Since yesterday’s update, nine additional Connecticut residents have tested positive, bringing the total number of positive cases in the state to 20. This includes the first cases that have been detected in Hartford and New Haven Counties.
Governor Lamont today signed his third executive order since the enactment of the emergency declarations earlier this week. The order issued today:
o Relaxes in-person open meeting requirements to minimize large gatherings, with safeguards to provide remote public access;
o Allows pharmacists to compound and sell hand sanitizer;
o Waives requirements for pharmacists to use certain personal protective equipment when working with non-hazardous, sterile compounds;
o Authorizes refunds of liquor permit fees for special events that have since been canceled;
o Waives face-to-face interview requirements for Temporary Family Assistance;
o Authorizes the Commissioner of Early Childhood to waive certain licensing and other requirements to maintain and increase the availability of childcare; and
o Authorizes the Office of Health Strategy to waive Certificates of Need and other requirements to ensure adequate availability of healthcare resources and facilities.
· Governor Lamont has directed telework requirements to be eased for certain executive branch state employees, allowing an increased number of employees to work from home. He is also providing executive branch state employees who cannot report to work due to COVID-19 14 days of paid time off.
· Service changes announced for Shore Line East and the Hartford Line.
· The Connecticut National Guard is aiding the state with requests for assistance.
· Internet providers are increasing support to provide internet access to families as schools and businesses are closed.
Data updates on testing in Connecticut
Since yesterday’s update, an additional nine Connecticut residents have tested positive, including seven more cases in Fairfield County and one case each in Hartford County and New Haven County – the first cases detected in each of those counties. This brings the total number of positive cases reported in Connecticut to 20.
A county-by-county breakdown of the positive cases includes:
· Fairfield County: 15
· Hartford County: 1
· Litchfield County: 3
· New Haven County: 1
“The number of cases announced today reinforces for us what we knew was already going to happen: this virus is spreading and it is here in Connecticut,” Governor Lamont said. “I urge all of my fellow residents to take preventative measures like limiting large gatherings and keeping a safe social distance. Our state has taken critical measures to maximize public health and those steps will continue.”
Governor Lamont signs third executive order taking additional emergency actions
On Saturday afternoon, Governor Lamont signed another executive order – his third since signing the civic preparedness and public health emergency declarations earlier this week – that builds upon his efforts to encourage mitigation strategies that slow down transmission of the virus, including by promoting social distancing, and helping the healthcare industry obtain needed medical equipment and other supplies.
“We continue to take proactive, aggressive action to protect the residents of our state – and particularly the communities that are most vulnerable,” Governor Lamont said. “I want to assure the people of Connecticut that the acts we are taking are being done with their safety in mind. I think everyone can agree that using the executive authorities that we were granted for times such as this is the right thing to do.”
Governor Lamont’s Executive Order No. 7B enacts the following provisions:
1. Suspension of in-person open meeting requirements: The order modifies statutes regarding state and local government meetings that are required to permit members of the public to attend in-person and authorizes those meetings to be held remotely by conference call or videoconference, provided that the public is provided remote access to view or listen to the meetings and access materials for the meetings.
2. Waiver of manufacturer registration requirement for hand sanitizer: To increase the availability of hand sanitizer, the order suspends certain statutes regarding manufacturer registration requirements and authorizes the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to allow pharmacists to compound and sell finished hand sanitizer products over the counter to customers. The Commissioner will be required to issue an implementing order prescribing the rules for the composition of the sanitizer.
3. Suspension of garbing requirements for non-hazardous compounding of sterile pharmaceuticals: In response to the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the order allows the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to waive the requirement for pharmacists to use certain PPE when working with non-hazardous, sterile compounds.
4. Refunds for certain liquor license application fees permissible: The order authorizes the Commissioner of Consumer Protection to cancel and refund the application fee for liquor permits to anyone who paid for such a permit but no longer needs it because the event for which the permit was required has been canceled due to the public health emergency.
5. DSS Temporary Family Assistance: The order authorizes the Commissioner of Social Services to waive requirements that applicants for Temporary Family Assistance attend an in-person interview and planning session before receiving benefits.
6. Provisions to ensure adequate childcare resources: To increase access to childcare for families in need throughout the pandemic, the order authorizes the Commissioner of Early Childhood to allow the operation of youth camps, and waive certain requirements for childcare facilities. As many school readiness programs are suspending operations due to the pandemic, the order also allows the Commissioner of Early Childhood to allow school readiness programs to operate for fewer than 50 weeks.
7. Provisions to ensure adequate healthcare resources and facilities: The order allows the Office of Healthcare Strategy to waive certain requirements regarding certificates of need and other healthcare related requirements so ensure that the increased demand for healthcare resources and facilities can be met during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Lamont is grateful to the Connecticut Bar Association, whose land use law section has engaged with the Office of the Governor and Office of the Attorney General to make recommendations in the coming days on the filing, decision making, and related deadlines for municipal and other administrative bodies, and assisted with the open meeting provisions of today’s executive order. The Office of the Governor is also reviewing the concerns of municipal officials about requirements for town meetings to approve budgets, and what adjustments may be needed to allow public participation or input while protecting public safety.
**Download: Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7B
Easing restrictions on telework to permit more state employees to work from home and providing additional paid time off
Governor Lamont has authorized the Department of Administrative Services and the Office of Policy and Management to implement several measures that will increase the state executive branch agencies’ ability to implement social distancing and assist employees who are directly affected by COVID-19 while still maintaining state operations and providing needed services and programs to the public.
Due to the nature of state operations, telework is not an option all for state employees, such as state police, prison guards, child protection social workers, field-based Department of Transportation workers, staff at state hospitals, and many more. For those job classifications that are eligible to telework, several requirements relating to eligibility for telework have been temporarily suspended, giving agency leaders broader discretion to allow executive branch state employees to work from home. Agency leaders are also authorized to consider flexible scheduling among other social distancing strategies.
State employees who cannot telework and cannot come to work due to COVID-19 illness, the need to self-monitor at home, or the need to stay home because of school and other closures will be given up to 14 calendar days of paid time off before being required to use their sick leave or vacation. These measures are intended to protect the health of state employees and mitigate the disruption and economic harm caused by COVID-19.
Service changes on Shore Line East and Hartford Line
The Connecticut Department of Transportation today announced rail service changes on Shore Line East and the Hartford Line as part of the state’s coordinated effort to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. For a list of the service changes, click here.
The changes will go into effect on Monday, March 16, and will continue until further notice.
Connecticut National Guard supporting Department of Public Health requests for assistance
The Connecticut National Guard has been mobilized and is aiding in requests for assistance from the Department of Public Health. Some of the assistance provided so far includes:
· Delivery of ventilators to St. Francis Hospital, Danbury Hospital, and Hartford Hospital;
· Inventory of medical equipment sets for the Mobile Field Hospital; and
· Reconfiguring parts of the Mobile Field Hospital into small tents for possible rapid deployment to hospitals.
Internet providers pledge access to support businesses and residents during COVID-19 emergency
With an increasing number of school closures and families staying home to protect against COVID-19, several internet providers in Connecticut are stepping up to ensure that families have the access they need to conduct business and complete schoolwork.
As part of the Federal Communication Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge launched on March 12, eight internet service providers in Connecticut have committed to not terminating business or residential service, or charging late fees for anyone who can’t pay their bill due to hardship caused by COVID-19. They also have committed to provide Wi-Fi hot spots to any American that needs them. These pledge commitments will be in place for at least a 60-day period.
Connecticut providers that have signed the pledge include Comcast, Frontier, Altice (Optimum), Charter (Spectrum), Cox, Atlantic, Verizon, and AT&T.
In addition to signing the pledge, several companies are providing additional resources. Some of these include:
· Comcast announced a plan to ensure low-income families have internet access that will be effective as of March 16. The benefits include 60 days of free service for new Comcast customers, and higher internet speeds for all qualifying customers. Families can check their eligibility and learn more about available programs at www.internetessentials.com.
· Altice and Charter are offering 60 days of free broadband to households with K-12 and college students who have been impacted by COVID-19 and not already subscribers to their services with no installation fees.
· AT&T is waiving home internet data caps during the entire COVID-19 outbreak.
Businesses and families in Connecticut that need assistance are encouraged to contact their service provider to see what programs they may have available to be supportive during this time.
Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including guidance and other resources, all residents in the state are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The information line is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance and TDD/TTY access for those with a hearing impairment. The hotline only intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider to seek treatment.