Gov. Ned Lamont said that he currently has no plans to lock down the state again as a result of Covid-19, although cases and hospitalizations continue to spiral upwards.
Appearing from his Greenwich home yesterday as part of a self-quarantine after a staff member tested positive for the virus last week, Lamont was joined virtually by Yale School of Medicine professor Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who last week was named one of three co-chairs of President-elect Joe Biden’s Covid task force.
Both Nunez-Smith and Lamont said they had been receiving inquiries about a shutdown, which could include shutting restaurants and retailers again, as happened during the first Covid wave earlier this year.
Nunez-Smith said that public safety and an economic recovery can still take place simultaneously, as long as caution is used. “It’s got to be a precise adjustment of the dial, up and down. It’s not a light switch,” she said.
“It’s a matter of a tailored response,” the governor said.
Lamont is self-quarantining for 14 days after his communications director, Max Reiss, announced on Friday that he had tested positive. Other staff are also quarantining, as did U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, all of whom attended an indoor news conference that same day following an explosion at West Haven’s Veterans Affairs Hospital. The senators have since tested negative and returned to work.
Meanwhile, 98 people were hospitalized over the weekend with Covid symptoms, bringing that total to 757 – the highest level since late May. Another 22 deaths were recorded over the weekend, bringing that total to 4,759. The weekend infection rate was 5.38%.
Fairfield County has now recorded 28,814 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,137 Covid-related deaths. Hospitalizations stand at 230, an increase of 54 since last Friday.
Lamont also announced yesterday that he has sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that he extend the federal authorization for the Connecticut National Guard to provide support to the state through June 31, 2021, for its ongoing response to the Covid-19 public health emergency. In addition, he is requesting a 100% federal cost share on behalf of the state.
Previously, the state was authorized to use the National Guard with a 100% federal cost share from April 2 through September 30. The National Guard is currently providing the state with support under an authorization that began Oct. 1 and is set to end Dec. 31; however, the federal cost share for that period has been reduced to 75%.
The state estimates that its 25% cost share during the current authorization will cost about $2.5 million, adding to the fiscal burden caused by the pandemic.
“Between constructing mobile field hospitals, delivering PPE, supporting the needs of nursing homes and assisting the operations of testing sites, the Connecticut National Guard has been a critical component of our state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Lamont said. “And it must also be noted that the Guard’s support goes beyond assistance to state government – this authorization means it can provide assistance to our towns, cities, and health care providers to help protect our communities.”
Since their initial mission began at the outbreak of the pandemic in March, more than 1,000 Connecticut National Guardsmen and members of the State Militia have been called to duty to support operations designed to enhance the state’s health care infrastructure.
Tasks have included the creation of mobile field hospitals, delivery and distribution of millions of pieces of personal protective equipment, nursing home inspections and support, and testing kit assembly and collection.