|As of today, Friday, May 22, the governor’s office is reporting that a total of 39,640 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among Connecticut residents, up 432 cases since yesterday. Connecticut’s death total from the coronavirus now stands at 3,637 people, another 55 deaths since yesterday. Only 740 state residents remain hospitalized due to COVID, which is 76 less than yesterday. So far, 202,328 state residents have been tested for COVID-19, including 5,881 yesterday.
For a town-by-town breakdown and other COVID-19 statistics, please visit: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus
CVS Opened 13 More COVID-19 Testing Sites in Connecticut Today
In addition to the 12 COVID-19 drive-through self-administered testing sites opened by CVS Pharmacy on May 15, an additional 13 testing sites opened across the state today. As with the previous sites, each of these locations will require patrons to self-administer a test after confirming symptoms or contact at high-risk locations, and will require them to make appointments ahead of time. The additional testing sites will be set up at the following CVS locations, with those receiving tests not allowed to leave cars or enter CVS sites:
- 1657 Route 12, Gales Ferry
- 16 Main Street, East Hartford
- 229 Hope Street, Stamford
- 81 North Street, Bristol
- 690 Wethersfield Avenue, Hartford
- 1938 West Main Street, Stamford
- 1770 Kings Highway, Fairfield
- 2005 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville
- 355 Campbell Avenue, West Haven
- 15 Chesterfield Road, East Lyme
- 47 Lake Avenue Extension, Danbury
- 292 Spielman Highway, Burlington
- 57 Providence Pike, Putnam
DMV Extends Deadlines Again for Credentials Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is further extending deadlines for some credentials that may be expiring. Anything with an expiration date (including licenses, registrations, emissions tests and boat registrations) will be given a another 90-day extension, adding on to a previous 90-day extension. To qualify, they had to expire between March 10 and June 30. In addition to extending the expiration date of DMV credentials, late fees associated with eligible expired credentials will be waived during the time period of the extension for qualifying credentials.
June 1 Deadline Reminder to Apply for Home Heating Assistance
Governor Lamont is reminding Connecticut residents who need help paying last winter’s home heating bills that there is still time to apply to the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program (CEAP). The extended application deadline of June 1 gives families and individuals who are eligible, including those impacted by COVID-19, more time to apply. Connecticut residents are welcome to apply, regardless of whether their home is heated through electricity, natural gas, or a deliverable fuel. Home heating benefits are available for households with incomes up to 60 percent of the state median income (currently $36,171 for a single person and $69,559 for a household of four). For more information on applying for home heating assistance, you can click here and to find the nearest application site, you can visit www.ct.gov/staywarm.
Flags to be Lowered Nationwide Today in Honor of the Victims of COVID-19
Today, all U.S. flags will be flown at half-staff nationwide following a signed proclamation by President Trump directing all U.S. flags to be lowered as a mark of solemn respect for the victims of the coronavirus pandemic. They will fly at half-staff until sunset on Sunday, May 24. Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this time.
Flags to be Lowered to Half-Staff Monday in Observation of Memorial Day
Governor Lamont announced that he is directing U.S. and state flags in Connecticut to be flown at half-staff Monday, May 35 from sunrise until noon in observation of Memorial Day to honor and mourn those who have died while serving. As is customary and unique for this holiday, flags are lowered throughout the duration of the morning and then raised to full-staff promptly at noon for the remainder of the day. Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags, including state, municipal, corporate, or otherwise, should also be lowered during this same duration of time.
Governor Lamont also announced that the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven will be lit up in red, white and blue each night this holiday weekend beginning tonight.
DSS Preparing Online Access to Food with SNAP Benefits
The state Department of Social Services (DSS) is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the state’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) vendor, and participating food retailers to implement SNAP online purchasing in Connecticut. Federal approval of the state’s plan was received May 20, and system testing is scheduled to be completed on May 29. The beginning of online food purchasing is tentatively scheduled for June 2. When activated, enrollees will be able to use SNAP benefits on their EBT card to purchase eligible food items online for delivery or curbside pickup at participating food retailers. Participating food retailers to start are Amazon, including Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh; 12 Walmart stores, and Wakefern Food Corp., which has 22 participating ShopRite stores in-state. Based on successful system testing, online SNAP access is currently scheduled to begin on Tuesday, June 2, with all participating outlets online by June 3. A full schedule and contact points will be announced closer to June 2. For more information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in Connecticut, visit www.ct.gov/snap
Labor Department Notifying Individuals about Potential Extended Unemployment Benefits
The state Department of Labor has announced that it is planning to mail instruction to approximately 77,000 individuals in Connecticut who have been identified as potentially eligible to apply for 13 weeks of emergency extended unemployment benefits. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) included an extension of the 26 weeks of regular state unemployment insurance to 39 weeks through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program. PEUC could be retroactive to March 29, 2020 and will be in effect through December 26, 2020. Weekly PEUC benefits are based on wage history using the same formula for determining state unemployment insurance benefit amounts. It also includes the additional $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit. The notifications will include instructions on steps that potentially eligible claimants will need to follow to receive the emergency extended benefits.
Connecticut Farmers Impacted By COVID Eligible For Food Assistance Program
Connecticut farmers and producers who have suffered financially due to COVID-19 are eligible to sign up for financial aid through the federal Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Earlier this week, it was announced the CFAP will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to American farmers and ranchers. Any producer suffering a 5 percent or greater price decline, or who experienced losses due to market supply chain disruptions, is eligible for this program. Eligible commodities include non-specialty crops, wool, livestock, dairy and specialty crops. Aquaculture, nursery and cut flowers will be considered for relief as well.
The USDA’s Farm Service Agency will begin accepting applications from producers on May 26. For more information, please visit www.farmers.gov/cfap.
Safe Reopening Enforcement Protocols
With this week’s first phase of reopening Connecticut, mitigating the spread of COVID-19 remains an important priority for state leaders. The state has established new enforcement protocols to ensure businesses follow specific rules meant to slow the virus’s spread. Enforcement will be done by local health officials, local law enforcement and municipalities. These agencies can inspect businesses for complying with public health and sector rules in place to prevent spreading or contracting of COVID-19 among the public. In the majority of cases, first violations will result in warnings and education by local law enforcement; more egregious violations will see complaints referred to local public health departments or elected officials, which in extreme cases could lead to business closures. Those needing to report noncompliance should contact local law enforcement or use the online complaint form at ct.gov/coronavirus; if they lack internet access, they can call 2-1-1 to make a complaint.
New Executive Order allows Absentee Votes during CT Primary
Governor Lamont has signed an Executive Order allowing registered voters to vote absentee in the August 11 primary election. This would help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill plans to mail every registered voter in the state an application. They will need to fill out and return in order to obtain an absentee ballot. Polling places will remain open. Connecticut’s 2020 primary was initially scheduled for April 28, but due to the risk of transmission of COVID-19, it was rescheduled to June 2 and then again to August 11.
DEEP releases state parks operation plan for summer
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has released an operation plan outlining current guidelines around the operation and use of state park grounds, trails, beaches, boat launches and similar public areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This plan provides all of the latest information on outdoor recreation offerings administered by DEEP. As the state phases reopening its economy, most state parks remain open, though they retain daily capacity limits, social distancing guidelines and use of face coverings, among other restrictions.
Connecticut approves expansion of free life insurance coverage for frontline health workers
The state has approved frontline health care workers and volunteers to be eligible to receive up to $25,000 of free term life insurance, expediting approval of the expansion of MassMutural policy plan HealthBridge. This offers free guaranteed issue policies to frontline health care workers and eligible volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. MassMutual has committed to providing $3 billion of insurance coverage through HealthBridge to these brave individuals.
June 20 as Target date for Phase 2 of Reopening Connecticut
On the day Connecticut began phase 1 of its reopening plan, yesterday, May 20, Governor Lamont announced what’s expected to be included in Phase 2, which is set to begin June 20. It would allow businesses to reopen if the state meets certain criteria including; declining transmission– fewer than 100-bed net increase in hospitalizations in the last week of phase 1, testing and contact tracing-100,000 tests per week and 50% completed contact tracing within 48 hours, business and social safeguards-rules and regulations disseminated two weeks prior to phase 2, protection for the vulnerable– testing plan to keep workers and priority high-risk communities implemented, and healthcare capacity-fewer than 20% of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients amongst total peak virus bed capacity. If all criteria is met, the following businesses would be allowed to reopen in phase 2.
- Gyms, fitness and sports clubs
- All personal services
- Outdoor arts, entertainment and events (up to 50 people)
- Movie theaters
- Bowling alleys
- Social clubs and pools
- All museums, zoos and aquariums
- Indoor dining (no bars)
Phases 3 of reopening Connecticut would come about 4 weeks later around July 20.
Department of Public Health finds 20 nursing homes deficient in infection control
The Connecticut Department of Public Health today posted that it found deficiency in 20 nursing homes around the state following infection control surveys of all 213 nursing homes in the state. Through unannounced, in-person visits to nursing homes conducted with the state National Guard and federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the DPH monitored these locations, also enhancing staff training and delivering more personal protective equipment.
Four nursing homes were found to not follow cohorting, which means COVID-19 positive residents being grouped together; two were found to provide improper notifications to both the facility and to families; three were based on improper physical distancing between residents; four were found to have other problems; and 11 were found to improperly use or clean PPE.
By law, the impacted facilities can review and potentially dispute these findings, and must come up with corrective action plans approved by DPH. Once those plans are approved, they can be posted online. Deficiency findings and plans of action for individual homes are also available; they are accessible online by searching the e-license website for nursing home inspection documents filed between April 1 and today.