Foodshare, a regional food bank, distributes food to thousands of Connecticut residents facing food insecurity because of the coronavirus pandemic at UConn's Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

As Connecticut’s death toll continues to climb and the number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations continue to decline, Gov. Ned Lamont is calling for volunteers — people who can help children and adults with intellectual disabilities and those who can help get groceries and meals to senior citizens.

“I’m grateful to everyone who is stepping forward – and I ask that you keep pitching in, and invite others to join you so that we can meet the needs of our neighbors and communities over the coming weeks and months,” Lamont said in a statement Sunday.

Sunday’s update saw 35 more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total to 2,967. An additional 570 positive cases of COVID-19 and 6,623 tests were reported — the administration attributed the latter to a “catch up of labs” that reported additional data to the state in the last 24 hours.

Lamont also reported 59 fewer hospitalizations, continuing a trend — it’s the 17th time in 18 days that hospitalizations from the virus have declined in Connecticut.

As the state continues to grapple with the domino effect of coronavirus on its healthcare system, economy and schools, the Lamont administration said volunteers will be essential.

The call for volunteers also includes people who can help the state’s food banks address record numbers of families and individuals facing food insecurity.

“Our emergency food distribution system has never been more important, and volunteer labor is critical to making sure that we can meet the need of families who require our support right now,” said Jason Jakubowski, president of the foodbank, Foodshare.

More than 5,000 medical volunteers and 1,600 non-medical volunteers have assisted in hospitals, food banks, shelters, and in other capacities since the pandemic began, according to a press release.

Reopen Connecticut to hold public roundtable

On Monday, the governor’s Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group will host an education roundtable with education officials aimed at addressing questions surrounding reopening schools, colleges and universities in the fall.

The group has taken some criticism for doing much of its work out of the public eye. The public roundtable will be moderated by Mark Ojakian, president of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities. The panel will include various state education and public health officials, education labor leaders, and the presidents of the University of Connecticut, Yale University and Trinity College. Questions can be emailed to the group in advance, and the conversation will be broadcast live on television and online.

UConn holds virtual commencement

UConn hosted its virtual commencement for the class of 2020 on Saturday afternoon, with tentative plans for an in-person graduation in October. The university awarded 8,912 degrees to students in its bachelors, masters and doctoral programs, including more than 1,800 first generation college students. Members of the class of 2020 took to Facebook to share their accomplishments using the hashtag #UConn20.

The online ceremony featured remarks from the university’s first Rhodes scholar, senior Wanjiku Gatheru, Lamont and UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma. Auriemma called the pandemic the graduating class’ “defining moment.

“Now this is your time. This will define your generation. This is you now. Everybody’s looking for answers — maybe you get to provide the answers,” Auriemma said. “Maybe somebody in this class comes up with the answers so these things that are happening now, won’t happen again.”

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