Lamont Administration Makes Statewide Effort To Prevent Spread Of Coronavirus | Connecticut Public Radio
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Lamont Administration Makes Statewide Effort To Prevent Spread Of Coronavirus

Mar 9, 2020

Officials said Monday the state is working with hospitals, school districts and employers to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The news conference came just hours before Connecticut reported its second presumptive positive test for the virus in a state resident.

The second case involves a patient from the Bridgeport area.

“Nobody can be totally be prepared for COVID-19, a virus that’s changing every day and the infections are accelerating every day,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during the news conference at Bristol Hospital. “But we’re working together on a collaborative basis to do everything we can.”

On Sunday, the state confirmed that a Wilton man had become the first state resident with a presumptive positive test for the virus. He’s being treated at Danbury Hospital.

Meanwhile, a Connecticut hospital employee who lives in Westchester County, New York, tested positive last week, marking the first known presence of the virus in the state.  Another New York-based physician who had made rounds at Bridgeport Hospital also tested positive for the virus.

“Infections know no state boundaries,” Lamont said. “We’ve had our first case, and it will not be the last.”

Lamont emphasized using “obvious prudence” when it comes to health and safety precautions and recommended people visit primary care doctors before heading to the emergency room or urgent care clinics. State employees are under a travel ban.

“We have notified our state employees, no travel out of state -- not necessary,” Lamont said. “Anybody thinking about coming into the state, contractors, try to do that by teleconference, try and do that by telephone. Let’s limit what our exposure is.”

Lamont said his administration is evaluating whether state-sponsored gatherings or meetings involving more than 100 people should be postponed or shifted to teleconference.

While state employees have clear travel restrictions and college students have been cautioned against taking spring break trips, the Lamont administration is leaving it up to the Board of Regents to decide on travel by collegiate sports teams. For local school districts, the state is deferring to school superintendents to make the call for school closures.

“Prior to any declaration of [a] public health emergency, those decisions ultimately are the decision of the local school districts of actions they want to take,” said Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services. “The consequences and cost of closing a school are significant in terms of the follow-on impact in the community to parents that can’t go to work. Many of our children in our schools rely on the meals that they get in school to be able to be fed every day, and so that really becomes a last resort.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal called Lamont’s response “calm, vigilant and vigorous” but criticized the Trump administration’s response to the crisis.

“It is too little and very late, inexcusably late,” Blumenthal said. The state received a testing kit that’s stocked with 600 tests.

“This one kit is simply the beginning of what needs to be done for testing,” Blumenthal said. “We cannot know the rate or the root of infection without prompt and thorough testing. You can’t combat this disease if you don’t know its extent.”  

Blumenthal is also wary of the potential economic effects the spread of the disease could have.

“We are facing a threatened economic whirlwind,” Blumenthal said. “We need to aid businesses, especially small businesses as they face possible sick leave on [the] part of their employees. Small businesses should not be asked to shoulder the burden without aid from the federal government.”

According to Blumenthal, $1 billion in small business loan subsidies was set aside from the $8.3 billion emergency coronavirus aid package President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday.

For state updates, visit ct.gov/coronavirus and Connecticut Public’s resource page. For general questions, residents can call the 24-hour state hotline at 2-1-1.