- Since yesterday’s update, an additional 6 Connecticut residents have tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed positive cases reported in Connecticut to 11. The new cases are residents of Bethlehem, Darien, Greenwich, and Westport.
- To date, 136 tests have been completed in Connecticut: 11 positive and 125 negative. For the first time, this data now includes tests from both the DPH State Laboratory, which has conducted 115 tests, and private laboratories, which have conducted 21.
- SDE has received a waiver from the federal government allowing students who receive meals under the school lunch program to continue receiving those meals during school closures and consume them at home.
- DSS is expanding telemedicine coverage for those under HUSKY/Medicaid.
- CTDOL is announcing modifications to unemployment insurance.
- DECD is working with small businesses to assist with COVID-19 impact.
- PURA has ordered a moratorium on all utility shut-offs.
- Several state agencies are rolling out broad measures to promote social distancing that protect Connecticut residents and state employees.
HARTFORD, CT – As the State of Connecticut continues taking actions in response to the global spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Governor Ned Lamont provided the following updates as of 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020:
Data updates on testing in Connecticut
Since yesterday’s update, an additional 6 Connecticut residents have tested positive, bringing the total number of confirmed positive cases reported in Connecticut to 11. The new cases include a woman in her 30s from Bethlehem, a man in his 60s from Bethlehem, a woman in her 40s from Westport, a man in his 50s from Darien, a man in his 40s from Greenwich, and a man in his 20s from Greenwich.
For the first time, the data being reported now includes tests conducted at both the Connecticut Department of Public Health State Laboratory and private laboratories. In total, the state laboratory has completed 115 tests and private laboratories have completed 21 tests.
Tables containing data about all of the test results completed to date, including a breakdown of the locations and ages of the patients, can be found by visiting ct.gov/coronavirus.
Meals available for students attending schools closed due to COVID-19
The Connecticut State Department of Education has successfully received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing students who are enrolled in schools that are closed due to COVID-19 and receive meals through the school lunch program to continue receiving those meals and for them to be consumed at home, allowing for social distancing. This action is effective immediately.
Similar to the how the summer lunch program operates, parents and students can show up at their school and receive a lunch for the student and other children in the household under the age of 18 and take the lunch home with them. The meals do not have to be consumed on school premises. Only one student in a household must be present to receive multiple meals for every child 18 years old and under in their household.
Expansion of Telemedicine Coverage for Medicaid/HUSKY Health Services
The Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) is implementing changes in Medicaid/HUSKY Health that will support Connecticut’s COVID-19 preparedness and response through increased access to health services. Specifically, for approximately 850,000 enrolled residents, DSS will cover identified telemedicine services, effective today.
DSS is also planning to cover testing for COVID-19; make prescription drug coverage more flexible; and eliminate cost sharing in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (HUSKY B) and for members enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.
At this time, telemedicine coverage includes:
- Real-time video conferencing, as can be enabled with a smart phone, between HUSKY Health members and their health care providers for specific medical and behavioral health services. This will enable many members and doctors to communicate remotely, with Medicaid covering the virtual visit.
- Broadening video conferencing in general to include all primary care type evaluation and management services for medical and behavioral health.
Connecticut Department of Labor modifies unemployment insurance, offers programs
Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Commissioner Westby is suspending the requirement that workers applying for new unemployment benefits directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic be actively searching for work.
Unemployment benefits are available to workers whose employer needs to temporarily shut down or slow down business. Employees who are furloughed by the emergency but expect to return to work can access up to at least six weeks of benefits. Employers reducing hours but not furloughing employees can partner with CTDOL’s Shared Work program, which allows employers to reduce employees’ work schedules by 10 percent to 60 percent and supplement lost wages with unemployment benefits.
Connecticut unemployment insurance already excluded the waiting period other states have removed.
For a document containing a list of Frequently Asked Questions for workers and businesses regarding unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
State working with small businesses impacted by coronavirus
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is working with small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. Specifically, the agency will defer loan payments for all Small Business Express loans for three months. Additional details include:
- The Small Business Express program has approximately 800 outstanding loans with an aggregate loan balance of approximately $110 million.
- The average loan has a five-year remaining term.
- Approximately $5 million in loan payments will be deferred.
In addition, the state agency is making efforts accommodate other businesses with DECD loans that are being impacted.
Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority orders moratorium on shut-offs
In response to a petition filed yesterday by Attorney General William Tong, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has ordered the gas, electric, and water public service companies it regulates to implement a shut-off moratorium and refrain from terminating utility service to residential customers, except for reasons of public safety, for a 30-day period subject to renewal to ensure all residents may safely remain home during the epidemic.
Temporary suspension of certain state agency programs and services
Several Connecticut state agencies have made the decision to temporarily suspend certain programs and services in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to state employees and the public. The closures announced today include:
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)
- DEEP is closing all of its visitor centers and facilities associates with its State Parks that are open to the public and receive significant visitor traffic throughout the day. Examples include the visitor center at Dinosaur State Park and the Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset State Park. The closures are effective immediately.
- DEEP is also immediately suspending large gatherings at all of their facilities and parks. These include, for example, weddings that are held at Harkness Memorial State Park. The agency is typically required to provide custodial and other facilities support for these kinds of events. DEEP is sending cancellation notices to the groups that made reservations for these large gatherings through at least the end of April.
Department of Labor (CTDOL)
- CTDOL is suspending the federal RESEA work-search program effective immediately. This program involves a more intensive process that mandates recipients of unemployment insurance go to the American Job Centers in person and receive one-on-one help. The agency anticipated serving 9,030 people this year. Suspending this program will reduce traffic in the centers and help limit in-person contact with the public. The agency still anticipates reaching its goal of serving 9,030 people this year.
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.