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COVID-19 LATEST: Stamford Hospital building to be used as care site; SBA loan program off to rough start

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Gov. Ned Lamont announced this afternoon that since Friday’s update, an additional 362 Connecticut residents have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total to 5,276. To date, more than 22,029 tests have been conducted in Connecticut among both state and private laboratories.

Approximately 1,033 people have been hospitalized. Statewide fatalities now stand at 165, with Fairfield County accounting for 86 of those deaths.

A county-by-county breakdown includes:

County Laboratory Confirmed Cases Hospitalized Cases Deaths
Fairfield County 2,824 475 86
Hartford County 726 184 26
Litchfield County 182 15 5
Middlesex County 100 19 4
New Haven County 1,024 324 29
New London County 57 10 3
Tolland County 91 3 10
Windham County 31 3 1
Pending address validation 241 0 1
Total 5,276 1,033 165

 

FEMA today notified the state that it has approved the Lamont administration’s request to add housing for survivors of domestic violence in the reimbursement guidelines it previously approved for Connecticut, which authorized the state and municipalities to receive a 75% reimbursement for the costs associated with providing noncongregate housing first responders and health care workers who temporarily need a place to live separate from family or roommates, and also for those who are homeless.

AROUND THE STATE
• The National Guard today began to repurpose
the Wheeler Building on Stamford Hospital’s Bennett Medical Center campus as an alternative care site.

Stamford Health
Stamford Health CEO Kathleen Silard in front of Bennett Medical Center. File photo

“We are pleased that the governor has mobilized the National Guard to assist us in further preparations for COVID-19,” said Stamford Health President and CEO Kathleen Silard.

“The Wheeler Building was decommissioned just three years ago,” she added, “and is an ideal alternative care site because it was previously a hospital and is next to our new hospital on the Bennett Medical Center campus. We are working tirelessly to prepare for every eventuality because that’s what it takes to provide the best possible care for our community.”

No date for completion of the work has been provided.

•The governor has declined a request from the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments that he allow the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos to offer online gambling while they remain closed.

Connecticut has not legalized online gambling, but it has not formally criminalized it either.

But in his letter to Council of Governments Chair Mark Nickerson – which was copied to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, who operate the state’s tribal casinos – Lamont stated that such a move would require amending the state’s compacts with the tribes. That in turn would need the approval of the Connecticut General Assembly – which is not expected to return until at least April 28 – and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“Authorizing online gaming and enabling consumers to more easily access gambling is a significant policy decision that has not yet been embraced or acted up by our legislature,” Lamont wrote. “Doing so at a time when so many Connecticut residents are in financial distress would be a particularly significant policy decision to make without legislative approval.”

The casinos will remain closed through at least mid-April.

• As of Friday afternoon, the state’s public schools have served more than 1 million meals under the emergency meals programs the State Department of Education launched last month in response to Lamont’s order for classes at schools to be canceled statewide. A total of 128 school districts are serving meals at 407 locations.

SBA LOAN PROGRAM FACING OVERWHELMING DEMAND
Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza said late Friday on Twitter that 17,503 small businesses – those with 500 or fewer employees – had filed applications through local banks for loans totaling more than $5.4 billion.

Carranza

Roughly 2,300 loans worth $889 million have been processed since the program launched yesterday morning, Carranza said, but there are reports of confusion as companies rush to apply for rescue loans from the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program.

Part of the $2 trillion CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program offers small businesses loans totaling 250% of their average monthly payroll in 2019 to pay eight weeks of salary, benefits and other eligible costs. The loans will be forgiven if, by June 30, a business restores its full-time employment and salary levels to what they were as of Feb. 15.

Many of the nation’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co., said they weren’t yet ready to take loan applications, in part due to a lack of guidance from the federal government.

Warnings of processing delays and system failures have also been issued in the face of the overwhelming response, which appears to be akin to — though on a much larger scale — that experienced by Connecticut’s own Recovery Bridge Loan program. That initiative was suspended one day after launching due to the high volume of applications, and has yet to relaunch.

“We are reminding people that this is a brand new program that is literally still under development as of today,” said Connecticut Department of Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez. “It may take a few days for the SBA program to be fully capable of processing the expected volume of applications.”

President Donald Trump said today that he would ask Congress for more money for the program if the $349 billion runs out.

As of this writing, there were roughly 302,000 positive cases and  8,200 virus-related deaths in the U.S., and over 1.19 million positive cases and more than 64,000 deaths globally.

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