The state's new rules controlling the number of shoppers who can be in a store is being put into effect. Here are patrons waiting to enter the Home Depot in North Windham.

Another 124 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized and 33 died overnight and early Saturday in Connecticut, a state bracing for a surge of novel coronavirus cases expected to peak by month’s end in Fairfield County. The death toll associated with the virus is now 165, and current hospitalizations reached 1,033.

The number of new laboratory-confirmed cases rose by a relatively modest 362 to 5,276, but public health officials warn that daily fluctuations reveal little about the spread of the coronavirus. There was a geographic milestone: confirmed cases in New Haven County topped 1,000, becoming the second county to reach that mark.

Epidemiologists are tracking the spread of the virus to the north and east from New York, roughly following I-684 to I-84 into Danbury and I-95 through Greenwich, Stamford, Darien and Norwalk up into New Haven. More than 1,000 residents of Stamford and Norwalk have tested positive, as well as 418 in Danbury.

Three quarters of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in Connecticut are residents of Fairfield or New Haven counties, but hospitalizations have become the key metric. And those, too, still most heavily affect those two counties.

Ninety-seven of the 124 new hospitalizations and 799 of the 1,033 total current hospitalizations are in Fairfield and New Haven.

The daily summary on April 4, 2020. CT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

The disease hits hardest among older residents, with only 16 of the 165 fatalities associated with COVID-19 being under age 60 and 85 being at least age 80. Fifty-five of the state’s 215 nursing homes have had at least one confirmed case, with 90 hospitalizations and 33 deaths coming from nursing-home residents.

Despite warnings against drawing conclusions from any single day, Gov. Ned Lamont acknowledged Friday that he looks every day for signs that three weeks of social distancing and restrictions on commerce are slowing the pandemic.

The governor had no televised briefing Saturday.

COVID-19 hospitalizations by county, as of April 4, 2020. CT DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Electric Boat president tests positive

Kevin Graney, the  president of Electric Boat, announced Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19. As a defense contractor responsible for the production and maintenance of nuclear submarines, the sprawling boat works on the Thames has remained open, drawing concerns from employees.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said he believes EB is working to reduce the risk by increasing tele-work for the design staff and modifying schedules to reduce density.

“Based on my calls this morning, additional adjustments are being developed and accelerated,” Courtney said. “Lastly, my staff has been working with Navy acquisition leaders to adopt new, flexible rules on schedule and cost in its contracting process so that shipyards will not be penalized for adhering to CDC guidance.”

In a statement, Lamont said FEMA notified the state Saturday that it has approved the administration’s request to add housing for survivors of domestic violence in the reimbursement guidelines previously approved for Connecticut.

The aid makes municipalities eligible for  a 75-percent reimbursement for the costs associated with providing housing for first responders and health-care workers who temporarily need a place to live separate from family, and also for those who are homeless.

“Ensuring safe housing for survivors of domestic violence in locations that are less congested than what many of the locations that typically offer these services usually provide is critical at this time, and I thank FEMA for approving our request to cover these services,” Lamont said

The administration reported that Connecticut public schools have served more than one million meals under the emergency meals programs the State Department of Education launched last month after the governor ordered the closure of all schools.  A total of 128 school districts are serving meals at 407 locations.

Interested in virtual tourism?

Connecticut’s tourism office has shifted to reflect life under COVID-19 restrictions that have entertainment venues.

The  tourism website,, is featuring activities residents can either do in secluded locations or safely at home. This includes the creation of a list of restaurants, breweries, and vineyards that are now offering take-out and delivery services.

There also is a collection of online, virtual experiences about Connecticut landmarks, museums, and attractions.

Unemployment claims hit 250,000

The state Department of Labor has processed 90,000 of the more than 250,000 unemployment claims filed in less than three weeks, a torrent that exceeds all of the claims filed last year by about 70,000.

Kurt Westby, the labor commissioner, called the Connecticut numbers “staggering, but not unique.” The backlog is now five weeks, and Westby asked for patience.

“We want to let people know that although it will take some time, all eligible claims will be processed, paid, and retroactive to the date they were filed,” Westby said. 

To speed up the processing of their claims, unemployed residents who have not yet filed should:

  • Visit;
  • Click first on the message above the large blue button that notes: “for quicker payment if unemployment benefit, please follow these instructions.” The link will bring claimants to a guide that should be read BEFORE filing for benefits.
  • The guide will provide guidance on filing claims as a “Temporary Shutdown” option and provide guidance on entering a Return to Work date.

For residents who have already filed, they should check their mail daily for updated messages. Messages may include next steps or a request that claimants log back onto their claim since following these instructions will help speed up processing. Claimants should check their spam and junk folders.

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Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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