Gov. Ned Lamont has declared civil preparedness and public health emergencies as Connecticut braces for the spread of the coronavirus.
This afternoon I will sign declarations enacting civil preparedness and public health emergencies in #Connecticut so that we can take specific actions in response to #COVID19. I'll have more updates to announce at a 3PM news briefing.
— Governor Ned Lamont (@GovNedLamont) March 10, 2020
Lamont said he hopes the emergency declaration helps ramp up COVID-19 testing in the state, as more positive cases emerge in both Massachusetts and New York. He said the declarations address two main priorities. First, “they may allow some consumers and businesses whose travel has been impacted by the outbreak to benefit from travel insurance and other related coverage,” Lamont said in a release.
He also said the state’s insurance department is “notifying insurance companies that the governor has signed the declarations and will be monitoring their compliance with the terms of their policies.”
Second, Lamont said, the “declarations also trigger price-gouging laws and make clear that municipal leaders have emergency powers to mitigate disasters and emergencies.”
So far, two Connecticut residents have tested positive for the disease.
One of those is a woman in her 60s who lives in Bethlehem. Lamont said she had contact with a child in the Region 14 district, which includes Woodbury and Bethlehem.
“It was recently announced they’re going to be pausing the school system as well throughout that region, Region 14,” Lamont said. “Just as a precaution. Just to give people confidence that we are doing everything we can to keep your families safe.”
Region 14 Superintendent Joseph Olzacki said in a letter Tuesday that all buildings in the district will be closed March 11-15 for cleaning.
Olzacki said the at-risk student and their family show no signs of illness.
State education Commissioner Miguel Cardona told reporters Tuesday that decisions on school closures remain in the hands of local authorities.
“It’s important to remember the decision to close buildings, and which buildings to close, are based locally at this point and with the direction of the local [Department of Public Health],” Cardona said.
State officials said they hope to test between 50 and 60 people per day by next week.
This post has been updated.