State imposes restrictions due to virus outbreak

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As of Monday, March 16, Governor Ned Lamont announced there were a total of 41 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state of Connecticut. In an executive order, Lamont announced several restrictions to public places.

The order prohibits large social and recreational gatherings to no more than 50 people, following updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It adds religious, spiritual and worship gatherings to the list of activities for which this prohibition applies.

The executive order also limits restaurants and bars to take-out and delivery services only. The sale of alcohol is prohibited at these establishments. In addition, the order called for closure of gyms, fitness studios and movie theaters. All restrictions are enacted through April 30 unless otherwise amended by a future order.

After discussions with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Trial nations, the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos were also closed. The closing is a historic one for both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. Foxwoods opened in 1992 and has never been closed. Mohegan Sun opened in 1996 and also has never been closed to guests.

“This is an important cooperative agreement between sovereign nations and the State of Connecticut,” said Lamont in a press release. “We all share the same goal toward ensuring our residents are safe and keeping public health at the top of our minds during this public health emergency. I applaud the tribes for their collaboration and partnership.”

On March 13, Lamont signed an executive order granting the commissioner of the department of public health authority to restrict visitation at nursing home facilities, residential care homes and chronic disease hospitals.

Lamont acknowledged that small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Connecticut are being negatively impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak and are now eligible for disaster relief loans of up to $2 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

On Sunday, the governor submitted a request to the federal agency for expedited approval of the disaster relief to immediately provide aid to businesses in Connecticut. The state department of economic and community development worked to survey companies statewide to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the small business community and the local economy.

“Small businesses and nonprofits of all types are experiencing large, sudden drops in revenue while trying to do the right thing and give employees the flexibility they need to take care of themselves and their families,” said Lamont in a press release. “One of our priorities is to help them as much we can. SBA disaster relief loans are an important tool that can help Connecticut businesses.”

Small businesses can learn more and apply for financial assistance at sba.gov/disaster or call 1-800-659-2955.

Symptoms of the virus include shortness of breath, a cough, fever and or body aches, said Dr. Justin Lundbye, chief medical officer at Waterbury Hospital. He said the easily-transmitted virus is difficult to contain because it is becoming “community spread.” People are infected without having had known contact with a source.

It also means limiting testing to people who have traveled outside the United States is not as useful as it was when the outbreak began, Lundbye said.

“Coronavirus is very aggressive. You don’t need a lot of exposure to get sick,” he said.

For example, he said, “If I’m in a room and I cough and a tiny particle lands on a tablecloth and someone touches that tablecloth and then touches their eyes or nose or mouth, they acquire the virus.”

To keep up with updates pertaining to the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.CDC.gov.