By Dave Collins
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Children’s Medical Center furloughed 400 workers because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has caused elective and other surgeries to be delayed and the number of patients to decline, according to officials with the Hartford-based medical system.
The furloughs are for 60 days and affect about 14% of the system’s workforce of 2,800, The Hartford Courant reported. Medical center officials expect all the furloughed employees to return to their jobs, maybe by early June.
The virus outbreak has caused patient volumes to decline by about half, costing the medical center $7.5 million to $9 million a month, said James Shmerling, president and chief executive officer at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Shmerling said he expects the medical center to become busy again in the summer as surgeries are rescheduled.
The medical center has had about a dozen patients with COVID-19 symptoms, far from the volume at other hospitals. Officials said they would accept children from other hospitals to help them free beds to treat adults with the coronavirus disease.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
There will be stricter rules at Connecticut’s parks to maintain social distancing.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been authorized by Gov. Ned Lamont to prohibit walk-in visitors and limit parking capacity. The move comes after some state parks have been crowded with visitors eager to enjoy the outdoors.
In some cases, when parking lots became full, additional visitors parked outside entrances and walked in.
Under Lamont’s latest order, the environmental department may impose penalties, including fines and arrest, for those who enter parks that have reached capacity. Lamont has previously prohibited social and recreational gatherings of more than five individuals.
Visitors are urged to first check for park closures by following @CTStateParks on Twitter.
NATIONAL GUARD CASES
Two members of the Connecticut National Guard are among the latest state residents to test positive for COVID-19.
An airman assigned to the 103rd Airlift Wing in East Granby tested positive March 27, and a soldier assigned to Joint Force Headquarters who works in Middletown tested positive the next day, National Guard officials said. They were the first guardsmen to contract the virus.
The airman, between 20 and 30 years old, is hospitalized and has not been at the Bradley Air National Guard base since March 8, officials said. He trains one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. The soldier, a woman between 40 and 50 years old, is recovering at home, officials said.
The state Military Department is monitoring the two guardsmen and people they had contact with, authorities said. Officials said work areas have received a deep cleaning and health protection measures are in place.
ANOTHER COURTHOUSE CLOSURE
State judicial officials have closed Stamford Superior Court to the public until further notice after some employees were exposed to a co-worker who had symptoms that could indicate COVID-19.
Judge Patrick Carroll III, the chief court administrator, said the employees in question have been instructed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, or until the worker who showed symptoms receives test results.
Cases at the Stamford courthouse will be transferred to Bridgeport.
Judicial officials have closed courthouses across the state in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Eight courthouses remain open for limited purposes, as well as juvenile courts in Hartford and Bridgeport.
Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report.