St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s first COVID-19 patient, Rodney Davis, 21, of Bridgeport, hugs nurse Jen Marrocco as he is released Thursday after recovering from the virus. Several health care workers from the hospital’s ICU took part in the sendoff. Davis was in a coma for one of the two months he spent there. “I feel much better,” he said. “I just want to go home.” Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org
St. Vincent’s Medical Center’s first COVID-19 patient, Rodney Davis, 21, of Bridgeport, hugs nurse Jen Marrocco as he is released Thursday after recovering from the virus. Several health care workers from the hospital’s ICU took part in the sendoff. Davis was in a coma for one of the two months he spent there. “I feel much better,” he said. “I just want to go home.” Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Hospitalizations from the coronavirus continued to decline in the state, Gov. Ned Lamont reported Saturday, but another 58 residents died from infection.

The administration also issued 800 computer tablets to Connecticut nursing homes this weekend to facilitate virtual visits in time for Mother’s Day.

According to the governor’s mid-afternoon report Saturday, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 had declined by 35 during the 24-hour period ending 8:30 p.m. on Friday. 

This marks the 16th time in 17 days that hospitalizations from the virus have declined in Connecticut. The outlier was reported on May 5, when hospitalizations increased by 36.

The administration also reported Saturday that, with the 58 new deaths, a total of 2,932 residents have died from the coronavirus. State health officials also reported 573 new positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 32,984 confirmed cases.

The federal guidelines for states involving reopening of businesses and other services urges a “downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period” or a downward trend of positive tests as a percentage of total tests within two weeks.

Lamont, who is aiming for a gradual reopening in Connecticut starting May 20, published more than 45 pages of written guidance late Friday for stores, hair salons, offices and other businesses. He has not said if he would defer a May 20 reopening if the state fails to meet CDC guidelines.

Facilitating virtual nursing home visits

The governor issued a new executive order Saturday directing nursing homes — which largely are prohibited from allowing visitors during the public health crisis — to facilitate “alternative means of communications” when practical between residents and their family members.

Donna Sullivan visits with her long-time partner, Walter Zbikowski, separated by a window at Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield on a recent Sunday. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

To complement the governor’s order and accommodate these virtual visits, the Department of Public Health spent $300,000 to supply the state’s 213 nursing homes with iPads, said spokesman Av Harris. The computer equipment was purchased using funds collected from civil penalties imposed over the years on nursing homes, he said.

The state’s two largest nursing home associations said the governor’s order mirrors their own efforts to help residents stay in touch, safely, with their loved ones.

“Our nursing homes have recognized from the beginning the importance of these integral family communications,” Matthew V. Barrett, president of the Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities, and Mag Morelli, president of LeadingAge Connecticut, wrote in a joint statement. “Nursing homes understand that residents and families are struggling during this time of no in-person visitation and they have been creatively providing alternative means of communication.”

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.

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