The office has received reports of 7.5 oz hand sanitizer bottles retailing for more than $25 and 2 oz bottles of hand sanitizer selling for $10 at local gas stations and stores. Consumers have also reported price hikes on basic necessities like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes. In some cases, consumers have reported 30-packs of toilet paper retailing for $39.99 and three-packs of disinfectant wipes selling for nearly $40.

Anyone who suspects price gouging should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online at www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint. If consumers are unable to file a complaint online or via email, they can call the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318.

Department of Social Services suspends in-person visits at all facilities

Department of Social Services (DSS) field offices are now closed to the public as a protective measure for the safety of customers and staff.  DSS staff are working and the agency is continuing to provide services.

DSS customers can access benefit and application information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at www.connect.ct.gov and www.ct.gov/dss/apply. Customers can also call 1-855-6-CONNECT (1-855-626-6632).  Full information on ways to contact DSS online, by phone, by mail, and at office dropboxes is at www.ct.gov/dss/fieldoffices.

Providing information to Connecticut residents

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 ct.gov/coronavirus.

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 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.

-end-

Additional Action Taken by DPH, CT Hospital Association,

Internet Providers and Eversource

To speed testing and ensure the safety of the public, the Connecticut Department of Health (DPH) approved outdoor collection sites for several hospitals in the Yale new Haven health network, including Bridgeport Hospital, Lawrence and Memorial Hospital, Yale New haven Hospital and Greenwich Hospital.

Also, the Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) established a website that contains information about COVID-19 resources and links to important information.

Additionally, many companies have altered their business models due to the Coronavirus situation, including cable and Internet operators and Eversource energy.

Connecticut Department of Public Health Approved

Outdoor COVID-19 Specimen Collection

Yale New Haven Health, including Bridgeport, Greenwich, L&M and Yale New Haven Hospitals, received approval from the Connecticut Department of Public Health to begin outdoor COVID-19 specimen collection.

In order to have a specimen collected, the PATIENT MUST HAVE AN ORDER FOR THE TEST from his/her physician.

After the order is placed, the patient will receive a call to schedule an APPOINTMENT FOR COLLECTION.  Medical staff have been instructed on how to order the test through Epic (the Electronic Medical Record System).

The collection sites are located at:

  • Bridgeport Hospital – Ahlbin Center garage, 226 Mill Hill Ave., Bridgeport, Monday-Friday from 8 AM – 5 PM, Saturday & Sunday from 9 AM – 3 PM.  Opens 3/17/20.
  • Lawrence & Memorial Hospital – Parking lot A of the hospital, 365 Montauk Ave., New London, Monday – Friday from 9 AM – 5 PM, weekend times to be determined. Opens 3/17/20.
  • Yale New Haven Hospital – 150 Sargent Drive, New Haven, Monday – Friday from 8 AM – 4:30 PM.  Opens 3/17/20.
  • Greenwich Hospital – located on hospital property in the lower level physician parking lot off of Lake Avenue (hospital address is 5 Perryridge Road).  Monday – Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM, Saturday & Sunday from 9 AM – 3 PM.  Opened last week.

For questions, please call our Covid-19 Call Center at 203-ASK-YNHH.  The call center is open daily from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Connecticut Hospital Association Announced Information Website

The Connecticut Hospital Association (CHA) has established the following website that contains information about COVID-19 resources, including the phone numbers for hospitals that have established call centers or dedicated lines to answer questions. 

They will continue to update this information as new numbers become available.

Cable Companies Offering Low-Cost Options During Coronavirus Crisis

The New England Cable and Telecommunications Association (“NECTA”) is a five state regional trade association representing private cable telecommunications companies in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.  All NECTA cable/broadband members have a physical presence in Connecticut.

NECTA member companies are committed to ensuring Americans stay connected to the internet as more workers begin to telecommute and students shift to online learning during this ongoing public health crisis.

As such, Charter, Comcast and Cox Communications are offering solutions for workers and families by expanding access to low-income plans, enhancing consumer protection policies, waiving all late fees, and opening Wi-Fi hotspots to Americans who need them.

Charter information please click here

Cox information please click here

Comcast information please click here

Eversource Assures Customers Safe and Reliable Service

Will Continue During COVID-19 Pandemic

Energy company implements workplace policy changes to proactively safeguard the health, safety and well-being of employees and customers

BERLIN, Conn. (March 17, 2020) –As COVID-19 continues to impact communities across its service territory, Eversource is working to ensure safe, reliable service for customers during these challenging times while also protecting the health of its employees and customers. Beginning last week, the energy company implemented several measures to reduce in-person employee interaction in its facilities, including a work-from-home requirement for employees who can do so, as well as enhanced cleaning measures.

“We develop and update emergency response plans on an annual basis and are currently operating under our emergency pandemic plan,” said Eversource Chairman, President and CEO Jim Judge. “Among other things, this allows us to focus our resources where they are needed most – ensuring the smooth and stable operation of our electric, gas and water operations. We are an essential part of the communities we serve across New England, and as a provider of critical services, are committed to supporting our customers and employees during this uncertain time.”

As of last week, Eversource began taking measures to alleviate any financial concerns its customers may face:

  • Suspending customer disconnections for nonpayment Assisting customers with financial programs, such as setting up a payment plan
  • Reminding customers to download the mobile app which allows customers to check their account, pay their bill and much more at their convenience
  • Warning customers of increased scam activity due to the COVID-19 outbreak – customers should be wary of any unsolicited calls that threaten to disconnect utility service and that demand payment by unusual means. Eversource will never ask for personal information over the phone in this manner and does not accept payments via gift cards or other common tools used by scammers.

Also, as previously mentioned, disconnections for nonpayment have been suspended.

From an operational perspective, Eversource is:

  • Continuing to plan for brief and targeted electric outages only when they are required to perform critical work to ensure reliability
  • Reducing non-critical field work in our gas operations that requires access to homes or businesses
  • Making sure all its field resources and support staff continue to be at the ready in the event of a storm or other disruption not related to COVID-19

Additionally, Eversource has enacted measures and guidelines for employees to ensure its workforce remains ready to serve customers and maintain its electric, gas, and water networks, including:

  • Postponing employee travel, canceling large meetings and business gatherings
  • Requiring employees who can work remotely to do so, reducing in-person interaction
  • Creating new procedures – including cleaning protocols – so that employees who must work from our critical facilities can do so safely

Throughout this evolving situation, Eversource is committed to safeguarding the health and safety of its customers, employees and the communities it serves, and ensuring that it continues to reliably provide essential energy services.


Fishbein for Connecticut - Jo-Anne L. Rusczek, Treasurer - Approved by Craig Fishbein
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