Connecticut bans gatherings of over 250 people amid virus

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont signed an order Thursday banning gatherings of 250 people or more to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while personally recommending people avoid even smaller crowds.

The Democrat’s order, which also waives the requirement that schools be in session for 180 days — giving districts flexibility with closures related to the virus — comes as additional people have tested positive in the state, including a child.

“This is highly infectious, COVID-19,” Lamont said. “I think 250 will be our limit. I’m recommending stay out of any groups of 100 or more. I just think that’s the safe way to go.”

Lamont’s order affecting large gatherings applies to social and recreational activities, including but not limited to concerts, movie screenings, performances, community events and recreational activities. The prohibition will remain in effect until April 30, unless modified by another order. Violators could face criminal penalties.

A total of six people in Connecticut have tested positive for the virus, state officials said, as more schools around Connecticut announced closures to try to slow the spread of the illness. As of Thursday afternoon, 19 districts had closed schools or are scheduled to close schools in the next day or two, according to the state’s education commission.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, COVID-19 can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

State epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said Thursday he expects 10-20% of Connecticut residents could be infected in the next two months. If there’s a second wave of infections in the fall, he said 70% of the state’s population could be infected.