On Monday CT Governor Ned Lamont held a press conference to announce the latest updates on COVID-19 in Connecticut.
Covid-19 related hospitalizations in Connecticut are below 100, which is the lowest in months.
Connecticut has tested over 10% of the state’s population.
The positivity rate for Connecticut is under 1% as of Monday, and under 1.2% over the previous 5-6 days.
“These are numbers we can be proud of, especially when you see what’s going on around the rest of the country,” Lamont said.
Also, Connecticut’s hospitalizations are on the decline, while Lamont noted there are four states where the numbers are rising – Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. He said the rising numbers in those states might correlate to their approaches to reopening.
“We reopened carefully and only when our metrics were in the right direction,” he said. “Since our major reopening on May 20 our numbers continued to go down.”
“Admissions have been flat in the last few weeks. Fewer and fewer people are being hospitalized.”CT Governor Ned Lamont
Lamont said in southern states not only is the positivity rate increasing, but hospitalizations are as well.
He added that earlier in the day he had been part of a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence’s Covid Task Force, where he learned many people were testing positive in other states, and there was a significant cohort of young people who are obese or have diabetes.
“Stay on your guard,” he warned. “And, by the way, the number of seniors in these other states hospitalized is also going up. I’m paid to worry, and I also tell you this because I said early on that you ‘hope for the best and plan for the worst.’ We look for what’s going on in those southern states.”
Lamont said the task force meeting revealed Ohio and parts of Wisconsin were also ramping up.
He surmised why the ‘big four’ southern states had ramped up their Covid-19 numbers.
“Perhaps they opened a little too early,” he said, adding, “Now they’re beginning to close down. Texas has said it was closing down bars that have been open a month. Connecticut never opened up its bars.”
Lamont said Texas was reducing their indoor restaurant capacity to 50%, to where Connecticut is.
“We strongly recommend that if you can get outdoor seating, that’s where you want to be,” he said.
Lamont said that for the first time, the policy in Texas is that when a municipality requires it, people must wear a mask when they’re inside a public building.
“This is something Connecticut has done from the beginning,” Lamont said. “I’d like to say that these other states have come to where we are.”
Lamont commended Connecticut’s neighboring states, but added, “I do get anxious because there is a very narrow margin for error, and when I hear the Governor of Arizona say, ‘In just two weeks, our positivity rate went from 4% to 14%,’ – that’s the hockey stick. It reminds you of what risk there is.”
Lamont also gave an update on the 14-day quarantine requirement for travelers from states with higher rates of Covid-19 that he announced last week in conjunction with the governors of New York and New Jersey.
“We didn’t want a lot of people flying in from those highly infected states. I think that was the right move,” he said.
The Governor said that a high school senior from Chappaqua, NY, just over the border from southern Connecticut, had celebrated in Florida before coming back north to attend her graduation ceremony.
“Before you could say it, there were four people infected – then more than that. And they had to track and trace including what stores they went into. There is a very narrow margin for error. Thank goodness Connecticut has been on the right side of this,” he said.
Lamont said Vice President Pence’s Covid-19 task force also noted that 585,000 people have been laid off from across the country from state and local governments in the month of May alone.
“That’s why it’s so important all governors, from both red and blue states, we’ve said give us some certainty in terms of what we can expect in terms of aid and testing,” he said.
Lamont said that Vice President Pence pointed out the US is making innovations in terms of testing, including wastewater surveillance, which is a leading indicator of Covid-19.
“We’re able to take samples from the waste water test and get a broad indication of what’s going on in New Haven, for example,” he said. “The waste water test has passed the smell test.”
Lamont said Connecticut would roll out wastewater surveillance to all of its municipalities for an indication of what to expect in terms of hospitalizations.
And, he said, “pool testing” is promising and that Connecticut had already done about 50,000 tests in the past week.
The Governor gave an update on Connecticut’s quarantine plan for travelers from states with more than 10% positivity. He said Connecticut had reached out to airports in the state, as well as airports in New York including Kennedy and LaGuardia, to share the message that travelers from those states must quarantine for 14 days.
“If you’re an essential worker, get yourself tested and have that piece of paper so you can get to work quickly,” he said. “Texas put in place a stay at home order. It’s not just that we put in place a quarantine order.”
Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona said a 50-page report for reopening of K-12 education in the fall had been rolled out earlier in the day and would go to superintendents and stakeholders for comments.
He said the plan was guided by input from the Connecticut Health Dept.
Cardona said for the fall, arrangements would be made for families to continue online learning if they choose.
Asked how that would impact staffing, he said districts would develop their own plans. “There’s not always one plan,” he said. “We’re looking for best practices.”
Mr. Cardona said Connecticut had been working closely with Boards of Education, superintendents and teachers unions on the plan for the fall school reopening, and that the 50 page plan was just a start.
“Just last Thursday the American Academy of Pediatrics supported in-school learning,” Cardona said.
“They emphasized anything that gets kids back it he classrooms is a plus,” Lamont said.
“They worry about the social isolation of kids who have been alone for months,” he added. “We’ll make accommodations for those who don’t want to come back. They went on to say that how far apart your desks are is secondary to wearing masks and cohorting.”
“We’ll open our doors to students when parents are comfortable,” Cardona said, adding, “A process has to be put in place to make sure class sizes are reasonable. It’s an option to let parents know it’s not a requirement for the entire year.”
Cardona said the State would give districts a chance to process the plan. “They’ll communicate to us the percentage of students and staff who won’t be returning.”
Asked what would happen of a student were to test positive for Covid-19, and whether an entire class would be quarantined for 14 days, Mr. Cardona said, “The CDC has clear guidelines. It’s highly recommended the decisions are made with local health department input.”
“Every situation is a little different, and it depends on whether there are siblings, and what type of contact that student has had,” he said.
June 25, 2020