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By Susan Haigh
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont on Wednesday tried to assure residents that the state is ready with a coordinated response to deal with anticipated cases of the COVID-19 virus, while acknowledging the situation is changing fast.
While there have been no infections identified so far in Connecticut, State Epidemiologist Dr. Matthew Cartter said efforts by the U.S. to contain the virus will only slow it down, adding “it’s no good pretending it’s not going to come” and there is now a window of opportunity to prepare for possible transmission in the state.
“Like the old saying, better to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Cartter said. “And right now, it’s time to prepare.”
Asked about the potential number of cases Connecticut could expect, Cartter said a “reasonable planning target at the present time” would be a flu season with no vaccine or anti-virus. Each year, roughly 500 people die in Connecticut from the flu.
Lamont held a media briefing at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Hartford with Cartter, the state’s hospital association CEO, doctors and other officials on Wednesday evening, shortly before President Trump made an announcement about the federal response to the virus. Lamont, a Democrat, said state Public Health Commissioner Renee D. Coleman-Mitchell was in Washington, D.C., meeting with other state health directors and federal officials about the situation and her office is taking the lead on Connecticut’s response.
He said his administration was working with the state’s congressional delegation on securing needed federal funds. Based on past grant allotments, Connecticut officials expect to receive about 1% of what the federal government ultimately dedicates to the virus.
“This is not a call to make you nervous. It’s a call to give you confidence that we’re ready for what’s going forward here. Give you confidence that we’ve got the best people here in the state of Connecticut who have been on this, not just today, but for weeks going forward,” said Lamont, noting that state emergency officials trained for a possible pandemic in August.
On Wednesday, Michael Spera, the Old Saybrook Police Chief and president of the Connecticut Emergency Management Association, raised concerns in a letter to Lamont about a lack of protective equipment for emergency responders. Asked about the letter at the news conference, Lamont said “there’s a scramble” across the country for supplies such as face masks, but that the state’s hospitals have a supply and are currently working to secure additional protective equipment.
Lamont urged the public to stay informed by checking the state’s website for continuous updates, including infectious disease planning information for schools and ways members of the public can protect themselves.