The following was written by Heather Borden Herve, GMW Editor
Gov. Ned Lamont issued his nightly update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for Thursday, April 2, 2020. It was, according to the governor, the largest, single-day increase in the number of deaths since the crisis began.
By the Numbers (April 2)
- New one-day positive cases in CT residents: 267
- Total CT cases: 3,824 (includes 18,300-plus tests conducted in state and private labs)
- Total People hospitalized: 827 (approximately) (381 in Fairfield County)
- Total Fairfield County cases: 2,132 (up 146 in one day)
- Total CT fatalities due to complications from COVID-19: 112 (27 newly reported) (65 in Fairfield County–up 19 in one day)
Visit the state’s coronavirus webpage for several additional charts and tables containing more data groups, including a town-by-town breakdown of positive cases in each municipality and a breakdown of cases and deaths among age groups.
Governor Implements New “Safe Store” Rules
Gov. Lamont instituted new rules to protect store employees and shoppers, effective Friday, April 3.
Occupancy, store layout, and managing customer flow
- Occupancy capped at 50% of store capacity. At entrance, staff will maintain a count of the number of customers entering and exiting stores.
- Clearly mark 6-ft. spacing in lines on floor at checkout lines and other high-traffic areas and, as much as practicable, provide ways to encourage 6-ft. spacing in lines outside the store.
- Post conspicuous signage and floor markings to direct customers and limit bottlenecks and/or encourage spacing and flow in high-density areas.
- Have aisles be one-way in stores where practicable to maximize spacing between customers. Identify the one-way aisles with conspicuous signage and/or floor markings.
- Maximize space between customers and employees at checkout lines, including, but not limited to, only using every other checkout line, where and when possible.
- Install Plexiglas shields to separate employees from customers at checkout lines and other areas in the store where practicable.
- Communicate with customers through in-store signage, and public service announcements and advertisements, there should only be one person per household during shopping trips, whenever possible.
- Discontinue all self-serve foods (e.g., salad bar, olive bar) and product sampling.
- Allow “touchless” credit card transactions. If not possible, sanitize credit card machines (including pen) regularly and consistently.
- Cart and basket handles sanitized between uses (by staff).
- Wherever possible, employees will wear gloves and face masks at all times that they are interacting with customers and/or handling products.
Governor Lamont signs 21st executive order
Gov. Lamont Thursday signed another executive order–the 21st since he declared an emergency–which enacts the following provisions:
Prohibition on non-essential lodging: Prohibits all hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and short-term residential rentals (including those arranged through online hosting platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo) from renting to customers for leisure or vacation purposes. Instead, lodging at these facilities must be limited to:
- Health care workers, first responders, and other essential workers;
- Workers engaged in transporting critical materials to hospitals;
- Vulnerable populations, including those who are homeless;
- Connecticut residents who need a place to self-quarantine away from family or roommates;
- Those receiving long-term care or specialized medical treatment;
- Connecticut residents in need of housing as a result of property damage, such as a fire;
- Persons unable to return home because of constraints on travel; and
- Persons engaged in providing or servicing lodging.
Further clarification of limits on restaurants, bars, and private clubs: Permits, under certain conditions, food establishments and liquor manufacturers to deliver alcoholic liquor and allows additional manufacturers to sell alcoholic liquor for pick-up and delivery. This will provide additional opportunities for these businesses to safely deliver their products directly to customers and reduce travel outside the home.
Suspension of notarization requirement related to Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program: Suspends the notarization requirement for certifying compliance with nondiscrimination laws for applicants seeking assistance through the recently created Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program for small businesses in order to ensure that applications can be completed and processed in an efficient manner.
Flexibility to maintain adequate child care infrastructure: Provides the commissioner of Early Childhood with the authority to implement a financial package to compensate emergency child care and stabilize the child care field to support providers through the emergency response.
Suspension of rehearing rights for temporary rate increases for certain health care providers: Enables the Department of Social Services to provide relief to various providers, including nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for the intellectually disabled, and residential care homes, by way of a temporary rate increase to address the COVID-19 public health emergency without being subject to rehearings challenging the overall magnitude and methodology of the rate increases that can, in some case, take years to come to a conclusion and expose the state to increased costs beyond those necessary to pay the temporary rate increases.
Alternative to affidavits in relation to orders of protection and relief: Suspends the requirement that victims of domestic abuse sign an application for an order of protection under oath before a notary or attorney. Instead, the order enables them to sign an application outside the presence of a third party under the penalty of false statement. Gov. Lamont thanks the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Judicial Branch for their input and coordination on this important matter. This order, along with additional changes the Judicial Branch intends to make to its Rules of Civil Procedure, will ensure victims of domestic abuse continue to have access to our courts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Access Health CT extends special enrollment period for uninsured residents to April 17
Access Health CT–Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace–Thursday announced that it is extending the deadline for the new special enrollment period for uninsured residents to enroll in health insurance plans. The special enrollment period opened on March 19 and was originally anticipated to end April 2; however that deadline is now being extended to April 17. Anyone who enrolls during this extension period will receive coverage effective May 1.
The only way to sign up for this special enrollment period is by calling 855.365.2428. Telephone enrollment is available Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Individuals who lose coverage due to unemployment, experience certain other qualifying life events, or qualify for Medicaid/Children’s Health Program (CHIP), can always enroll online, in-person or over the phone and all help is free.
Nearly 1,500 people enrolled during the initial-two week special enrollment period.
Department of Social Services extends deadline to apply for winter home-heating assistance
The Department of Social Services today announced that it is extending the application period for the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program. Residents will now have until June 1, 2020 to apply for assistance to help cover this past winter’s heating bills (the previous deadline was May 1). Application sites and eligibility information is available online, by calling 2-1-1, texting CTWARM to 898.211, or contacting a community action agency.
Department of Social Services extends Emergency SNAP benefits to 97,000 households
The Department of Social Services is providing Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) benefits to nearly half of Connecticut SNAP participants on April 9 and April 20. Authorized by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, the extra food benefits will go to approximately 97,000 households not currently receiving the maximum benefits allowed for their household size. This means that all households enrolled in SNAP will receive the maximum food benefit allowable for their household size, even if they aren’t usually eligible for the maximum benefit. More information is available online.
Department of Revenue Services extends filing payment deadline for gift tax returns
At the direction of Governor Lamont, the Department of Revenue Services today announced that the filing and payment deadline for gift tax returns is being extended until July 15, 2020. Gift tax returns reporting gifts made during 2019 had been due on April 15. This extension does not apply to the estate tax.
“This action, which aligns with the U.S. Treasury’s announcement of an extension at the federal level, will help support taxpayers and tax practitioners meet their responsibility to file returns and remit payments,” Acting Revenue Services Commissioner John Biello said.For Connecticut taxable gifts made during calendar year 2019, a donor will not pay Connecticut gift tax unless the aggregate amount of the Connecticut taxable gifts made exceeds $3.6 million.