A continued decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations is giving hope that the state is on the downside of the coronavirus curve, Gov. Ned Lamont said today, even as positive cases rose by over 800 and another 125 deaths were recorded.
Another 2,541 tests have been conducted, resulting in an additional 821 positive cases, to bring those respective totals to 74,038 and 23,921. Hospitalizations fell by 70 to 1,877, while the 125 additional deaths brought that total to 1,764.
Fairfield County recorded another 219 positive cases and another 47 deaths, bringing those totals to a respective 10,227 and 662.
Stamford still has the most positive COVID-19 cases in the state, with 2,223, followed by Bridgeport (1,640), Norwalk (1,390), New Haven (1,324), Danbury (1,299), Waterbury (1,062), Hartford (821), West Haven (620), Greenwich (614), Hamden (516) and Stratford (477).
The state could record 14 consecutive days of declining hospitalizations by sometime next week or the following – a key indicator that it could be safe to begin reopening the economy, Lamont said. Nevertheless, he noted, “flareups” continue to be seen in the state and around the country, even in places on the downside of the curve. “This crisis is not behind us,” he said.
Increasing restaurants’ involvement with the food chain – by preparing and delivering meals to food banks and the like – is one possible method of helping those establishments out in the short-term, the governor said, acknowledging that restaurants and bars will likely be among the last businesses allowed to reopen for inside service.
Although some small businesses fear that their larger competitors may be given preference when it comes to economic support and reopening, Lamont noted that Dan Meiser, chairman of the Connecticut Restaurant Association, and Timothy Phelan, president of the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, are on the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group to speak to those issues, among others.
Addressing health care concerns
Kathy Silard, president and CEO of Stamford Health, said that facility has seen a “teeny bit of a downturn” in coronavirus patients, and that for the first time since the outbreak began, Stamford’s non-COVID patients outnumber its COVID-positive population, by roughly a 155-120 majority.
Silard also praised the Connecticut National Guard for helping repurpose the Wheeler Building on its Bennett Medical Center campus as an alternative care site.
The COVID-19 experience has also helped hospital staff learn more about conserving PPE, what medical treatments work and do not – “Sometimes ventilators are not the best therapy,” she noted.
She further said the hospital has had great success with plasma therapy – Stamford was the first in the state to begin utilizing that process – which she said has had “miraculous” results.
Although the state has yet to start releasing data about how many COVID patients have been discharged, Silard said that Stamford had released about 215 patients to their homes yesterday.
Major General Francis J. Evon Jr., Adjutant General of the Connecticut National Guard, also appeared to announce that the Guard has helped conduct over 102 tests, inspect over 300 ventilators, and provide over 2,200 recovery beds around the state.
Lamont added that FEMA “is stepping up – better late than never” – and that it will begin delivering a significant amount of protective gear starting May 1.
In addition, Raytheon Technologies is donating more than $3 million worth of charter transportation and PPE to the state, which will be distributed by the state to first responders and front line health care professionals.
The donation includes 455,000 KN95 medical masks, 325,000 surgical masks, 120,000 protective coveralls, and 4,500 ICU coveralls. The gear is being purchased from suppliers in China and shipped to the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security commodities warehouse, where it will be sorted and delivered to those in need through a joint operation with the Connecticut National Guard.
The Raytheon Technologies team on the ground in China coordinated the logistics of the acquisition and air travel to the United States. The first shipment is scheduled to arrive in Connecticut on Sunday.
The governor also said that he understood that applications for the replenished Paycheck Protection Progwill begin being accepted at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
Tong joins other attorneys general to fix PPE pricing
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong joined Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a coalition of state attorneys general in sending a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to temporarily fix the prices of medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shortage of PPE and other medical supplies has resulted in competitive bidding wars among private and public entities, which the attorneys general maintain ultimately amounts to taxpayer-funded subsidies to the corporate suppliers of the equipment.
The coalition is asking Congress to regulate prices of medical supplies and equipment to fight against artificial inflation and to avoid those with the supplies from profiteering by playing government agencies and hospitals against each other, while the spread of COVID-19 continues and more citizens die.
The pandemic and the government’s response to it could nearly quadruple the federal budget deficit to $3.7 trillion, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The 2020 budget deficit will soar after four coronavirus response bills passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump are expected to add more than $2 trillion to the $24.6 trillion national debt in just the remaining six months of the current fiscal year, the CBO said.
The report predicts that this quarter will see an annualized rate of decline of 40%, along with a 14% unemployment rate. That rate is currently estimated by various sources as between 18-23%.
Injecting disinfectant to battle virus not a good idea
Reckitt Benckiser, the U.K.-based owner of Lysol, issued the following statement today: “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).
“As with all products,” it continued, “our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.”
The otherwise self-evident statement came in the wake of President Donald Trump’s remarks yesterday that, “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later explained. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
Murphy blasts Trump’s defunding of WHO
In the wake of China’s pledge to give an additional $30 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) following Trump’s decision to pull U.S. funding of the organization, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) declared:
“This isn’t rocket science. Pulling the United States back from the world stage allows countries like China to fill the void. President Trump has tried to make the WHO a scapegoat to deflect from his negligent handling of COVID-19. But halting U.S. funding to the WHO has just created an even larger opportunity for China to influence the geopolitical response to COVID-19.
“Pandemics won’t end with COVID-19,” Murphy continued, “and American security will depend on our ability to strengthen and improve international global health organizations like the WHO. The fact that Trump doesn’t understand that is deeply disturbing.”
As of this writing, there are more than 886,000 positive cases and nearly 51,000 virus-related deaths in the U.S., with over 83,500 recovered. Globally, there are almost 2.8 million positive cases and over 195,000 deaths, with more than 760,000 recovered.