There were 59 new COVID-19 deaths reported since Friday, bringing the death toll to 5,020. Hospitalizations increased by 81 to total 1,098, the Department of Public Health (DPH) reported.
Residents testing positive for the virus totaled 117,295 an increase of 4,714 since Friday’s report. The state reported 3,253,650 tests completed, up 106,821. The state’s positivity rate is 4.4%.
On Monday, New Haven County had the highest number of hospitalizations with 369, followed by Fairfield County with 335 and Hartford County with 279.
For a county-by-county breakdown of cases, go here and click on “Daily Data Report.”
As of Nov. 6, the state rolled back some restrictions to contain the spread of COVID, including limiting outdoor and indoor private gatherings to 10 people.
Under these new restrictions:
• Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity indoors; maximum of 6 people per table and must close dining rooms by 10 p.m. Takeout and delivery is allowed after 9:30 p.m.
• Event venues are limited to 25 indoors, 50 outdoors.
• Performing arts and movie theaters maximum capacity 100 people.
• Personal services, such as hairdressers and barber shops, remain at 75% capacity.
• Religious gatherings must adhere to a 50% capacity, or a maximum of 100 people. Virtual services are encouraged.
DPH issued a statewide public health advisory urging residents to limit any non-essential trips outside the home between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in order to reduce the risk of the transmissions of the virus. Essential workers are exempt from the advisory.
New $10,000 Fine For Violating COVID Rules
Businesses that violate COVID restrictions can be fined $10,000 per violation, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday night (Nov. 24). The governor said he is taking this action after receiving feedback from municipal and public health leaders, according to a press release. The order takes effect Thursday (Nov. 26). The fines can be issued by local health directors or other municipal employees.
Other penalties that remain in effect include:
• $100 for not wearing a mask in public;
• $500 for organizing a gathering exceeding recommended size limits;
• $250 for attending an event that exceeds recommended size limits.
The state’s rolled out its new contact tracing app. You can learn about it and sign up here: https://portal.ct.gov/coronavirus/covidalertCT/homepage
The governor said on Monday (Nov. 30) that coronavirus vaccine should be shipped to the state by mid-December. The first groups to receive the vaccine would be health care workers, front-line workers at care facilities and nursing home residents.
Also, on Nov. 30, Moderna announced that it has also applied for emergency approval from the FDA for its coronavirus vaccine. Pflizer had previously applied for the same approval. Moderna recently said that is vaccine is 94.5% effective; Pfizer’s is about 90% effective. Here’s the latest on the state’s vaccine plans from CTNewsJunkie.com
Community Hot Spots Climb
There are 150 communities now designated as COVID-19 “hotspot communities” (shaded in red on map).
For the week of Nov. 18-24, there were 68 new deaths in nursing homes. There were 413 new cases reported, including 29 at Greentree Manor of Waterford, 27 of Woodlake at Tolland and 23 at Autumn Lake Healthcare, Waterbury and 23 at Evergreen Woods, North Branford. Among nursing home staff, for the week of Nov. 18-24, there were no staff deaths reported for the 12th week in a row. New cases among staff totaled 303. See the full report here.
For assisted living facilities, there were 5 deaths reported for the week of Nov. 12-18. You can view the full report here.
Starting Nov. 1, nursing homes, assisted living and managed care facilities must test staff on a weekly basis, DPH ordered. This is the same policy that the state had in place in the Spring and later changed.
Lawmakers and health officials are forming a panel to review regulations that govern nursing homes. The panel will examine whether the state should put in place legal requirements for staffing levels, testing, among other issues, CTMirror reported.
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/
In September, DPH ordered the closure of Three Rivers Healthcare Center in Norwich. The order came weeks after an infection-control inspection by DPH found the facility to be in “immediate jeopardy,” meaning the violations were serious enough to risk immediate harm to residents. The 60 residents were moved to other nursing homes, according to a report in the New London Day.
Mathematica Nursing Home Report
An examination of the state’s response to COVID-19 in long-term care facilities recently found that state officials were so focused on the virus’s potential impact on hospitals that they largely neglected guidance from nursing home officials early in the pandemic.
“Early planning and response efforts focused on hospital capacity, with nursing homes viewed primarily as a backstop to alleviate high demand for acute care beds,” the report found.
The report, prepared by Mathematica Inc. at the request of the state, looked at the state’s response as the coronavirus tore through nursing homes in the spring and early summer. According to the report, 72% of the state’s 4,432 deaths as of July 30, 2020, were residents of long-term care facilities.
Mathematica, working with the UConn Center on Aging, interviewed 132 people from July 27 to Sept. 10, including state agency staff, facility administrators, trade association representatives, labor representatives, legislators, direct care staff working in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, family members of residents, and advocacy groups.
Among the report’s recommendations:
- Place full-time infection control experts in nursing homes.
- Increase minimum required staffing levels.
- Ensure that all nursing home staff have access to appropriate PPE.
- Explore ways to reduce duplicate case reporting to reduce the risk of data errors.
Read the full report here.
New Visitation Policy At Nursing Homes
Indoor visits are now allowed at nursing homes as long as there has been no new onset of COVID cases in the last 14 days and the facility is not currently conducting outbreak testing, DPH announced on Sept. 28. Indoor visits will be suspended if there is a positive COVID case among a resident or staff, DPH said in its order.
DPH said that facilities can limit the number of visitors per resident and can limit visitor movement inside facilities. You can read DPH’s order here: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Coronavirus/20200925-DPH-Order-rescinding-restrictions-on-visitors-in-nursing-homes-residential-care-homes-and-c.pdf
Traveler Quarantine Measures – Updated Weekly
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 Nov. 24, the Virgin Islands were added to the list, none removed. New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island are exempt from the list because of its “interconnected nature of the region and mode of transport between the states,” the governor said recently.
Those above the threshold are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the territories of U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.
Rules For Gyms, Fitness Centers
On Nov. 20, the governor signed an executive order that includes requiring patrons at gyms and fitness centers to wear masks, “with no exceptions.”
Below are the rules for fitness centers. Each facility is issuing its own rules, based on the guidelines:
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:
• 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.
You can file a complaint against a business that you feel is in violation of COVID-19 safety rules here.
Go here for the most up-to-date state information.
Below are the guidelines used by the state to safely reopen schools for in-person learning.
Information is available here.
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.
COVID Vaccine Preliminary Plan
On Friday (Oct. 17), the state sent a preliminary plan for distribution of an approved COVID vaccine to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The preliminary plan outlines a framework for who would be first in line for the vaccine: health care workers who are at risk of COVID exposure, some essential workers and people who are at high-risk of becoming severely ill if they contract the virus. Read the Hartford Courant’s story here.
The governor’s Vaccine Advisory Group, co-chaired by Dr. Reginard Eadie, president Trinity Health of New England and Dr. Diedre Gifford, acting commissioner of DPH, will fine tune the plan, set priorities for distribution of the vaccine and communicate information about the vaccine to state residents.
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 Sept. 30, Lamont extended the prohibition on evictions to the end of the year and doubled the rental assistance relief program from $20 million to $40 million. The program provides up to $4,000 to landlords on behalf of approved tenant applications. 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.
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.
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 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.