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COVID-19 LATEST: Lamont calls for long-term recovery committees to be formed in every municipality

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The state government is encouraging the formation of long-term recovery committees in every municipality – an “effective way to bring our economy back,” according to Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz – as COVID-19-related hospitalizations continued to decline.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced that, over the past 24 hours, the state conducted another 2,073 tests and realized an additional 455 positive results, bringing those respective totals to 94,818 and 26,767. Hospitalizations were down by another 41, to 1,691, while deaths rose by 79 to 2,168.

Fairfield County recorded another 111 positive cases and 27 deaths, bringing those respective totals to 10,985 and 774. Hospitalizations dropped by 29 to 591.

Stamford still has the most positive COVID-19 cases in the state, with 2,339, followed by Bridgeport (1,870), New Haven (1,523), Norwalk (1,473), Danbury (1,352), Waterbury (1,236), Hartford (991), West Haven (698), Greenwich (664), Hamden (583) and Stratford (526).

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi recounted his own battle with the virus, saying that he came home from an April 4 Board of Selectmen meeting “feeling somewhat down,” followed by two days in bed. On April 6 he received a positive test result, and by April 8 he was “pretty far down the road with the virus,” he said.

On his personal care physician’s advice, Marconi then spent the next eight days on oxygen, and said his wife – who was also briefly infected – feared for his life.

As evidenced by the ongoing increase in cases and deaths, Marconi said, opening facilities closed by the virus too soon would “perhaps be the worst single thing we could do right now. Let’s do it right, and do it safe.”

Recovery committees
Bysiewicz announced that working with the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the state Council of Governments, a formation of local long-term recovery committees is being put together.

Each municipality’s mayor or first selectman will appoint someone to lead their committee, with that person in turn drawing from municipal officials, community-based organizations, nonprofit providers, and philanthropic partners to ensure the needs of their residents are met, not just during the height of the current crisis, but for the long term.

The groups will pay strict attention to diversity and community engagement, Bysiewicz said, adding that the intention is to emulate successful efforts during the 2012 recovery from Hurricanes Sandy and Maria, as well as during the current U.S. Census data collection. Connecticut leads all Northeastern states with the latter effort, she said, with a 57.1% response rate.

D.C. developments: Remdesivir to the rescue?

The New York Times reported late today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue an emergency-use authorization for remdesivir to treat COVID-19, possibly as early as tonight.

The news follows the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s release of preliminary results earlier today from its study of the antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences. Those results found that patients taking remdesivir recovered 31% faster than those on placebo.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, greeted the news at the White House today.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Fauci said of the study, which involved over 1,000 patients from multiple sites around the world.

“This is really quite important,” Fauci said during an Oval Office meeting. “What it is proven is that a drug can block this virus …. The mortality rate trended towards being better in the sense of less deaths in the remdesivir group.”

However, a separate trial in China did not reach those same conclusions, according to results published today in medical journal The Lancet. That publication reported that further studies “are needed to better understand its potential effectiveness.”

But the Chinese study did not have a full enrollment of coronavirus patients, which led Fauci to dismiss its validity.

“I don’t like to pooh-pooh other studies, but that’s not an adequate study,” Fauci said. “And everybody in the field feels that.”

The FDA’s emergency-use authorization would be highly unusual, as remdesivir is not currently approved to treat any disease, although it has been used to treat some Ebola cases in the past.

Democrats named to House oversight panel
A pair of New York Democrats will be part of the special subcommittee to oversee the spending of COVID-19 relief funds and prevent price gouging and profiteering, according to an announcement by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today.

Maloney

U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velázquez will be joined by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (South Carolina), who is expected to chair the committee, as well as U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters (California), Bill Foster (Illinois), Jamie Raskin (Maryland) and Andy Kim (New Jersey).

The seven Democrats are scheduled to be joined by five Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) has the option to name those members, although he is reportedly under pressure from some fellow Republicans to refuse to do so, to protest what some GOP members see as a partisan political attack on the Trump administration.

The numbers
As of this writing, there are more than 1.03 million positive cases and about 60,200 virus-related deaths in the U.S., with over 119,000 recovered. Globally, there are nearly 3.2 million positive cases and about 226,000 deaths, with more than 958,000 recovered.

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