Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at Bradley International Airport about new quarantine procedures for travelers coming to Connecticut from some states with high infection rates. Tyler Russell | CT Public Radio
Gov. Ned Lamont speaks at Bradley International Airport about new quarantine procedures for travelers coming to Connecticut from some states with high infection rates. Tyler Russell | CT Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont touted Connecticut’s low COVID-19 infection rate Thursday on a visit to Bradley International Airport to highlight the state’s new quarantine guidelines for out of state travelers.

Lamont visited the Windsor Locks airport to promote new signs around the airport urging travelers coming from high-infection states to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Visitors coming from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina,  Texas and Utah need to self-quarantine.

”Your cooperation is expected,” the signs say. Travelers are urged to check the governor’s website for quarantine guidelines.

Connecticut now has one of the lowest transmission rates in the nation for COVID-19. On Wednesday, Lamont and the governors of New York and New Jersey jointly announced  protocols for self-quarantine measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus by visitors from states experiencing a resurgence of the disease and an alarming spike in hospitalizations.

There were 81 additional cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut reported Thursday after 6,576 more tests in the last day, according to state health data. There were two more hospitalizations reported Thursday, with 122 patients currently hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state. A total of 4,298 people have died in the state from COVID-19, with 11 more deaths reported Thursday.

The daily count of confirmed cases across the U.S. stands near the peak reached during late April. According to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University, the 34,500 national COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday were slightly fewer than the day before, but still close to the U.S. daily high of 36,400 from April.

State ConnectiCorps program announced to help nonprofits 

Lamont was joined by nonprofit leaders Thursday at Foodshare, in Bloomfield, to announce the ConnectiCorps program — an effort designed to match young people with jobs to support food security, housing and anti-poverty assistance organizations.

A grant from the Hartford Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund and state and federal AmeriCorps grants will fund the program. No state money is involved in the $800,000 effort. Rather, it will be funded with $450,000 from the federal government and $200,000 from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The remaining $150,000 will come from other charitable sources.

Sixty to 80 part-time members of ConnectiCorps, who will receive a stipend, will work at 20 nonprofits in Connecticut, according to the governor’s office. They’ll , and provide up to 90,000 total hours of service.

Participants will also be eligible for money to pay tuition or repay student loans, the governor’s office said.

Serve Connecticut, part of the Office of Higher Education, and the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance will run the ConnectiCorps program and organize participants.

“The model proposed by the Alliance has the makings of becoming a national ‘how-to’ manual on building and sustaining volunteer capacity through any unexpected crisis. Serve Connecticut is thrilled to be at the forefront of this effort,” Jacqueline Johnson, Executive Director of Serve Connecticut, said in a statement.

First round of Travelers Championship without fans

The first round of the Travelers Championship teed off at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell Thursday without fans in attendance. Golfers said the event, which typically draws more than 200,000 spectators over the week, felt different.

Abraham Ancer hit the first hole-in-one of his PGA Tour career on Thursday morning but he said his celebration was muted.

“It was very anticlimactic because there was nobody out there and we couldn’t high-five or anything, but still, it was awesome to have my first PGA TOUR ace,”  Ancer said, according to the PGA’s media center.

Five golfers withdrew from the Travelers Championship due to concerns over COVID-19.

Tournament officials boasted that nine of the top 10 golfers on the PGA Tour had made the trip tp Cromwell, but Brooks Koepka, No. 4, and  Webb Simpson, No. 5, officially withdrew Wednesday voluntarily.  Koepka’s caddie, Ricky Elliott,  tested positive for COVID-19 this week while a family member of Simpson’s tested positive.

Koepka’s brother, Chase, also voluntarily withdrew after just winning a spot in the tournament Monday through a qualifying event in Avon.

Earlier this week, PGA Tour Pro Cameron Champ announced his withdrawal after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Graeme McDowell withdrew from the tournament after his caddie, Ken Comboy, tested positive.

Union workers walk off the job at Darien Service Plaza 

The 32BJ SEIU labor union organized a walk out of employees at the McDonald’s at the Darien Service Plaza off I-95, after the union said two employees at the restaurant contracted the coronavirus. The union is asking the restaurant to rehire seven employees laid off at the start of the pandemic, provide sick pay for employees with confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 through quarantine and clean and disinfect the restaurant properly.

Project Service LLC, which operates the restaurant, said it has followed Lamont’s “Safe Store” rules and disinfected the restaurant according to state guidelines, according to a statement sent to Connecticut Public Radio.

State Rep. Matt Blumenthal (D-Darien) was among officials who addressed workers Thursday in the parking lot of the service plaza. ”We shouldn’t just thank essential workers,” Blumenthal said. “We have to pay them and respect them, including respecting their right to organize.”

Virtual roundtable on resources for seniors during COVID-19 pandemic 

Panelists on a virtual roundtable moderated by Lt. Gov.Susan Bysiewicz Thursday emphasized the importance of maintaining COVID-19 guidelines while also addressing social isolation of seniors during the pandemic.

Stay Home, Stay Safe protocols are still in place for residents over 65 years old, Amy Porter, Commissioner of the Department of Aging and Disability Services, said. She said she urges maintaining social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks for seniors and those around them.

The AARP of Connecticut echoed the advice. “Maintaining all the appropriate protocols are important for everyone,” John Erlingheuser, advocacy director at AARP, said.

Seniors in nursing and assisted living facilities continue to be an area of focus for state officials, Mairead Painter, the state ombudsman for long-term care, said.

“It’s difficult to balance infectious control with social/emotional needs,” she said.

Painter encouraged families to join her weekly Facebook Live discussions and Q&A session.She said state nursing homes are slowly reopening along with the phased return of businesses in the state, citing the possibility of family visits with residents held outside.

Some residential students to return to UConn two weeks early

Students who plan to live on campus at UConn in Storrs will have to return two weeks early, before classes begin.

UConn officials said students will be brought back to campus on Aug. 14, tested for COVID-19 and placed in a modified quarantine before classes start on Aug. 31. The school says it will have about 70 percent of its normal capacity for housing, with priority being given to students who live furthest away from campus, first-year students and others with special needs.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.

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