By Susan Haigh
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday he’s considering narrowing the list of businesses considered essential to keep people home, predicting April will be a “horrible month” for coronavirus cases in Connecticut.
Lamont said more needs to be done to persuade young people that social distancing is crucial to reducing the spread of the virus, noting the infection rate is expected to peak in Connecticut over the coming weeks.
“We’re definitely at a point where you’ve got to stay home and probably we have to take a look at what is an essential worker and to continue to tighten that up in terms of any possible confusion,” Lamont said during an interview on WPLR FM. “I’m looking at more ways to keep people at home, at least for this 30-day period.”
Lamont said he’s been hesitant to close the state’s large parks, but worries when he sees large groups of young people congregating, such as playing basketball, and not taking social distancing seriously.
“Certainly I think that April is going to be a horrible month,” Lamont said, basing his prediction on how the virus spread overseas and in Seattle.
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.
Other coronavirus developments in Connecticut:
Officials at Mohegan Sun announced Tuesday that the Uncasville casino and entertainment complex will remain closed to the public for two more weeks, beginning April 1, and will continue work with the Mohegan Tribal Council and the governor’s office “to monitor federal health and safety guidelines as we evaluate our reopening date options.”
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation announced Monday that its Foxwoods Resort Casino will also remain closed, pending further recommendations from officials.
COVID-19 BEHAVIORAL STUDY
A UConn researcher has been awarded a $182,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct a yearlong study into how behavior and social attitudes change in the U.S. during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Natalie Shook, a social psychologist, plans to follow 1,000 people, who will be asked to provide answers to a 15-minute questionnaire numerous times over the next 12 months. The questions will cover subjects ranging from behaviors, such as hand-washing, to shifts in social beliefs. The idea is to determine what strategies or interventions can be used in the future to get a stronger response from the public and help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
NEW CONFIRMED CASES
Two Waterbury school employees and the top executive of the Bristol Health system are among the latest state residents to test positive for COVID-19.
Waterbury school officials said one employee is a food service worker at Wilby High School who had been serving students and families picking up meals while schools are closed. The other is an instructional staff member at Gilmartin Elementary School.
The city’s emergency management director told the Republican-American there was virtually no chance the food service worker, who has been staying home since March 23, infected parents and students because transmission of the virus is not food-borne.
Bristol Health President and Chief Executive Officer Kurt Barwis announced Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be self-quarantining at home for 14 days.
Hartford officials said five more city police officers have tested positive, bringing the total to nine. In New Haven, a police officer and a firefighter are the first city public safety employees to test positive, and several others are awaiting test results, officials said.
Five patients and two workers at Connecticut Valley Hospital and five patients at Whiting Forensic Hospital in Middletown have tested positive, the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services reported.
MOBILE FOOD PANTRIES
United Way of Southeastern Connecticut has suspended its mobile food pantries sites until further notice because a large number of volunteers is needed to bag and distribute the food, making social distancing nearly impossible, the Day of New London reported. The 10 mobile sites — in Norwich, Groton, New London, Colchester, Salem, Jewett City, and Stonington — provide perishable items, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, to supplement 66 food pantries and emergency sites that will remain open.
Associated Press Writers Pat Eaton-Robb and Dave Collins contributed to this report.