Gov. Ned Lamont announced this afternoon the appointment of the CEOs of three of the largest hospital systems in Connecticut – Hartford HealthCare, Nuvance Health and Yale New Haven Health – to serve as co-chairs of the governor’s Health System Response Team.
Collectively the health systems represent about 70% of the state’s hospitals, Lamont said.
In coordination with the Connecticut Hospital Association and the state’s other hospitals, the health care leaders will advise the governor, the Department of Public Health and the rest of the state’s Emergency Support Functions in the Unified Command structure on the proper allocation and distribution of needed resources, supplies, and personnel, throughout the duration of the public health emergency.
The move followed an announcement earlier today of a decision to bring together public and private hospitals throughout New York state into a joint system as needed to handle the crisis.
Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom; Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks; Nuvance Health President and CEO Dr. John Murphy; and Connecticut Hospital Association President and CEO Jennifer Jackson were all in attendance.
Connecticut now has 2,395 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 36 deaths. The governor said that out of 2,700 tests conducted since yesterday, 578 resulted in positive diagnoses – an infection rate that appears to be slower than that in neighboring New York.
Still, he said, “New Haven County is now catching up quickly,” with Fairfield County in number of infections.
A county-by-county breakdown includes:
|County||Laboratory Confirmed Cases||Hospitalized Cases||Deaths|
|New Haven County||373||176||6|
|New London County||24||5||0|
|Pending address validation||176||0||0|
The lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) continues to be a very real concern; Borgstrom said Yale New Haven Health probably has enough on hand for the next 10-14 days.
Lamont said that the state has received “another small delivery” of PPE from the federal government, including 111,000 N95 masks and 146,000 surgical masks, as well as a promised 50 ventilators, which “we haven’t seen yet.”
Flaks said today’s meeting of the response team resulted in three fundamental developments: the impending arrival of a FEMA hospital consisting of 250 additional beds, to be located in either Fairfield County or New Haven County; the establishment of more ancillary facilities where most needed; and the collaboration itself. “We’re one team,” he said.
Murphy said the collaboration between the hospitals should help as the situation develops; expectations are that as cases pass their peak in southern Connecticut, more cases will be seen further north. The hospitals plan to share equipment as needed and when possible, he said.
Lamont said the hospitals collectively are on target to reach the 50% increase in capacity that he had requested by the end of this week. “That is lightspeed,” he said.
Borgstrom said that Greenwich Hospital now has 80-90 COVID-positive patients — “pretty significant for a hospital that size” — while Murphy said that Norwalk Hospital probably has about 75, and estimated that another “several dozen” are awaiting test results.
“We are repurposing parts of the hospital as ICUs that weren’t ICUs a month ago,” he said.
Meanwhile, Connecticut’s two tribal casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, voluntarily closed on March 17 for a two-week period – which ends on April 1. While the casinos have not officially announced their plans, Lamont told NBC Connecticut earlier today that he expected them to remain shut for the time being.
“We’ve had good conversations with the casinos,” Lamont said. “Obviously, they’re a sovereign nation but they stepped up, they did the right thing. They closed down their casinos going on two weeks ago now. We’re certainly urging them, like the President, to continue this at least for another month.”
DOUR UNEMPLOYMENT PREDICTION
More than 47 million people could lose their jobs by the end of June, according to the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve. Branch economist Miguel Faria-e-Castro estimates the nation could see an unemployment rate in the second quarter of 2020 of 32.1%, well above the Great Depression’s peak of 24.9%.
Faria-e-Castro noted several caveats, however, including that many businesses may send workers home with pay instead of laying them off outright, and that his forecast does not include the potential effects of the federal government’s economic stimulus bills, which include payroll support measures for small businesses and changes to unemployment insurance.
“Moreover, one can argue that the expected duration of unemployment matters more than the unemployment rate itself, especially if the recovery is quick (and so duration is short),” Faria-e-Castro wrote. “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”
TRUMP SIMMERS AS VIRUS INFECTIONS GROW
On Sunday, President Donald Trump extended the national social distancing guidelines, originally set to expire tomorrow, for another 30 days.
“The better you do, the faster this whole nightmare will end,” said Trump, who last week said he wanted the nation “opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” indicating he believed the worst of the crisis would be over by April 12.
Trump said he is finalizing a new plan and strategy, with details to be announced tomorrow.
This morning, Trump found time to speak with the “Fox & Friends” show to respond to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s remarks over the weekend that “as the president fiddles, people are dying.”
“She’s a sick puppy – that’s a terrible thing to say,” Trump said. “My poll numbers are the highest they’ve ever been because of her.”
He also explained that his actions have saved the country from “deaths like you have never seen before.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC this morning that New Orleans and Detroit are poised to become the nation’s next hot spots.
New Orleans “is in that area where it’s worrisome because the spike and peak and dynamic of the curve are starting to resemble a bit of New York,” Fauci said. “It’s a smaller city obviously, so they can’t be totally comparable. But the dynamics of the outbreak in New Orleans are worrisome.
“We’re also worried about Detroit,” he added, saying that city “is starting to show some signs that they’re gonna take off.”
As of 5 p.m. today, the U.S. has 159,184 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,945 deaths, while globally there were over 775,000 positive cases and close to 40,000 deaths.