|The Real Story|
I joined Fox 61’s The Real Story this week to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for hospitals and for the 2020 legislative session. Click here to watch.
The Latest COVID-19 Updates
As of Monday afternoon, 415 individuals across the state of Connecticut have tested positive for COVID-19, with approximately 100 new cases confirmed Monday. While testing is increasing – more than 4,500 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted across the state – officials believe that many more than that number have been infected as the virus’s spread outpaces testing capacity.
Ten people have died from COVID-19 as of Monday afternoon, Governor Lamont said. He believes 15 percent of people who catch COVID-19 will require hospitalization and 5 percent will require use of ventilators.
Stay Safe, Stay Home
As of 8 p.m. on Monday, March 23, Governor Ned Lamont’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order will go into place. What does this mean? All non-essential businesses and not-for-profit entities in Connecticut are prohibited from holding in-person functions as part of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak; in other words, as many people should be staying home as possible. Businesses that provide essential services and functions, including healthcare, food, law enforcement and critical aid services, may remain open. Otherwise, all businesses are encouraged to utilize work-from-home and telecommuting procedures as extensively as possible.
Other effects of the latest executive order include allowing non-essential retailers to take remote orders and operate using curbside pickup and delivery services; allowing non-essential businesses to allow minimum staffing levels to handle essential services; extending time periods for fire service personnel examinations to ensure continued success of public safety requirements; and allowing skilled workers to bypass rehiring procedures, in other words allowing skilled health care and public safety professionals requiring minimal training to return to work fighting COVID-19 and to meet critical government staffing needs.
The list of essential businesses considered under “Stay Safe, Stay Home” is extensive and includes infrastructure, healthcare and related operations, manufacturing supply chains, retail businesses, food and agriculture, business services, nonprofits supporting economically disadvantaged populations, necessary construction, safety and sanitation services, essential service vendors and defense operations. The full list is available on the Department of Economic and Community Development website, as is a form for businesses to file for designation as “essential.”
Fighting Back Against Domestic Violence
Professionals fear that increased isolation and quarantining can cause harm to survivors and victims of domestic violence. While current times are tough, domestic violence organizations across Connecticut are ready and waiting to help. Free confidential services are available for those at increased risk or those in danger, including assistance in court. If you are worried and need help, please contact #CTSafeConnect at 888-774-2900 or www.ctsafeconnect.org. Professionals are available for phone calls, internet text chats and emails.
Supporting Our Neighbors and Friends
While the COVID-19 outbreak is concerning for many, we need to keep in mind that we are all in this together. Many children who are off from school are learning at home and cooped up indoors. Please work to make sure they can retain stability during this tough time by driving carefully and being generous with common spaces. Kids are loud by nature; please be patient with noise. If you are aware of any at-risk children, please check up with them regularly. Additionally, many students who rely on school to provide them with meals every day lose that regular access; please support emergency school lunch programs if you can.
As well, we should remember to be good neighbors in these times, especially for our older neighbors over the age of 70. Please call or text your neighbors to keep in touch and make sure they are doing well. If you are able, it may be a useful idea to volunteer to bring them groceries, reducing their risk of contracting COVID-19 and allowing them to stay safely at home. Additionally, if you can, stop by to chat with them! While it will be important to keep socially distant, even chatting through a window, or staying socially distanced from their home, can be enough to brighten spirits and keep all of us motivated while this outbreak continues.
Delayed Tax Deadlines
Last week, we discovered the federal tax filing deadline was postponed three months, from April 15 to July 15. Now, the state confirmed that Connecticut’s tax filing deadline has also been moved to July 15. This allows taxpayers additional time to compile and file. Taxpayers who are owed refunds may file any time between now and July 15.
Quick Resource Guide
With the drastic, fast-moving changes forced by COVID-19, many people likely need help. Here are available resources near you.If you need to find a food pantry near you, click here.If you need information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, click here.For information from the Department of Social Services, click here.To apply for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, click here.To access ConneCT and review information about programs including HUSKY, click here.Access Health CT healthcare enrollment is ongoing through April 2. Click here.To file for unemployment, click here.Attention! COVID-related medical leave from work
The state Insurance Department would like businesses to be aware of recent IRS guidance on COVID-19 – related employee medical leave and new payroll tax credits. The cost of not just the leave — but also of the health insurance during the leave — will be covered.
The U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor have announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, and employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave.
The IRS notes that eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during a child care leave period should a child care provider be unavailable due to the Coronavirus. This credit is equal to two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the child care leave credit.
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including guidance and other resources, visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
Consumers with questions on their insurance can contact the state Insurance Department at email@example.com, or by calling the Consumer Helpline at 800-203-3447 or 860-297-3900.