Gov. Ned Lamont today unveiled seven criteria for the first of the state’s four reopening phases – some of which have already been accomplished – prior to the planned May 20 soft reopening of Connecticut’s economy.
The first – a 14-day decline of hospitalizations – has been achieved on a rolling basis over the past 16 days, Lamont said, with a decrease of about 30% since its peak. In addition, some 11,000 smart thermometers are now in use, and 60,000 residents are using the “HowIFeel” app.
The second – increasing testing – is still being worked upon. The state wants to increase capacity to 42,000 tests per week by May 20, roughly twice what is being done now, with test results in hand in less than 48 hours. The governor expressed confidence that Quest Diagnostics and Abbott Labs will help the state achieve that goal. Connecticut also plans to begin testing asymptomatic patients, noted Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group Co-chair Dr. Albert Ko.
The third – increasing contact tracing capacity – is also improving, Lamont said. Its Microsoft platform is now live; 20 local health departments will begin pilot programs next week; and volunteer recruitment and testing is underway.
Progress is also being made on the fourth criteria, protecting vulnerable populations – including nursing home residents, first responders, direct care workers and at-risk urban communities.
The fifth – adequate health care capacity – has been accomplished, with less than 20% of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. That will allow hospitals to resume select procedures and mobile field hospitals being selectively taken down, the governor noted.
“Surprising news” about a particularly large receipt of PPE – an adequate supply of which is the sixth criteria – will come on Saturday, Lamont said. Specific protocols for each business sector – the seventh criteria – will be made available tomorrow, he said.
The governor said that discussions have been taking place to allow restaurants – which can serve food only outdoors, in addition to the curbside takeout option already in place – to expand seating into parking lots, as a means of maximizing their number of patrons. Such moves are currently subject to local zoning rules, he said.
“This is going to be a slow process,” Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group co-Chair Indra Nooyi said. “It’s a new way of life. It’s going to take a while for people to get comfortable” with dining amongst masked waiters, disposable menus, and the like.”
Still, if all goes according to plan, Nooyi said that within “two, three, four weeks” after May 20, “life will start to get back to normal.”
The state conducted another 2,804 tests and received 374 positive results over the past 24 hours, bringing those respective totals to 111,447 and 30,995. Hospitalizations were down by 55 to 1,455, while deaths increased by 85 to 2,718.
In Fairfield County, another 224 positive cases were recorded, along with an additional 25 deaths, for respective totals of 12,679 and 977. Hospitalizations fell by 20 to 469.
Stamford has the most positive COVID-19 cases in the state, with 2,830, followed by Bridgeport (2,266), New Haven (1,837), Norwalk (1,667), Danbury (1,473), Waterbury (1,464), Hartford (1,338), West Haven (816), Hamden (736), Greenwich (714) and Stratford (631).
Data on how many patients have recovered from the virus should begin to be made available over the next few days, according to Josh Geballe, the state’s COO.
New CDC guidelines rejected by White House
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official, the organization’s draft guidelines for reopening the country have been rejected by the Trump administration.
The new guidance provides more detailed information – including specific suggestions for schools and churches – than had been issued by the administration last month.
“We are used to dealing with a White House that asks for things and then chaos ensues,” the source told CNN. “A team of people at the CDC spent innumerable hours in response to an ask from (White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr.) Debbie Birx.”
Another task force official told CNN that the White House’s original guidelines “made clear that each state should open up in a safe and responsible way based on the data and response efforts in those individual states.”
As of this writing, there are more than 1.24 million positive cases and nearly 75,000 virus-related deaths in the U.S., with over 172,000 recovered. Globally, there are over 3.6 million positive cases and in excess of 267,000 deaths, with more than 1.25 million recovered.