CT coronavirus deaths reach 11, with 415 infected
Three more fatalities have occurred in the state’s coronavirus pandemic, bringing the total to at least 11, with 415 cases confirmed, an increase of 88 from Sunday, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday.
About 15 percent of of the 4,500 people tested have had to be hospitalized, and 5 percent have ended up in intensive care, with the average stay there about two weeks, he said. Fifty four are currently hospitalized.
Later Monday night, Lamont described the deceased as a man in his 50s who lived in a private residence in Norwalk who had been at Norwalk Hospital, and a man in his 70s who lived in a private residence in Newington and had been in Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.
After Lamont’s announcement, Mary Roman, 83, a top senior Olympian from Norwalk who won hundreds of medals worldwide, died Monday night at Norwalk Hospital of the coronavirus.
Lamont made his initial remarks in a mid-afternoon news conference in Hartford, stressing that the number infected seems to double every three or four days.
He said that public schools will be closed until at least April 20, but 60,000 laptop computers have been donated to assist high schools. “We’re not going to make this period a loss for our kids,” he said.
During a 40-minute news conference, Lamont said more university dormitories will be available soon for eventual intermediate-care levels, freeing up space in hospitals. Southern Connecticut State University became the latest institution to offer space in the health crisis.
The governor asked hospitals to increase their capacity by 50 percent over the next four weeks.
Dr. Matthew Cartter, director of infectious diseases for the state Department of Public Health, said that the coronavirus is more virulent than the average seasonal influenza, which kills 300 to 600 patients a year between October and April. So he expects there could be many more COVID-19 deaths than that in the coming months.
Fairfield — 20
Hartford — 13
Litchfield — 2
Middlesex — 4
New Haven — 12
New London — 1
Tolland — 2
Windham — 0
Total — 54
*Source - State Department of Public Health
“But we’re just at the beginning of this,” Cartter said. “We don’t know for certain. The one thing that continues to go up is the number of hospitalizations. We can’t see it. It’s in the distance, but more cases are coming. More hospitalizations are coming. Remember, this virus does not share our sense of time. I’m actually surprised that Hartford and New Haven County aren’t more impacted.”
Cartter said that at this point, the hospitals that will experience the most strain first, are those in the cities of Bridgeport, Norwalk and Danbury, as well as Greenwich Hospital. Lamont said all state hospitals will likely need federal financial support to weather the pandemic.
Getting large numbers of people away from each other was one of the points of his plan to close non-essential businesses and non-profit agencies after 8 p.m. Monday.
“I can try and dictate as much as I can in the order, but I urge you to use your common sense and do everything you can to stay out of groups large and small, and if you’re over 70, stay at home,” Lamont said. He acknowledged that many towns and cities have closed local parks because of failures by people to keep six feet away from each other. He will ask the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to establish limits at state parks. Locations such as Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden were jammed over the weekend.
“Every town is going to figure this out in their own way,” Lamont said. “The parks aren’t too small. The groups are too tight.”
On Monday night, legislative leaders announced that the business of the General Assembly will remain on hold until at least April 13, in the health crisis. The State Capitol, the adjacent Legislative Office Building, and the Old State House downtown will all remain closed until then, subject to further review.
Also on Monday night, Lamont issued the 11th amendment to his virus-related executive order from March 10, suspending non-critical probate court operations, allowing for electronic notarization of legal documents, and suspending national criminal background checks for people working in long-term care facilities.
In an email late Sunday night to thousands of executive branch employees, the governor pointed out the tough week in which eight people died of COVID-19 complications. He stressed the need for social distancing as part of his “Stay Safe, Stay Home” initiative, closing many businesses and non-profit organization until at least April 22.
“We need to embrace this guidance in state government as well,” Lamont said. “While we have already taken aggressive action by increasing the number of employees telecommuting by a factor of seven since the crisis began and closed most of our customer service offices, we now must take additional measures.”
He said that the decisions of some managers to send people home even though they cannot work remotely. Unionized state employees would remain on the payroll either way.
“It is not a time where everyone can be treated equally and we ask for your patience, support, and understanding in that regard,” Lamont said. “If you are among the employees whose managers determine do not have the ability to continue your state work, please find other ways to serve our citizens.”