Connecticut to decrease COVID-19 testing, death toll at 21

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut plans to decrease testing for the new coronavirus, giving priority to the very sick, health care workers and front-line responders, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.

Lamont said the state will instead rely on people self-diagnosing and self-quarantining for 14 days if they have any symptoms.

He said because of the scarcity of personal protective equipment, the state is prioritizing the use of nurses for the treatment of those critically ill rather than testing.

“If you have any symptoms at all, assume it’s COVID-19 and go home and stay there for 14 days,” he said.

Lamont also urged New Yorkers and others from out of state to stay home and avoid traveling to Connecticut unless absolutely necessary. He ordered those who do come to the state to self-quarantine until they can be sure they are healthy.

Given the state’s proximity to the COVID-19 hot spot of New York City, Lamont said President Trump’s push to reopen the country by Easter is “bad, bad advice.”

“You’re never going to get this economy going again until we get this public health crisis behind us,” Lamont said. “So I think it’s wrong to say we can rush people back to work and set artificial dates, like he did.”

He also said gatherings in Connecticut should be limited to no more than five people.

Lamont said the state on Thursday had 125 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 21 fatalities. He said 19 of those deaths were people over 70 years old and 15 were people over 80.

The virus usually causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

Here are some other COVID-19 developments in Connecticut on Thursday:


Lamont submitted a request Thursday to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, seeking a presidential major disaster declaration because of the pandemic.

The Democrat is requesting public assistance for all eight of the state’s counties. If approved, the state could receive additional resources to support child care, crisis counseling and other needs.



State judicial officials said they were closing three more state courthouses in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Courthouses in Torrington, Rockville and Danielson, which are less busy than others, will be closed until further notice, said Judge Patrick Carroll III, the chief court administrator.

Officials will move cases from Torrington to Waterbury, from Rockville to Hartford and from Danielson to New London.

The state now has nine courthouses open for limited purposes, as well as juvenile courts in Hartford and Bridgeport and the state Supreme Court building.



Connecticut businesses and nonprofits harmed by the cononavirus pandemic can begin applying for short-term, no-interest loans under a new program administered by the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, details of which were released Thursday.

Small businesses and nonprofits with 100 or fewer employees that are in good standing with the Department of Revenue Services and have been profitable prior to March 10 can apply for one-year, no-interest loans of as much as $75,000 to help with cash flow.

Businesses and nonprofits eligible for the $25 million Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program may apply online and request a six-month extension.

Companies involved in real estate, multilevel marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis, and firearms are not eligible.

New Haven on Thursday announced its own “economic resiliency program,” dubbed Together New Haven.



Connecticut’s Department of Correction said prison inmates produced more than 3,300 cotton fabric face masks during the first two days of full-scale manufacturing, which began Monday.

The agency said Thursday it estimates at least 1,200 to 1,400 masks can initially be produced daily. That number may grow as the production process is streamlined. The masks are intended to be used in emergency situations when N95 respirators or surgical masks are not available.

The agency’s Correctional Enterprises of Connecticut unit operates several production sites within facilities that manufacture items such as highway signs, furniture and mattresses.



Connecticut’s budget office is estimating the state will receive $1.4 billion from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

The figure is based on information from the Federal Funds Information for States service. A spokesman for the state’s Office of Policy and Management said the agency is analyzing how much Connecticut will receive from other parts of the federal relief package.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy said there’s nearly $1.2 million in federal grants to help Connecticut health centers in emergency planning and response to the coronavirus pandemic.



Leaders of several shoreline towns in Connecticut joined the the governor in urging people with summer homes in their communities to self-quarantine for 14 days when they arrive to prevent the spread of the virus.

East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said there are reports of many people from New York and other places returning earlier than normal to seasonal homes in town.

“We welcome them back,” Nickerson said in a video message on the town’s website. “But we would like to impose a 14-day self-quarantine to everybody that is coming from another area, whether you’re a snowbird coming back home or whether you’re from New York and … you’re lucky enough to have a summer place here.”

Officials in Old Lyme, Stonington and other coastal towns also are asking returning seasonal residents to self-quarantine for 14 days.



The court at Yale’s Payne Whitney Gymnasium is being lined with hospital cots to be used if needed by members of the university community who become infected with the virus.

The school says the beds would be used as overflow for the school’s health center to house staff, students or faculty who are stable but need to remain isolated from high-risk family members.

Yale Health Director Dr. Paul Genecin says Yale would monitor their vitals and supply food and hydration while they recover. The school says patients who are severely ill would be treated at Yale New Haven Hospital.

(Copyright (c) 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)