Jordan Drewe, age 10, works on his school work. He attends school in Fairfield.
Jordan Drewe, age 10, works on his school work from home during COVID-19.

The state’s largest teacher’s union told Gov. Ned Lamont that Connecticut needs to develop a range of safety protocols before deciding whether to reopen schools this spring.

Jeff Leake, president of the Connecticut Education Association, wrote in a letter Thursday that such protocols include staggering start times, implementing new seating formats, and changing the way students walk down the halls between periods.

He also said schools will need to be disinfected daily and have procedures for the continual cleaning of classrooms and commonly shared areas and equipment, including computers and desks.

“And that’s just the beginning,” Leake wrote. “What’s even more vital to the process of reopening our state is plenty of personal protective equipment and the ability to perform comprehensive coronavirus testing, tracing, and tracking, in order to safeguard the health of our residents.”

Nursing homes continue to face challenges managing COVID-19

Connecticut health care workers said Thursday that long-term care facilities across the state continue to face a variety of challenges containing coronavirus and obtaining the equipment needed to keep residents and workers safe.

Paul Liistro, a managing partner of Vernon Manor and Manchester Manor Health Care Center, said it cost nearly $45,000 to purchase 7,000 gowns for health care workers at his facilities.

Before the coronavirus pandemic struck, he said one gown cost less than a dollar.

“The PPE battle continues to go on but it’s the most important thing we have to encourage our staff to come to work,” said Liistro, speaking during a press conference organized by the state’s largest nursing home association

According to nursing home leadership and doctors, PPE, testing and staffing are the three keys to keeping coronavirus from becoming deadlier in nursing homes. Dr. Alison Kris with Fairfield University said widespread testing is critical.

Liistro said they want to work with the state Department of Public Health to come up with a plan, especially as the threat of a second wave of infections looms this fall. He believes COVID-only facilities are the best way to contain the virus.

“If I were in charge, these dedicated facilities would be around for awhile,” Listro said, “because personally, I believe that isolation in dedicated facilities mitigates the deaths that we’ve seen in nursing homes. This virus likes density.”

As Gasoline Sits Unsold, State Issues Waivers To Distributors 

The state has issued a temporary waiver that will allow gas distributors to sell a higher-polluting mix of winter-blend gasoline for a longer window of time.

Gas retailers usually switch to a less-polluting and slightly more efficient “summer-blend” of gasoline in the spring. But with fewer drivers on Connecticut roads because of the COVID-19 lockdown, there are now unsold stockpiles of winter-blend gas.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Consumer Protection issued the temporary joint waiver on Thursday.

“There continues to exist an unexpected oversupply of higher volatility winter-blend gasoline, as a result of changed behavior in response to COVID-19, which cannot be sold,” wrote state regulators.

The state waiver extends the amount of time that “winter-blend” gasoline can be sold.

The waiver will remain in effect until the unsold gas is depleted.

Bridgeport first responders eligible for tests

All Bridgeport first responders will be able to be tested for COVID-19 on Saturday or Wednesday May 6 at Central High School by PhysicianOne Urgent Care, according to city officials, but all seeking the test will need to register online.

First responders seeking to be tested on Saturday needed to register by 8 p.m. Thursday and those wanting tests on May 6 would need to sign up by 8 p.m. Monday.

The online registration site is at www.physicianoneurgentcare.com/Bridgeport and those who do register will be notified via texts to the cell phones of the first responders, officials said.

Congresswoman Jahana Hayes enters COVID-19 quarantine

U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) said Thursday she’ll be quarantining at home for the next two weeks after her husband, a police detective in Waterbury, tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed to the virus at work.

In a statement, Hayes said her husband is “healthy and asymptomatic.” She also said her own test came back negative. Hayes said that while some are pushing Congress to get back to Washington, she thinks there’s danger in returning prematurely.

“This test result in my own family has reinforced that we still have a ways to go,” Hayes said. “I urge everyone to continue to follow CDC guidance, continue to stay home, and continue to socially distance and wash your hands frequently.”

Read more about it here.

Mohegan Sun to remain closed over COVID-19 concerns

Mohegan Sun announced this week that it will remain closed through at least May 12, citing ongoing concerns over the health crisis. Casino officials had originally planned to reopen at the end of the week.

Both Mohegan and Foxwoods Resort Casino agreed to close last month. They are not required to follow Lamont’s shutdown directives since they’re sovereign tribal nations. Foxwoods has not announced a reopening date, but has cancelled hotel reservations until May 17 and postponed or cancelled all shows and events originally scheduled for May.

Ikea donates furniture to New Haven

Ikea New Haven says it’s donating over $17,000 in furniture and home goods to the city of New Haven’s health department to help those experiencing homelessness.

The retailer said in a statement that the city is working to move people out of shelters — where social distancing is difficult — into apartments. Ikea says its donation will help furnish key essentials for 30 units, including kitchen tables and chairs, pots and pans, bed frames and mattresses.

It’s part of a nationwide, $1.6 million donation from the company.

CT Mirror reporter Greg Hladky contributed to this story. It also contains information from the Associated Press.

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