Latest Video Message Includes Human Services Perspective As Governor Issues New Restrictions
The latest in a series of video outreach messages with First Selectman Dan Rosenthal also included some brief perspective from Town Human Services Director Natalie Jackson.
While Rosenthal reminded residents about park and playground closures and the importance of supporting local businesses, Jackson briefly reviewed new practices in place at the FAITH Food Pantry, and the availability of services for residents experiencing high anxiety about the continually developing COVID-19 pandemic.
These video outreach messages are being produced by the first selectman in partnership with The Newtown Bee. View the latest COVID-19 clip by CLICKING HERE
At the state level, Governor Ned Lamont reported that the number of positive coronavirus cases confirmed in the state has risen to 96 — 69 in Fairfield County. He sadly also announced the state’s first COVID-19 related death — an 88-year-old male who passed away after being recently admitted to Danbury Hospital.
“He had been a resident of an assisted living facility in Ridgefield,” Lamont said in a related statement. “I want to thank all of the doctors, nurses, and medical professionals at the hospital who did everything in their power to save his life. I also want to acknowledge the dedicated professionals from hospitals and medical centers throughout our state who continue to work on the front lines and treat patients, in addition to all of the support staff who are providing critical assistance through this trying time.
“We know that people of an advanced age and in certain conditions are among the most at risk of this disease, however I urge everyone in Connecticut — regardless of age or condition — to take an active role in doing their part to reduce the spread of this virus throughout our communities so we can protect one another,” Lamont added.
At the top of the latest press conference, the governor called for a moment of silence in memory of the victim and sent condolences to the victim’s family.
A few moments later State COO Josh Geballe noted that over 700 residents have already been tested with the 96 positives previously reported. The first case in Middlesex County was also logged, along with a total of 11 in Hartford County, ten in New Haven County, and five in Litchfield County.
Among other points made at the March 18 press conference:
*Commissioner of Education Miguel A. Cardona said he was actively seeking a federal waiver regarding standardized assessments. He is also awaiting word on how the state will handle pending SAT testing, while strongly maintaining the state’s school year is not canceled. “We hope to welcome students back, but we are continuing to take precautions,” Cmmsr Cardona said.
*Gov Lamont and COO Geballe also called for all non-emergent elective medical procedures, including those at dental offices, to be temporarily halted, and for those facilities to donate any available personal protective supplies to a state clearinghouse for redeployment to those on the front lines fighting the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.
*Lamont also called for younger people to curtail all public gatherings of ten or more people. “I can’t tell you the difference that social distancing makes,” Lamont said. “To the invincibles out there — this is for your safety, your parents’ safety, your grandparents’ safety.”
*The governor said the state is working on plans for temporary health facilities specifically for Connecticut’s homeless population.
*Lamont said Commissioner Beth Bye and her Office of Early Childhood is working to ensure there are enough local daycare centers open with space available so medical, emergency, law enforcement, and other critical state workers have a place for their children to be taken care of so they can continue working.
*Department of Public Health Commissioner Renee D. Coleman-Mitchell said her team is monitoring the first COVID-19 case at a nursing home in Stafford Springs at the Evergreen Health facility, and that a DPH team has been dispatched there to review mitigation and infection control procedures to mitigate [virus] spread. The DPH commissioner also said there are now 11 coronavirus testing sites open across the state with more scheduled to come on line in the coming days.
In related news, St Vincent’s Medical Center (Hartford Health Care) will be activating a Specimen Collection Center for COVID-19. This center is servicing individuals based on a physician’s order and a scheduled appointment; no walk-ins will be allowed.
If a person is feeling sick they should contact their physician immediately and receive an order from said physician. The Center will be set utilizing a hospital’s campus facility located on Fairview Avenue, and it will be operating from 9 am to 4 pm daily.
Access Health CT, Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace has announced it will hold a special open enrollment for uninsured state residents between March 19 and Thursday, April 2. The effective date of coverage for all enrollments during the NEW Special Enrollment Period will be April 1, 2020.
The only way to sign up for this NEW Special Enrollment Period is by calling 855-365-2428. Individuals who experience a Qualifying Life Event (e.g. loss of coverage due to job change or unemployment) or qualify for Medicaid/Children’s Health Program (CHIP), can ALWAYS enroll online, in-person or over the phone and all help is free.
Four State Coalition
Lamont earlier Wednesday joined Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, and Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey announcing that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf is joining their coalition to implement a regional approach to combatting COVID-19.
The four governors then announced indoor portions of large retail shopping malls, amusement parks, and bowling alleys in the four states will close by 8 pm on Thursday, March 19.
This is an expansion of the orders the three governors from the tri-state area issued Monday. That order — which Pennsylvania has also adopted — limits crowd capacity for social and recreational gatherings to 50 people.
The governors also announced restaurants and bars would close for on premise service and move to take-out and delivery services only. The governors also temporarily closed movie theaters, gyms, and casinos.
Governor Lamont said, “This is a fast moving and quickly evolving public health emergency, and making these kinds of important decisions as a region makes more sense than a patchwork approach. We will combat this virus by working together and remaining consistent across our borders and I’m proud to work with my fellow governors in this effort.”
Governor Wolf added, “Pennsylvania is working aggressively to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. A regional approach to this threat is smart, and I am grateful for all of the work by my colleagues in neighboring states. Joining these leaders will help Pennsylvania mitigate the spread of COVID-19 with a coordinated approach.”
New Federal Action
Late Wednesday, March 19, US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement after the US Senate passed a coronavirus relief bill that included emergency paid leave, enhanced unemployment aid for workers, and additional funding to state Medicaid programs. On Saturday morning, the US House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 363-40.
“It is astounding that this bill sat in McConnell’s lap for days before we passed it. Had we moved on this earlier, there would have been thousands of parents and workers in Connecticut who could have stayed home from work while still being paid,” Murphy said. “While people are stepping up to slow the spread of coronavirus, this epidemic has created real struggles that require a full, coordinated response from the federal government.
“Families throughout Connecticut are worried about whether they can get food on the table for their families and pay bills. Anything, and everything, Congress can do to help those in need during this crisis should be done ASAP. Now is not the time to play politics, and I hope we can come together to pass another economic stimulus package as soon as possible,” said Murphy.
This week, Murphy laid out his requests for the phase three economic stimulus package that the Senate will vote on next. On Monday, Murphy took to the Senate floor urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring up the legislation immediately. Last week, Murphy and US Senator Richard Blumenthal held a press conference in Hartford urging the House and Senate to swiftly pass legislation to aid workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Blumenthal remarked, “After this approval — finally — vital emergency support will go to families and businesses understandably fearful about their lives and livelihoods. This bill puts first families, workers, and small businesses. It expands paid sick leave and unemployment insurance, offers no-cost testing for patients, and protects access to nutrition programs for struggling families.”
“Our next step, already underway, must be immediate relief to families struggling to pay rent or for groceries, workers out of jobs, and small businesses possibly closing their doors. People need help — some facing potentially life or death decisions — and they need it now,” Blumenthal said. “Only swift, strong action can help prevent lasting damage from this crisis. The truth is that we cannot overcome the economic crisis if we fail first to stop the spread of this deadly disease. Some are talking about sweetheart industry bailouts when we should be focusing on building hospital capacity and fully funded sick leave.”
View the latest Newtown COVID-19 video outreach message below: