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Rep. Fishbein's Connecticut Coronavirus Update - 3/26/2020

Governor Lamont this evening announced another Executive Order – Executive Order 7N – to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

Executive Order 7N temporarily eliminates the state tax on plastic shopping bags until May 15, doesn’t require employees to use a customer’s reusable bag until May 15, further restricts social and recreational gatherings to no more than 5 people, and asks restaurants and other food vendors to limit the time needed for pickup of takeout orders, and encourages the use of touchless and mobile payments. The order also amends and restricts prior guidance from DECD relating to firearm transactions.

Executive Order 7N:

1. Restriction of Social and Recreational Gatherings to No More Than 5 People. Effective immediately, and through April 30, 2020, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by me, the prior order set forth in Executive Order No. 7D, prohibiting social and recreational gatherings of 50 people or more, is hereby amended and modified to require that all such gatherings of six (6) (sic) or more people, including but not limited to, community, civic, leisure, or sporting events; parades; conceits; festivals; plays or live performances; conventions; and similar activities, are prohibited throughout the State of Connecticut, except that religious, spiritual or worship gatherings shall not be subject to such increased restrictions, and shall instead remain subject to the prohibition on gatherings of 50 or more people, provided that they employ reasonable and appropriate distancing measures. To further clarify this order, it does not apply to government operations, private workplaces, retail establishments, or other activities that are not social or recreational gatherings.

2. Restrictions on Restaurant Payment and Pickup Operations. Where reasonably practicable, restaurants, eating establishments, and any bars that remain open for sales of food for off-premise consumption, shall limit entrance of customers into their locations to the minimum extent necessary to pick up and/or pay for orders, use touchless payment systems, and require remote ordering and payment, whether by telephone, computer, mobile application, or other technology. Nothing in this order shall require any such business to acquire or use ordering or payment technology that they do not already possess, prohibit drive-through ordering and pickup, or prohibit in-person payment or cash payment where there is no reasonable alternative. Previously issued guidance for hospital and business cafeterias remains in effect.

3. Further Restrictions on Retail Operations. Any retail establishment that has been allowed to remain open and permit customers inside such establishment during this public health and civil preparedness emergency shall take appropriate and reasonable measures to ensure customers maintain six feet of distance between each other, and to manage any resulting lines to maintain such distance while people are waiting to enter, and where reasonably practical, employ touchless payment technology if they already have such technology available.

a. Firearms Transactions by Appointment Only. Effective immediately and through May 15, 2020, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by me, because the nature of certain regulated retail transactions, including purchase, sale, and transfer of firearms, ammunition, and their components or supplies, requires the customer’s presence inside the business to accommodate certain parts of those transactions or associated background check processes, and in order to limit person-to-person contact as much as possible and manage the large increase in requests for authorizations for such transactions and the resulting burdens on the communications technology and public safety staff responsible for reviewing and providing such authorizations, any firearms dealer shall conduct all such transactions by appointment only, shall limit such appointments to a number that will maintain a distance of six feet between any customers and/or staff in a store, including customers and staff conducting such transactions, and shall allow entrance into their establishments only to those customers conducting such transactions.

4. Temporary Suspension of Tax on Single-Use Checkout Bags. All provisions of Section 355 of Public Act 19-117, as codified in Section 22a- 246a of the 2020 Supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes, regarding single-use plastic checkout bags, are temporarily suspended through May 15, 2020, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by me. The Commissioner of Revenue Services shall issue any implementing order he deems necessary, and any guidance for businesses on accounting or other necessary measures during this temporary suspension.

5. Employees Not Required to Bag Items in Reusable Bags. Effective immediately and through May 15, 2020, unless earlier modified, extended, or terminated by me, no employer in a retail establishment shall require any employee to bag any item in a customer-provided reusable bag, provided that nothing in this order shall prohibit customers who wish to use such reusable bags from doing so; such customers shall bag their own items where the employee of the retail establishment declines to do so.

6.    Suspension of 21-month Limit on Temporary Family Assistance. Section 17b-l 12 of the Connecticut General Statutes and any implementing regulations are modified to exclude from the statutory 21-month time limit on receipt of Temporarily Family Assistance all months of such assistance received during the public health and civil preparedness emergency.

7.    Suspension of School Testing Assessments for 2019-20 School Year. The provisions of Section 10-14n of the Connecticut General Statutes related to the administration of all state summative and alternate assessments; Section 10- 14t, related to the administration of universal screening reading assessment for students in Grades K-3; and Section 10-265g, related to the administration of reading assessments in priority districts at the end of the school year, are hereby suspended for the 2019-20 school year. Any associated regulations, rules, and policies regarding statewide assessments are modified to authorize the Commissioner of Education to temporarily waive any requirements contained therein as he deems necessary to respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Order 7N: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/Office-of-the-Governor/Executive-Orders/Lamont-Executive-Orders/Executive-Order-No-7N.pdf 

The governor’s full press release can be read here: https://portal.ct.gov/Office-of-the-Governor/News/Press-Releases/2020/03-2020/Governor-Lamont-Coronavirus-Update-March-26

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Friday: AARP Connecticut Live Telephone Town Hall on COVID-19 with Gov. Lamont & Other State Officials

AARP Connecticut will host a live, interactive Telephone Town Hall on Friday, March 27, at 10 a.m. to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and the steps the state of Connecticut is taking to respond with Governor Ned Lamont.

Other top state officials scheduled to participate include Dr. Matthew Cartter, State Epidemiologist for the Connecticut Department of Health, and Mairead Painter, State of Connecticut Long Term Care Ombudsman.

Anyone can participate by registering to receive an automatic phone call at https://vekeo.com/aarpconnecticut/#. You can also listen live via an online audio feed or on the AARP Connecticut Facebook page.

AARP Community Connections

AARP has also launched a new online platform ‘AARP Community Connections’ to help users find local volunteer groups to aid in picking up groceries, provide financial assistance, or lend emotional support to neighbors, friends, and loved ones.

According to AARP, these “mutual aid” groups are designed to help communities stay connected at a time when people must practice social distancing to stay safe.

For more information, or to find a mutual aid group near you, click here: https://aarpcommunityconnections.org/

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Eversource Announces Changes During Coronavirus

As a member of the communities we serve across New England, we’re here to support our customers through this challenging time, including:

  • Suspending disconnection of service for non-payment.
  • Eliminating late payment charges.
  • Offering a special, flexible payment plan — with no down payment — for any past-due amount. Residential customers, please contact us at 800-286-2828 (electric) or 800-438-2278 (gas) to learn more. Business customers, please contact us at 800-682-2627.
  • Providing energy-saving tips and resources to help you manage any potential increase in your energy use and costs now that many families are spending their weekdays at home.
  • For answers to commonly asked questions about Eversource and our response to COVID-19, visit our FAQ page.

More information is available here: https://www.eversource.com/content/ct-c/residential/safety/protect-yourself/responding-to-covid-19

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Department of Correction to Manufacture Facemasks for emergency use

In a press release earlier today, the Connecticut Department of Correction announced:

In an effort to assist with the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, the Department of Correction’s Correctional Enterprises of Connecticut (CEC) unit has developed a prototype – for mass production – of a cotton fabric facemask intended for use in situations where N95 respirators or surgical masks are not available.

CEC has the ability to convert five of its manufacturing shops for production of the masks. Full-scale manufacturing of the masks began on Monday, March 23, 2020. It is estimated that initially a combined total of 1,200 to 1,400 facemasks could be produced daily.

After the first two days of production more than 3,300 masks were produced. It is likely that daily production will increase as the production process is streamlined.

Again, these masks are intended for use in emergency situations when no other option is available. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges on their website that in settings where N95 respirators are so limited that routinely practiced standards of care for wearing N95 respirators and equivalent or higher level of protection respirators are no longer possible, and surgical masks are not available, as a last resort, it may be necessary for healthcare providers to use masks that have never been evaluated or approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

CEC recently received a shipment of more than 28,000 yards of elastic for use in the production of the masks. CEC operates several production sites located within Department of Correction facilities manufacturing everything from highway signs, to furniture, to mattresses. These programs provide offenders with opportunities to learn valuable job skills while providing valuable goods and services to a wide range of customers.

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As of 4:00 p.m. tonight – Thursday, March 26th – the state has diagnosed a total of 1012 cases of Coronavirus. Updated virus totals can be accessed here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus

Governor Lamont also said the state death toll related to Coronavirus has risen to 21.

Latest COVID-19 Testing Data in Connecticut

Updated 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020

 Total patients who tested positive: 1012

Fairfield County: 607

Hartford County: 138

Litchfield County: 44

Middlesex County: 18

New Haven County: 156

New London County: 13

Tolland County: 33

Windham County: 3


Fishbein for Connecticut - Jo-Anne L. Rusczek, Treasurer - Approved by Craig Fishbein
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