Connecticut reported its lowest number of one-day deaths due to the coronavirus Monday, as the state prepares for a second round of business openings Wednesday.
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Gov. Ned Lamont reported the COVID-19 numbers on the same day that he announced an executive order calling for accountability measures within the state police -- including a ban on neck holds that restrict a person’s oxygen.
The order also requires the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection to review any instance when state police use force on a suspect, including electronic stun guns and police batons. Lamont wants every state police officer to wear a body camera and every marked state police cruiser to have a dashboard camera.
The governor also spoke about plans to reform the makeup of the state police. White males account for 80% of state police, Lamont said Monday, but he noted that progress is being made. The current class of new troopers is made of up 60% white men and includes more women and people of color.
Members of the state Senate Public Safety and Security committee praised Lamont’s efforts. “We no longer look at each other as a problem but that we police in the sense of service,” said state Sen. Dennis Bradley (D-Bridgeport). Bradley said that the executive order is just a start and that he and his legislative colleagues must work together to bring reform to city and town police forces, which aren’t under the governor’s authority.
Lowest Number Of New Deaths Associated With COVID-19 Announced
Lamont announced three new COVID-19-associated deaths Monday -- the lowest number of deaths reported since data has been tracked.
Statewide COVID-19 deaths reached 4,204, according to the public health data released Monday. Lamont pointed to a 2% infection rate, citing 7,255 new tests reported in the last day and 147 new cases, according to public health data. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased by two to 203.
“This is no victory lap, this is no mission accomplished,” Lamont said at a news conference outside the governor’s residence. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
Hartford Hospital Takes Down COVID-19 Alternate Care Tent
A tent that stood ready if the need for beds exceeded the capacity of state hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic began to come down Monday morning. The tent at Hartford Hospital was never used because efforts to flatten the curve of the virus’s spread against hospital resources were largely successful in Connecticut.
Officials said the hospital is scheduling elective procedures and the emergency room is safe for all patients as doctors remain prepared for an evolution of COVID-19.
“COVID is still here. We’re very cognizant of that, and we’re taking all the precautions needed for that,” Dr. Adam Steinberg, vice president for Medical Affairs, Hartford Region, said at a morning news conference. “But we’re also going back to our normal state of activities and procedures that you would have expected prior to COVID.”
Steinberg said the hospital is concerned with the health and safety of patients and visitors as well as health care providers. He praised his staff.
“We are extremely proud of the adaptability of our staff,” Steinberg said.
Doctors urged people not to let the pandemic prevent them from getting treatment for other medical conditions.
New Haven Reviews Regulations For Phase 2 Reopening
New Haven officials held a webinar Monday ahead of Wednesday’s reopening of several businesses in the city under the governor’s Phase 2 guidelines. Restaurants can start allowing indoor dining, and nail salons, tattoo studios, gyms, amusement parks and museums can reopen.
In addition to explaining state regulations for businesses reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, city officials said they will be checking up on businesses.
“Expect unexpected visits,” said Maritza Bond, the city’s director of public health.
Businesses were told they must have clear social distancing markers and proper signage displayed. Ventilation must move air out of windows with ceiling fans drawing air upward rather than pushing it down on customers, Bond said. Employees should be trained in all regulations with a single manager and program administrator if city or state officials visit for an inspection. Customers not wearing a face covering should not be served -- once seated, diners can remove their masks.
Employers must also provide their workers with proper PPE before they can reopen. Bond said businesses that cannot comply with regulations should remain closed until they can.
Bond echoed Lamont’s recent comments that consumers’ confidence in businesses being safe for return will be key to restarting the state’s economy and the survival of individual businesses.
Lamont Praises Supreme Court Ruling Protecting LGBTQ Workers
The rainbow flag, a symbol of LGBTQ equality, flew over the state Capitol Monday as Lamont praised the U.S. Supreme Court ruling confirming it is unlawful to discriminate against LGBTQ workers under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Nobody should be fired because of who they love or the gender in which they identify. I am proud to live in a state that explicitly extended these civil rights protections to LGBTQ workers many years ago, and now we can celebrate that federal law prohibits this type of discrimination,” Lamont said it a statement.
In a 6-3 decision, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor in the ruling.
“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” Gorsuch wrote in the court opinion.
UConn Officials Investigate Alleged Racism On Social Media
Officials at the University of Connecticut are investigating social media posts from at least one incoming student and at least one current student that appear to share “disturbing and racist sentiments,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said Monday.
Reitz confirmed the investigation after a tweet from UConn President Tom Katsouleas. The exact content of the social media postings was not made immediately clear by school officials.
In a Twitter post Monday, Katsouleas said that “UConn is committed to racial justice and respect for all, and is reviewing the posts to assess potential action.”
The head of the state’s flagship public university said the investigation will include speaking directly with the individuals responsible for the posts, and that “until that process is complete, the university will not allow … these individuals to enroll.”
“To be clear, the university has the ability to rescind admission and will do so if necessary to uphold our expectations of each other and the values of our community,” Katsouleas said.
Protesters Remain Camped Outside Bridgeport Police Station
Protesters organized by the Justice for Jayson group remained in tents outside the Bridgeport police station Monday after setting up camp Saturday. The protesters have said they will stay there until Monday’s city council meeting, and they are asking the council to hear their concerns in person.
The group was formed in 2017 after 15-year-old Jayson Negron was shot and killed by Bridgeport police officer James Boulay on May 9, 2017. Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt cleared Boulay of any wrongdoing in January 2018.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said he supports peaceful protests. “There are still feelings of pain from losses, Bridgeport’s included,” Ganim said in a statement. “I have no problem with people expressing themselves. I hope though, as we go through this, constructive ideas will come.”
Connecticut Public’s Patrick Skahill contributed to this report.