There was 1 new COVID-19 death reported since yesterday, bringing the death toll to 4,496. Hospitalizations are up by 2, for a total of 70, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.
Residents testing positive for the virus total 56,160, an increase of 136 since Monday’s report. The state reported 1,477,478 tests completed, up 12,044. The state’s positivity rate is 1.1%, after a slight spike last week.
For the week of Sept. 6-12, people aged 20-29 had the highest number of COVID-19 cases, followed by people aged 10-19, the data show.
For a county-by-county breakdown of cases, go here and click on “Daily Data Report.”
COVID Vaccine Advisory Group
Gov. Ned Lamont announced the formation of the Governor’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group to set priorities for distribution of a vaccine available to the general public by April 2021. The group’s co-chairs are Dr. Reginald Eadie, president of Trinity Health of New England and Dr. Diedre Gifford, acting commissioner DPH.
The working group will include vaccination experts, state lawmakers, labor representatives, emergency management officials and representatives of highly impacted communities. Here is CTNewsJunkie.Com’s report: https://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/20200921_lamont_creates_vaccine_advisory_board/
Fines for Violating Limits on Gathering Sizes, Failure to Wear Masks
On Sept. 14, the governor outlined new fines for those who fail to wear a mask in public, and for those who violate the size limits (25 people indoors; 100 people outdoors) on events:
• There will be a $100 fine for not wearing a mask in public;
• A $500 fine for organizing a gathering exceeding recommended size limits;
• And a $250 fine for attending an event that exceeds recommended size limits.
Lamont said businesses will be responsible for their employees, and individuals will be responsible for their own actions. The fines will take effect sometime this week, Lamont said.
DPH Orders Closure Of Three Rivers Healthcare Center, Norwich
DPH last week ordered the closure of Three Rivers Healthcare Center in Norwich.
The approximately 60 residents at the nursing home are expected to be transferred to other Connecticut nursing homes. Those who have or are suspected of having COVID-19 will be housed with other COVID-19 patients. To read the New London Day story go here:https://www.theday.com/local-news/20200916/updated-state-to-order-closure-of-norwich-nursing-home
Two weeks ago, DPH appointed attorney Katharine B. Sacks as a temporary manager to oversee Three Rivers Healthcare Center in Norwich, where 22 residents and six staff were infected with COVID-19. Three residents have died. One resident remains hospitalized.
Sacks was chosen to oversee the nursing home as part of a compliance agreement between the DPH, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the home’s owners, JACC Healthcare, after the home was cited by DPH for infection-control violations. All employees will answer to Sacks, according to the agreement.
On Aug. 31, DPH issued an “immediate jeopardy” finding for Three Rivers, meaning the violations were serious enough to risk immediate harm, the most-severe federal penalty.
Extension Of Gov’s Emergency Orders
The governor’s emergency powers have been extended to February 2020. On Sept. 8, Lamont extended all COVID-19 emergency orders including legal immunity for nursing homes and hospitals, until Nov. 9.
New Traveler Quarantine Measures – Updated
Travelers from “hot spot” states must self-quarantine for 14 days OR produce a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to arrival. They must also complete a form upon entry to CT. The form asks for their name, date of birth, state of origin, how long they will stay in CT and where they will be staying. The form also asks for contact information. Forms are available at ct.gov/travelform. Essential workers traveling on business will remain exempt from these requirements.
As of Tuesday (Sept. 22), Arizona, Nevada, Rhode Island and Wyoming were added to the advisory list and none were removed.
Those above the threshold are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the territory of Guam.
In late June, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey announced the travel advisories.
With schools reopened below are the guidelines used by the state to safely reopen for in-person learning.
Information is available here: https://data.ct.gov/Health-and-Human-Services/CT-School-Learning-Model-Indicators-by-County/rpph-4ysy
The state released a more detailed plan on reopening in late June. You can read the 50-page plan here: https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/Press-Room/Press-Releases/2020/Adapt-Advance-Achieve
Each district designed their own reopen plan. The state recommendations include:
• Grouping students by the same class/group of students and teacher (into a cohort) so each team functions independently as much as possible. Consider this methodology by grade levels.
• Placing students in cohorts is strongly encouraged for grades K-8, and encouraged where feasible for grades 9-12.
• Reviewing building space and making use of available rooms, such as gymnasiums and auditoriums, to maximize social distancing, consistent with public health guidelines in place at that time.
You can read the initial state guidelines here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/COVID-19/Reopening_Slides.pdf
Nursing Homes: New Visitation Policies; Update On Cases, Deaths
On Aug. 27, Dr. Deidre S. Gifford, Acting Commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, announced new visitation policies for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Facilities have not allowed in-person visits since March, when the pandemic surged.
On general visitation: nursing homes need to develop facility-wide visitation policies; visits can occur more than once per week; requires facilities to assess the psychosocial needs of each resident and develop individualized visitation plans; extend the minimum time for window visits from 20 to 30 minutes; and facilities should allow visitations five days per week, including a Saturday or Sunday.
Compassionate care visits can take place indoors and do not require social distancing, touching is allowed, as long as personal protective equipment (PPE) is supplied by the facility, the order states. You can read more about the commissioner’s new order here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Coronavirus/20200827-DPH-order-expanding-nursing-home-visitations.pdf
For the week of Sept. 9-15, there were no new deaths in nursing, and there were 12 new cases reported. A total of 2,849 nursing homes residents have died according to DPH data as of July 21, representing 64% of all COVID-19 deaths.
Among nursing home staff, for the week of Sept. 9-15, there were no staff deaths reported for the sixth week in a row. New cases among staff totaled 33.
For assisted living facilities, there were no new deaths reported for the week of Sept. 9-15, keeping the total deaths at 379. You can view the full report here.
In July, Lamont said hired Mathematica Policy Research to conduct an independent, third-party review of the response to COVID-19 within the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The report recommended longer staff shifts; preparing for a second virus wave; and limiting the number of staffers with jobs in multiple nursing homes. The Connecticut Post’s Ken Dixon has the story: https://www.ctpost.com/news/coronavirus/article/State-report-Nursing-home-workers-should-not-15492447.php
In September, C-HIT reported on plummeting occupancy rates in nursing homes. You can read our report here: http://c-hit.org/2020/09/16/pandemic-deals-another-blow-to-nursing-homes-plummeting-occupancy/
Mental Health Services
On Aug. 27, the state provided information on services available to state residents who are feeling stressed during the pandemic. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, outlined the services and programs that are available to help. Below is a chart of some services provided:
Housing And Rental Assistance
On Aug. 20, Lamont extended the prohibition on evictions to Oct. 1. In addition, the governor said that he is doubling funding for rental assistance from $10 million to $20 million. The assistance program is funded by the Coronavirus Relief Fund and provides payments to landlords on behalf of approved tenant applicants. Interested tenants can learn more on the state Department of Housing website or by calling 1-860-785-3111 during regular business hours.
On Sept. 2, Lamont announced a collaborative effort among state agencies, private businesses, and nonprofits aimed at addressing the needs of at-risk residents during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing them with food boxes is expanding in several communities across the state. The Salvation Army and United Way have partnered with DoorDash to expand the delivery of food boxes to three communities, including Bridgeport, Torrington, and Waterbury.
The program is simple: people in need of food call United Way 2-1-1 and express their need. Local Salvation Army pantries to prepare food boxes, and DoorDash delivers the food boxes.
Now in its third week, the program has more than quadrupled the number of boxes delivered since the start. Food boxes are filled with non-perishable foods, including canned goods, applesauce, rice, beans, peanut butter, tuna, and granola. Recipients are those identified as homebound, high-risk individuals, typically over 65 years of age.
Emergency SNAP Benefit
Another emergency Supplement Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefit – about $153.00 – will be distributed to 109,600 CT households not currently receiving the maximum benefits allowed for their household size, the governor announced on Sept. 9.
The state Department of Social Services will allocate the $16.5 million in benefits to nearly half of Connecticut’s SNAP participants on Sept. 17. The additional benefit was authorized by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. Read about the additional benefit and who qualifies in the governor’s press release here: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2020/08-2020/Governor-Lamont-Coronavirus-Update-August-4
What’s Open Outdoors
The governor said that Phase 3 of the state’s re-opening plan “is taking a pause” and will not start as scheduled on July 20. That means that bars will remain closed, capacity inside restaurants will remain at 50% and outdoor gatherings will remain at 100 and inside gatherings at 25 “for the foreseeable future.”
Phase Two Re-Opening
On June 17, the second phase of the state’s re-opening began. Restaurants are now providing indoor dining, with restrictions, in addition to already providing outdoor dining, curbside pickup and delivery services.
Other entities that opened this week with guidelines include: amusement parks, hotels/lodging, indoor museums, zoos and aquariums, bowling lanes and move theaters and other indoor recreation sites, libraries, outdoor events, nail salons, tattoo parlors, and spas and fitness facilities. Barber shops and hair salons are now open.
New guidelines also permit private (in home) gatherings of up to 25 indoors and 100 outdoors.
Below are the rules for fitness centers. Each facility is issuing its own rules, based on the guidelines:
Starting in July, high schools will be allowed to host outdoor graduations, with restrictions. Each school district can come up with their own plan for graduation.
Houses of worship are now allowed to have indoor services at 25% capacity, or no more than 100 people. Earlier guidelines recommended holding services outside at a safe distance.
Today (July 6,) summer school programs can begin. (Schools remain closed for the remainder of the year.) Overnight camps are prohibited but day camps can operate beginning Monday (June 22).
Below are guidelines for libraries:
The governor’s Reopen Connecticut report outlines the steps being taken to ensure a safe reopening of the state, including a ramp up of testing, sufficient contact tracing and an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.
The guidelines for businesses are here:
• Capacity limit of 50% for most businesses that reopen.
• Strict cleaning and disinfection protocols in all settings.
• Those who can work from home should continue to do so.
• Those in high-risk groups (co-morbidities) and those over the age of 65 should continue to stay safe and stay home.
• Face masks should continue to be worn in public at all times.
• Social gatherings will be restricted in accordance to the governor’s order.”
You can file a complaint against a business that you feel is in violation of COVID-19 safety rules here: https://appengine.egov.com/apps/ct/COVID-19/Reopen-CT-Business-Complaint-Form
Go here for the most up-to-date state information.
NEED A TEST?
A number of hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers are offering COVID-19 testing. If you need a test go to 211.ct.org to find a location near you. https://www.211ct.org/
After receiving criticism from governors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week rolled back its new guidelines on who should be tested for COVID-19. The CDC is now saying that people who come into contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients could be tested, even if they do not show symptoms of the virus. Earlier this week, the CDC had recommended that testing was not necessary for people who have been exposed to the virus but have no symptoms.
Connecticut encourages anyone exposed to the virus to seek a free COVID-19 test.
Wear A Mask
Residents are still required to wear cloth face coverings, or some type of mask, in public when unable to maintain a safe social distance of about 6 feet. The covering needs to shield the mouth and nose. Individuals are required to use cloth face coverings in taxis, livery, ride-sharing services, buses, or while in a transit stop or waiting area. Read the governor’s order here.
Financial Help For Undocumented Families
The state will be giving $2.5 million to about 2,500 undocumented families to help cover the cost of rent, the governor announced recently.
The funding will be supplemented by $1 million from 4-CT, a philanthropic organization created to provide emergency funds during the pandemic. The program is designed to provide rental assistance to people who are ineligible for similar aid by the federal CARES Act. The state Department of Housing will administer the program, which is under development.
There are approximately 140,000 undocumented people living in Connecticut, making up 3.8% of the population and representing 4.9% of the workforce, according to the governor’s press release. Approximately 190,000 people, including 60,000 children, live in households where there is at least one undocumented person, the press release said.
Feeling anxious or depressed? You can call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Connecticut (NAMI-CT) hotline at 860.882.0236. Workers are available to talk live, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NAMI Connecticut offers more than 70 FREE, confidential support groups across the state that are peer-led. They are facilitated by people who have experience with mental health issues. During the current COVID-19 crisis, the support groups have moved online: https://namict.org/find-support/support-groups/
A virtual Family Support Group is held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.; visit https://namict.org/find-support/support-groups/ for details.
The World Health Organization has information here: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
John Hopkins University & Medicine’s experts in global public health and infectious diseases has compiled a website to help advance the understanding of COVID-19. View the website, which includes an interactive map of cases worldwide: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms appear between 2 and 14 days after exposure. If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC recommends calling your doctor.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington has a forecasting model of COVID-19 cases here.