Officials detail local, state response to coronavirus

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by JAMILA YOUNG

STAFF WRITER

Federal, state, and local officials held a press conference on Monday at Bristol Health to provide an update on the state’s response to COVID-19.

U.S Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz were on hand for the update, which comes in the wake of last week’s announcement of the first case of coronavirus in Connecticut.

A female New York resident who works at Danbury and Norwalk Hospital was the first documented case. The woman is currently under self-quarantine.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu also spoke about the local response to coronavirus concerns.

Federal, state, and local officials gathered at Bristol Health on Monday to discuss the government’s response to coronvirus after the first case of the disease had been diagnosed in Connecticut last week. JANELLE MORELLI PHOTO

“We’ve been very sensitive to this issue (the virus)” since the return of Bristol Central High School students from Italy a few weeks ago, said Zoppo-Sassu. “That, added with the very global community that we have at ESPN, and knowing that we have a community hospital, we have started planning, and having internal meetings for the past several weeks (to prepare our response).”

“I’ve issued my own directive to city hall employees this morning, and we are increasing the level of contact cleaning that happens at all city buildings because we know as public buildings we have a lot of traffic,” said the mayor.

“We’re just really hoping to make sure that people react with the right information, and calm pragmatic ways, and we’ll get through this,” said Zoppo-Sassu.

Dr. Andrew Lim, medical director of emergency medicine at Bristol Health said the hospital will separate those sick from the coronavirus. The hospital also will have mobile response units.

The coronavirus has a 2% mortality rate, closer to the flu, Lim also noted. He added 80% of those diagnosed with coronavirus do not require medical treatment. Some patients, however, will get sicker.

Currently, said Kim, there is no vaccine for the coronavirus.

Lamont said he is urging people not to travel out of state and conduct business by telephone or via teleconference. He said older employees should stay home. He also said students who have traveled out of the country and who have come home should self-quarantine.

Josh Geballe, chief operating officer for Lamont, said the Center for Disease Control says people traveling from China, South Korea, Iran, and Italy should go straight home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

CDC guidelines also say that nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be limiting visitors to no more than two people per person, said Gabelle.

If you call 2-1-1, Gabelle said people will be provided information on the coronavirus.

Geballe said school closings would be a last resort to fight the virus because of the harsh impact it would have on communities.

But, Lamont said, “Nobody can be totally prepared.”

Blumenthal said he is looking for the federal government to provide financial aid in fighting the virus. Insurance co-pays for coronavirus testing should be waived for patients, he said. Hospitals also should be reimbursed by the federal government for the testing they’re doing, said the senator.