Variant of COVID-19 found in state

Variant of COVID-19 found in state



The first two known cases of a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus have been detected in Connecticut, the governor said Thursday.

The two people, described as between ages 15 and 25, live in New Haven County and each had traveled recently outside the state, one to Ireland and one to New York state. Genetic sequencing showed the cases are unrelated, the governor’s office said.

“As we said last week, given the speed of this new strand of the virus and its identification in several states throughout our country, we presumed it was already in our state and this information this morning confirms that fact,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat.

The more contagious variant of the virus was first identified in the United Kingdom. A Connecticut state laboratory upgraded its testing efforts last week to look for the variant, the governor’s office said.

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In other developments related to the coronavirus:

The ability to install cameras in rooms, a statewide visitation policy and full-time infection control specialists are among recommendations by members of a committee considering pandemic-inspired changes at Connecticut nursing homes.

Members are also suggesting that Lamont sign an executive order allowing residents of long-term care facilities to designate an “essential caregiver” for in-person visits.

“There were a lot of people that wasted away because of their lack of being able to see family,” said state Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, who co-chairs a subcommittee of the Nursing Home and Assisted Living Oversight Working Group that is focusing on improvements to socialization, visitation and caregiver engagement. “I think that we need to start recognizing there is a component that we need to pay attention to in people’s social and emotional well-being.”

Four subcommittees are presenting their recommendations this week and next to the full panel, which will then forward them to the appropriate committees in the General Assembly addressing issues raised during the pandemic.

As of Dec. 31, more than 4,500 nursing home residents in Connecticut had died of COVID 19-related causes, about 75% of the state’s total such deaths.

The subcommittee focusing on the response by nursing homes to the outbreak and the continued surveillance of the coronavirus is recommending the qualifications for the infection control specialists be expanded. Also, the group said, these should be full-time positions with rotating hours, so different shifts can be monitored.

They also want information about residents’ rights and infection control procedures to be posted in both English and Spanish.

“We want people who come into the building to know what they should be seeing and we want the residents to know what they should be seeing and what to expect when it comes to infection prevention in the facility,” said Sen. Mary Abrams, D-Meriden, a subcommittee co-chair who also is co-leader of the legislature’s Public Health Committee.

The subcommittee is also recommending that all staff at assisted living facilities be trained in infection prevention procedures; that nursing homes have at least one staff member certified to start an IV; that nursing homes have a three-supply of personal protective equipment in various sizes for staff; quarterly fittings of N-95 masks for staff instead of annual; and a clearly defined rule that protective equipment can be reused only in a crisis.


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