Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all non-essential business in the state to close starting Monday.
Gov. Ned Lamont ordered all non-essential business in the state to close starting Monday.

Gov. Ned Lamont took another step Friday to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, ordering non-essential businesses to either close until the crisis passes or allow their employees to work from home starting Monday.

Although full details on the order weren’t immediately available, Lamont said it generally extends to all businesses that aren’t supplying food, gasoline, or medical supplies. Auto repair services and liquor stores are also exempt, said Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer.

“Major manufacturing” and construction could continue to operate and restaurants can continue to provide take-out service, but dine-in remains prohibited by an earlier order.

Businesses that don’t comply with the order will be fined, Lamont said.

“It’s tough medicine,” Lamont said. “I think it’s the right medicine.”

Lamont also announced four people have died to date from the coronavirus, with 40 hospitalized and 194 confirmed cases overall in Connecticut, including the first case from New London County. The most recent fatality was in Fairfield County, the governor said, but he did not release further details.

Lamont said they are now testing close to 1,000 people daily in the state, adding that the state initially was testing just 20 per day.

“The name of our policy is stay safe, stay home and we’re going to get through this working together,” the governor said during an afternoon press conference in the state armory. “Anything we can do to slow the rate of infection of COVID-19.”

“I think this is a virus that knows no borders,” Lamont said, noting his latest order mirrors a decision Friday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who placed the 19 million people in his state on a similar lockdown starting Sunday night. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also announced Friday that he will order the closure of all nonessential businesses.

Lamont issued a call to companies with access to personal protective equipment, including N95 masks and latex gloves, to donate the products or make them available for purchase. For businesses with the ability to manufacture such goods, the governor said state officials would place orders or provide incentives to help them get started.

“When it comes to protective equipment — gear, masks, ventilators — there’s a nationwide shortage,” he said. “We did get a small allocation from the feds. We’re getting that distributed now to our hospitals and nursing homes. But we have a long way to go.”

Dalio Philanthropies announced Friday it had donated $4 million to support medical care and food for the needy during the public health crisis. And $3 million of those dollars would be directed toward day-care facilities to support hospital workers at 26 sites across Connecticut.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbara and Ray Dalio and Dalio Philanthropies today announced a $4 million donation in support of medical care and food for those who are most stressed and cannot afford it.

Dalio Philanthropies is run by hedge-fund giant Ray Dalio and his wife, Barbara.

Unemployment claims and price-gouging complaints surge on

The state Department of Labor reported about 16,000 claims for unemployment benefits Friday — about eight times the level reported one week ago.

Officials received 2,000 claims on Friday, 8,000 over the weekend, 10,000 each on Monday and Tuesday, and 12,000 on Wednesday. That’s 72,000 claims in just over one week.

Deputy Labor Commissioner Daryle Dudzinski told The CT Mirror that just a few weeks ago, before most coronavirus-related closures had happened, the department had been receiving roughly 3,000 new jobless claims per week.

And according to a spokeswoman for Attorney General William Tong, 155 complaints of price-gouging had been received by his office through Friday morning.

That’s more than double the 71 complaints Tong had reported on Tuesday — after his first week of trying to crack down on price-gouging tied to the public health crisis.

Consumers who suspect price gouging can file a complaint with Tong’s office by visiting his website at https://www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint/ or by calling 860-808-5318.

Coast Guard cadet tests positive

The Coast Guard Academy said Friday that a 20-year-old male cadet has tested positive for coronavirus after he and six other cadets returned from a Spring Break trip to Spain.

A civilian friend who was on the trip also tested positive, the academy said.

The group was ordered to return to the United States after Trump suspended travel from Europe last week. The six other cadets are in self-isolation in their homes while the academy arranges for their testing.

Last week, the Coast Guard Academy  directed cadets to remain away from the school for an additional two weeks following spring break.

CT Mirror Reporter Jenna Carlesso contributed to this story.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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6 Comments

  1. I doubt this will provide any significant impact above what is already being done, but will put a lot more people out of work. this may be that Lamont can’t be seen as not following NY on this. Otherwise why are Liquor stores exempt but we still have to ban plastic bags? This just feeds panic not compliance. When 20% of the workforce is out of work and no place of work to go back to who takes the blame?

    1. Why does CT have to follow NY? We are our own state with our own issues. Maybe NY prefers their population drunk and/or high. We need sober, level-headed people to make good decisions.

  2. Why are liquor stores considered ‘essential?’ They seem to be about THE most protected business in this State. I noticed earlier that NY had exempted the beer distributors from closing, too. Is it that the powerful liquor store lobby complained that grocery stores would be open and selling beer or perhaps the Teamsters/distributors? Or perhaps it was the prospects of losing all that coveted tax revenue?

    1. My guess is that a lot of people will be much happier sheltered in place with a bottle of Corona in hand. Just sayin’

  3. This is tough to take. What business considers itself “non essential”? Apparently teachers and school personnel are non essential also but they are in a different non essential category as are most municipal and state employees which is best called “non essential fully paid”. All non essential private businesses will be paying for this catastrophe big time in the decade ahead while the “non essential fully paid” will get their annual increases.

  4. I am very worried that cities and towns can pass budget without public input. This is very dangerous to our democratic process. Why are meetings not online and public opinion solicited in various ways?

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