Governor Ned Lamont's conference call this evening with municipal leaders was "sobering, but highly informative," said First Selectman Chris Spaulding.
Shortly before the call, the Department of Public Health placed restrictions on visits to nursing and convalescent homes, and the State implicitly relaxed rules to allow financial services employees to work at home.
The governor also announced that a second Connecticut resident tested presumptive positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus. At press time, details had not yet been released, but Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano told reporters the patient is being treated at Bridgeport Hospital.
Schools cancel travel, Sacred Heart goes online
Earlier in the day, Weston Public Schools announced that a trip to Spain has been canceled and that no school-sponsored out-of-state travel will occur. In-state travel plans are being reviewed. Regional athletics trips are still on, but cannot involve air travel.
In Fairfield, Sacred Heart University will conduct classes online starting Wednesday through March 29. The school has also canceled all major campus events. Residence halls and dining areas will remain open, with an enhanced cleaning program.
No State travel, students shouldn't either
This morning at Bristol Hospital, Mr. Lamont said he has ordered State employees to suspend out-of-state travel and to avoid holding large meetings.
The governor also advised students not to travel for spring break, and discouraged large public gatherings. In a conference room crowded with reporters, he said "I hope the chair next to you is empty." None were.
Mitigation and "community transmission"
Dr. Spaulding said the governor, on the conference call with municipal CEOs, emergency management directors, and service chiefs, alluded to his own conversations with other governors, several of whom, he said, "wish they had done more sooner."
The First Selectman said he was "encouraged by the caliber of people" managing the crisis in Connecticut and by Mr. Lamont's candor. He is also encouraged that direct contact with the governor will occur regularly, and that State authorities are "working hard to make sure emergency responders get everything they need."
Dr. Spaulding said the governor reiterated recent statements by Public Health Commissioner Renée Coleman-Mitchell: that we have moved from containment to mitigation, and that we are now in "community transmission" of COVID-19.
In Bristol, the governor also announced that the State's Public Health laboratory in Rocky Hill has received a second test kit from the CDC, which means the lab can now test nearly 1,200 cases.
The governor said LabCorp facilities have become fully operational to test for COVID-19, and Quest Diagnostics should be able to do so soon. Tests by these facilities must be referred by a physician in advance. There will be no walk-ins.
Nursing and convalescent homes
Outside Connecticut, nursing and convalescent homes have experienced clusters of COVID-19 infections. As a preventive measure, the Department of Public Health issued a directive this afternoon that visitors can only enter these facilities if the person being visited is in hospice or end-of-life care. Also, visitors are required to wear personal protective equipment.
The Health Department said the directive was issued after consultation with the Connecticut State Long Term Care Ombudsman.
Financial services employees
Today, the Connecticut Department of Banking advised the mortgage industry and other licensed financial services companies that no action will be taken if employees who normally are required to work from a licensed location instead work at home.
Working from home must be related to avoiding COVID-19, individuals must maintain their license, no activity can be conducted at home with the public, and the licensee must continue to supervise the employee.
March 8, 2020: "Wilton Resident 'Presumptive' Postive for COVID-19"
March 7, 2020: "Bridgeport Physician Tests Positive"
March 6, 2020: "Spaulding Convenes Coronavirus Task Force"
March 4, 2020: "Lamont Urges Following New CDC Guidance"
February 27, 2020: "State, Town, Schools Prepare for Coronavirus"