Connecticut expands travel advisory to 16 states, national experts warn of virus spread
Connecticut added eight states Tuesday to its travel advisory suggesting that travelers quarantine for two weeks after coming here.
Meanwhile, as the state reported just over 150 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor warned the U.S. could experience 100,000 new cases a day.
Gov. Ned Lamont added California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee to the list of states that fall under the tri-state travel advisory with New York and New Jersey. The governors of the three northeast states said last week that people coming from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah are urged to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the region.
Travelers from the 16 states impacted by the advisory can also get tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arrival in Connecticut. If the test is negative, the quarantine will be lifted, the governor said.
In Connecticut, there won’t be any fines or penalties if travelers don’t comply. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said there may be fines in his state for violators, suggesting $2,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for repeat offenses.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that travelers from Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey would not have to quarantine if coming to his state. Massachusetts has had a recommended 14-day quarantine in place since March 27.
Meanwhile, many travelers from the United States will not be allowed to fly to Europe when borders open Wednesday. The European Union will open its external borders Wednesday, but left the U.S. off a list of 15 travel partners. The EU allows member countries to implement the ban, but advises countries to not unilaterally lift travel restrictions.
Connecticut COVID numbers decline, U.S. Senate hears stark warning
The governor’s office announced 152 new cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 46,514 overall in the state. There was one less hospitalization reported Tuesday, with 98 patients currently in hospitals with COVID-19. Two more people died with the virus for a total of 4,322 deaths in the state associated with COVID-19.
New tests topped an all-time high, according to Lamont, with 21,416 tests reported in the last day. The infection rate of new cases to new tests dropped to seventh-tenths of 1%.
“Today’s metrics, with an all-time high in tests reported and all-time low in test positivity rate, reflect momentum in our testing strategy and discipline from the people of Connecticut,” Lamont tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
The news was not as good nationally. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 35,664 new cases Tuesday. There were 41,390 new cases reported by the CDC Monday and 44,703 and 44,602 new cases Sunday and Saturday respectively.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, told the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday that he could see the number of new daily cases doubling.
“We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around and so I am very concerned,” Fauci said.
Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield both told senate committee members that people need to wear masks and social distance to slow the spread of the disease.
Youth employment program to get additional $2 million
Lamont announced on Tuesday that the state will release $2 million from the Coronavirus Relief Funds to help community-based agencies hire teens and young adults. The money dedicated to the Connecticut Youth Employment Program is in addition to $4.5 million the state already allocated for the program.
The jobs may include virtual outreach through social media to promote safer health practices, delivery of educational materials to community and other organizations and outreach and assistance to homebound families, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Organizers said the additional money for the program is needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to promote employment opportunities for our youth and young adults in raising public awareness of the COVID-19 crisis,” Catherine N. Awwad, executive director of the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, said in a statement.
Sacred Heart, Goodwin and The Paier College to join the University Of Bridgeport campus
Lamont was on hand Tuesday at the University of Bridgeport to announce Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Goodwin University, in East Hartford and The Paier College of Art in Hamden, all will share a presence on the Bridgeport campus.
Some programs are likely to be combined or to shift from one school to another, according to a statement from the University of Bridgeport. Goodwin, Sacred Heart, and Paier will assume a number of academic programs now being offered by the University of Bridgeport, the statement said. But the University of Bridgeport will retain its board of trustees and continue to operate as an independent institution.
The new educational collaborative is welcomed in the city. “This is an exciting time for the University of Bridgeport as higher education is reimagined in collaboration with three institutions that are each known for excellence in academic concentrations,” Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim said in a statement.
The timetable for the educational cohort will depend on approval from each institutions’ board of directors and academic accreditation of programs, the statement said.
Single use plastic bag fee and campers both return Wednesday
Among Lamont’s COVID-19 precautions in March was an executive order suspending Connecticut’s 10-cent fee on single-use plastic bags. The order is set to expire Wednesday — July 1 — when retailers again are required to collect the fee.
Early in the pandemic, some retailers set policy preventing employees from bagging groceries in reusable bags brought from home by the customer.
“According to guidance from the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), given the most current scientific information available, reusable bags do not serve as a significant source of infection for COVID-19,” the Department of Revenue Services said in a statement last week.
Stop & Shop will continue to encourage customers to bag their own groceries.
“We have instituted policies in our stores requesting customers to bag their own groceries if they are bringing reusable bags with them during their shopping trip to better adhere to safety and sanitation standards,” Stop & Shop spokeswoman Maura O’Brien said in a statement to Connecticut Public Radio. She said Stop & Shop will be charging a 10 cent fee per paper or plastic bag beginning Wednesday.
Consumers are advised to wash reusable bags between uses and to wipe down surfaces with disinfecting wipes.
Connecticut continues to be on track to eliminate single-use, plastic bags by July 2021.
Campers can return to 14 state parks and forests Wednesday, but only if they are using a recreational vehicle with a working bathroom and water system and if they have made a reservation in advance. Campgrounds will open to all campers — including tent campers — beginning on July 8.
Big E, Minor League Baseball canceled
The easing of restrictions and improving trends in New England were not enough to save the Big E for 2020. Organizers of The Eastern States Exposition announced Monday that the fair drawing more than a million visitors from throughout New England and New York was canceled for this year.
“This decision was difficult and complex, but we all know in our hearts that it’s the right thing to do for the health and safety of the 1.6 million people who support us each year,” Gene Cassidy, the president and CEO of The Big E, said in a video message Monday.
The fair is scheduled for September 17 through October 3, 2021, according to the fair’s website that already is counting down the days.
And Minor League Baseball has officially canceled its 2020 season.
The Hartford Yard Goats announced the move Tuesday, saying that anyone who bought tickets for the 2020 home game will be contacted by a team representative.
The team attracted over one-million fans over its first three seasons in Hartford. Last year saw 51 sellouts.
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