Latest Video Reveals Newtown Parks Poised To Reopen As State Releases Infrared Thermometers
This week's Newtown Bee COVID-19 Clip — our series of video outreach messages produced in cooperation with First Selectman Dan Rosenthal — brings news about the limited reopening of two local parks. Rosenthal also updates businesses, particularly local restaurants, looking to open outdoor dining as part of a limited statewide reopening initiative beginning May 20.
The latest video also features Newtown Human Services Director Natalie Jackson talking about offering assistance to residents through the community's Helping Hands initiatives, along with soliciting more residents willing to volunteer to help their Newtown neighbors. Newtown Community Center Director Matt Ariniello also joined with a variety of information for residents and center members.
View the May 15 video below:
According to the data, Newtown Rehabilitation & Health Care Center, with 154 beds, reported having 34 laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases that resulted in two deaths. Maplewood at Newtown, with 124 beds, reported 21 laboratory confirmed COVID-19 cases that resulted in five laboratory confirmed deaths, and two additional deaths labeled as "probable" COVID-19-associated deaths.
On Friday, Governor Ned Lamont said the state will be distributing 50,000 infrared thermometers it has secured for small businesses, nonprofits, and places of worship to support safe reopening activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Small businesses, nonprofits, and places of worship that would like to request equipment from the state’s supply of infrared thermometers should fill out a form online to indicate their request. The state has partnered with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and its affiliate CONNSTEP to distribute the thermometers.
They will be delivered to the municipalities in which the organizations are located, and then the municipalities will contact the recipient entities to inform them of a time and location they can pick up their requested equipment.
Entities that would like to request a thermometer can fill out the forms located at ct.gov/coronavirus in the Access to Personal Protective Equipment section, or through the links provided below:
*Small businesses: Any small business in the state that has between 2 and 100 employees is eligible to receive one thermometer per physical address. Eligible businesses seeking to request thermometers should CLICK HERE.
*Nonprofits: Nonprofits located within Connecticut are eligible to receive one thermometer per physical address. To request thermometers for nonprofits, click here.
*Social services and direct care nonprofits may request a thermometer through the process outlined in this memo: CLICK HERE to access.
*Places of worship: Places of worship are eligible to receive one thermometer per physical address. To request thermometers for places of worship CLICK HERE.
This distribution will continue while supplies last.
Late Thursday, Lamont announced that Connecticut businesses eligible to open on or soon after May 20 are required to self-certify to demonstrate they understand and will comply with COVID-19 rules and regulations set by the state. The self-certification process is quick and available online at business.ct.gov/recovery.
Businesses under Phase 1 of Connecticut reopening plans include restaurants (outdoor dining only); hair salons and barbershops; offices; retail and malls; and museums and zoos. Sector rules for reopening a business were published on May 9 and can be accessed for review by CLICKING HERE.
Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Commissioner David Lehman said his agency and the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group are working closely with businesses and community groups to ensure they have the best possible information and access to resources to reopen safely and efficiently over the coming weeks.
“Businesses want to take all the precautions necessary to protect their employees and their customers and we want to ensure they have access to all the support that is available,” Lehman said.
Upon completion of the certification process, companies are encouraged to download a safety signage and badge for display at their place of business and/or on their website. Utilization of the materials is strictly voluntary.
The Newtown Economic & Community Development Office is developing a site for visitors to learn which local food service establishments are offering what services (curbside, outdoor dining, etc). The database will be periodically updated as restaurants are approved by the Land Use Agency for outdoor dining.
View the site by CLICKING HERE
The agency advises patrons to contact related businesses/restaurants before visiting to inquire about operating hours or appointment policies.
BCG Draws Lawmaker's Ire
On May 14, State Representative JP Sredzinski, whose 112th District covers the southern area of Newtown, released a statement regarding the $2 million no-bid contract awarded to Boston Consulting Group (BCG) by Governor Lamont to advise in Connecticut's reopening efforts:
"The process of reopening the state has lacked transparency from the start, and with the awarding of this multi-million-dollar contract to an out-of-state consulting group, the administration has hit a new low. Much like the governor's 50-person 'reopen Connecticut' council without legislators, the consulting firm he just hired will not be subject to Freedom of Information Act statutes, meaning the whole reopening process will be conducted from behind closed doors. What else is going on that we don't know about?
"What's more, these consultants don't understand the struggles of Connecticut's small business owners, many of whom have been crushed by the coronavirus crisis and are struggling to stay afloat. When the crisis is over, they will be the backbone of the economic turnaround, not big-money consultants.
"Connecticut's reopening requires an open-door, inclusive approach," Sredzinski said. "That means that the people who have been most affected by coronavirus – business owners and residents – need to be brought to the table. We have yet to see a genuine attempt by the administration to do this."
The Newtown Bee previously reported the governor's response to criticism over utilizing BCG to assist the state as it grapples with multifaceted reopening challenges. Lamont said the organization will be concurrently working with other neighboring states including New York and Rhode Island, and retaining the firm will ensure there is regional stability and collaboration as reopening plans commence.
He added that while Connecticut could form more committees and try to manage the necessary work to that end internally, BCG would be able to more quickly develop, share, and implement best practices here that are already working elsewhere.
"I'm hearing from small businesses they want to get going, and I want to get going in a thoughtful way," the governor said. He said the firm has a specialty in supporting COVID-related responses, testing strategies, track and trace, along with economic openings and closings.
Lamont continued fielding questions about the decision during his daily press briefing Friday, saying the organization also represents the seven-state council to restart the economy that includes Connecticut, adding the firm will play an important role as the state deactivates its Reopen Connecticut volunteer team.
"[BCG] will be there working right alongside our different departments and commissioners lending us the expertise as we ramp up implementation," Lamont said.
Resources For Residents, Businesses
On May 14, US Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn) and several senate colleagues touted new legislation to help small businesses, nonprofits, and workers weather the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and support a safe reopening.
On a press conference call, the Senators laid out the details of their proposal, the Rebuilding Main Street Act, which would expand the existing work share program to allow employers to share their payroll costs with the federal government while receiving grant help to cover other fixed costs like rent and needs for reopening safely, like cleaning and protective equipment.
The Senators’ proposal encourages and expands work sharing — an existing program supported by the CARES Act that still has far too much untapped potential — and provides additional support for employers and employees struggling during this time.
A fact sheet on the Rebuilding Main Street Act is available by CLICKING HERE
“While we’ve been able to provide critical relief to some small businesses, we know that it’s not enough," said Senator Murphy. "We need bold and innovative proposals to help small businesses weather the storm and rebuild Main Street America once we’re out of this pandemic. That’s what this proposal does."
Anyone in crisis or facing issues making ends meet or experiencing stress or anxiety can also call the 211 infoline or consult its companion website 211ct.org.
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ, other guidance and resources, and a way to ask questions, Newtown residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
The Newtown Bee is continuing to provide and mirror information and messages coming from local and state agencies on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. Newtown residents can get more details by visiting Newtown’s own COVID-19 web page, at newtown-ct.gov.
Please check in regularly, share, and follow the newspaper’s hyper local coverage at newtownbee.com through the remainder of this public health emergency.