On March 15, 2020, Dr. Matthew Cartter, the state epidemiologist, said while Connecticut has logged 68 cases of COVID-19, there are likely more than 6,000. Tested is still limited, he said. mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org
Dr. Matthew Cartter, the state epidemiologist, said while Connecticut has logged 68 cases of COVID-19, there are likely more than 6,000. Testing is still limited, he said. mark pazniokas / ctmirror.org

While Connecticut has now recorded 68 cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new strain of coronavirus, more than 6,000 residents likely have contracted the disease, Dr. Matthew Cartter, the state’s epidemiologist, said Tuesday.

“We don’t test everybody. But we know that for every person who tests positive for flu, there are probably 100 others out there who’ve been sick with the flu who never get tested,” he said. “Right now, if we have 68 positives, you should assume there are at least 100 people out there who have COVID-19 for every single positive, which puts us around 6,000 or so – and that might be a low estimate.”

The majority of the state’s cases – 48 – are in Fairfield County. Another eight are in New Haven County, seven are in Hartford County and five are in Litchfield County. Twenty-six people are now hospitalized with coronavirus. No one in Connecticut has died from it.

While there have been no positive tests in the eastern part of Connecticut, Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday that it’s only a matter of time.

“It’s been accelerating through the state,” he said. “Fairfield County is where the bulk of the incidents are, but now Litchfield County, Hartford County and New Haven County [have cases]. Southeast Connecticut is, thankfully, the last to have an incident. But we know it’s coming.”

As hospitals prepare for a surge in patients, Lamont said the state is expediting certification for trainee nurses and reaching out to retired nurses to bolster staffing. He called on day care centers to remain open, so parents who work in hospitals or provide other emergency services have a place to turn to for child care.

“You should assume there are at least 100 people out there who have COVID-19 for every single positive, which puts us around 6,000 or so – and that might be a low estimate.”

Dr. Matthew Carter, state epidemiologist

The state expects to receive additional federal funding to expand Medicaid, known as HUSKY in Connecticut, and is opening enrollment on Access Health CT, the insurance exchange, for people who find themselves without coverage.

In an interview on CNBC Tuesday, Lamont said he was concerned that the state’s supply of ventilators wouldn’t be enough to handle a dramatic increase in patients. He did not say how many more ventilators were needed, or when the crush of patients was expected to roll in.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated that the coronavirus outbreak would peak in his state in 45 days. Health officials there have said that in the worst-case scenario of a flulike pandemic, New York could be short by as many as 15,783 ventilators a week at the height of the crisis.The state has logged 1,374 cases of COVID-19. Twelve people have died.

As hospitals in Connecticut continued to prepare and introduce new sites for testing, several businesses across the state announced temporary closures. Among them were department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom.

State unemployment claims skyrocketed to 25,000 in four-and-a-half days. The Department of Labor announced it has begun at-home practice drills to ensure claims processing will continue amidst the coronavirus crisis.

“I think the people of Connecticut understand the scope of what we’re confronting, and on a voluntary basis, they’re stepping up and doing the right thing.”

Gov. Ned Lamont

The University of Connecticut said Tuesday that classes would remain online for the rest of the spring semester and the school has canceled its May commencement ceremonies. Several other state colleges have moved campus courses online for the foreseeable future.

Lamont on Sunday ordered all public schools closed, and on Monday he directed all bars, restaurants, movie theaters, concert halls, gyms and other businesses that draw large crowds to shut their doors until further notice. Restaurants and bars may stay open to fulfill takeout orders only.

The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations agreed Monday night to close Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan casinos for the first time since they opened in the 1990s.

Lamont said Tuesday that he’s not yet ready to consider a “shelter in place” mandate, which would prevent people from leaving their homes except under certain circumstances, such as a trip to the grocery store or the doctor’s office. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has warned his residents to prepare for that directive.

“I think the people of Connecticut understand the scope of what we’re confronting, and on a voluntary basis, they’re stepping up and doing the right thing,” Lamont said.

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Jenna CarlessoHealth Reporter

Jenna is CT Mirror’s Health Reporter, focusing on health access, affordability, quality, equity and disparities, social determinants of health, health system planning, infrastructure, processes, information systems, and other health policy. Before joining CT Mirror Jenna was a reporter at The Hartford Courant for 10 years, where she consistently won statewide and regional awards. Jenna has a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac University and a Bachelor or Arts degree in Journalism from Grand Valley State University.

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