Some Connecticut Democrats want next week’s reopening delayed

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Some Democratic state senators called on Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday to delay plans to begin phasing out Connecticut’s COVID-19 restrictions next week, noting some parts of the state are still seeing an increase in cases.

“Reopening is essential — but to do it while the first wave of the pandemic is still raging will not lead to a second wave, it will simply add fuel to the first wave, delaying our eventual recovery,” they wrote to the fellow Democrat.

The letter was released shortly after most of the same lawmakers released one containing a list of questions and recommendations about testing, contact tracing, plans to handle any COVID-19 flare-ups and other matters.

In the first letter, 11 senators said they understand the state’s social distancing measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic have come at a “significant and financial cost” to individuals and businesses.

“But it would be a great loss to everyone to reopen the state without having at least some of our recommended evidence-based protections in place. We could lose all the success that has already been achieved at great sacrifice,” they wrote.

The group asked Lamont how appropriate physical distancing rules will be enforced, how large of a supply of personal protective equipment is considered “adequate,” how is a “high-risk” individual defined, and how much contact tracing of COVID-19 infections is considered sufficient under the state’s reopening plan.

The senators also made suggestions, including conducting sample diagnostic and antibody testing of grocery store users, hospital workers, factory employees, and residents of larger cities and suburban towns. They also believe people over age 60, not 65, should be considered at greater risk for infection.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano said he supports the first reopening date — Wednesday, May 20 — noting the state has the medical capacity to deal with an uptick in cases of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 3,000 people in Connecticut alone.

In the meantime, he said, the state is suffering in other ways because of current restrictions, noting an increase in domestic violence, drug abuse and mental health problems.

“Those are all huge health care concerns,” he said. “Huge.”

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

In other coronavirus-related developments around Connecticut:

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HOSPITAL FLYOVERS

The Connecticut Air National Guard is conducting a statewide flyover Thursday to salute the state’s health care workers.

The guard’s C-130H aircraft flew above hospitals and other health care facilities beginning shortly after 11 a.m. in Torrington, and were to end shortly before 1 p.m. in Enfield.

Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, the adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard, said it’s a way to show “appreciation to the thousands of heroes at the front line battling COVID-19.”

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EDUCATION FUNDING

Connecticut is receiving $111 million in federal coronavirus relief aid to help school districts during the global pandemic.

The Connecticut State Department of Education is developing an application process for school districts, who will have to explain how they plan to use the funds and how remote learning will be part of their plan.

Eligible activities include buying computers and software, providing mental heath services and planning for summer learning, supplemental after-school programs, and specifically helping students with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, students needing English instruction, migrant students, and students in foster care.

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