COVID Update 7.21July 21, 2020
There is a lot happening in state government this week. Leading into special session, which we expect to begin on Thursday morning, July 23, there are a number of “listening sessions” and informational hearings. The first of those took place last Friday, when the Judiciary Committee held a twelve-hour long listening session (via Zoom) on “An Act Concerning Police Accountability” (otherwise known as AACPA, or LCO No. 3471). I listened to the entire hearing (shout out to my family for bringing meals and snacks to me at regular intervals) and found it invaluable.If we’re going to avoid polarization, with everyone retreating to their corners with a set of talking points handed out by interest groups, you have to put in the time to deeply understand an issue, and to listen to people with a wide variety of fervently held views. There is a lot of emotion and fear surrounding these particular issues, and giving people the opportunity to express their position is a critical part of the process. After the hearing, I spent most of the next day on the phone with other legislators, many of them reaching out because they knew I had been there for the entire hearing. I did some more research on my own, and then I passed my views on changes I believe should be made to that bill to Judiciary Committee leadership, who are now working on those amendments.
The three other bills we will consider this week will also have listening sessions, and there is a hearing on nursing homes – all of these can be viewed on CT-N.com
- Tuesday, July 21 starting at 10am: Insurance & Real Estate Committee: Capping the cost of Insulin and Increasing Access to Telehealth Services Listening Session
- Tuesday, July 21 starting at 1pm: Public Health Committee & Human Services Committee: Impact of the COVID Crisis on Nursing Home Industry Joint Informational Hearing
- Tuesday, July 21 starting at 2pm: Government Administration & Elections Committee: Absentee Voting (LCO No. 3576)
One topic of significant concern that will not be addressed in special session is the re-opening of our schools, as the deadline for school systems to submit their plans is this Friday, July 24. Region One Schools released a proposed plan to all Boards of Education earlier this week, as have a number of other school systems throughout the state. Each school in the state serves a different population, in different infrastructure, so there will be a wide variety in plans. Each plan will also include contingencies based on public health data at the time of re-opening, as well as plans for changes that may occur. Any family who decides their child is not ready to return to school will be able to learn from home, or to attend in-person on a limited schedule. It will be very complex, and require flexibility and adaptation, and I look forward to having many conversations about this issue in the coming weeks.
And, I will be hosting another FB Live Town Hall with Town Clerks on Wednesday, July 22 at 6pm, focusing on how to make sure your absentee ballot is counted. (See more information below.)
Here’s a list of today’s topics:
- Governor Lamont launches Connecticut Workforce Development Unit
- Department of Labor system experienced temporary shut down over the weekend
- Connecticut’s Farm Wineries are open for guests
- UPCOMING EVENTS:
- Facebook Live Town Hall on voting by absentee, Part II: July 22 at 6pm
- Virtual Dairy Farm Tour of Freund’s Farm in East Canaan July 22 at 6pm
For several additional graphs and tables containing more data, including a list of cases in every municipality, visit ct.gov/coronavirus and click the link that is labeled, “COVID-19 Data Tracker.”
Governor Lamont launches Connecticut Workforce Development Unit
Governor Ned Lamont announced the creation of the Connecticut Workforce Development Unit – a state office that will be responsible for developing workforce policy around a common strategy and set of goals. The unit, housed within the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), will collaborate with the commissioners of DECD and the Department of Labor to directly advise the governor and other state entities on various workforce strategies and initiatives. It will be committed to crafting policies and goals for educators, businesses, nonprofits, and state agencies to develop curricula and programs that are accessible, inclusive, and aligned with the needs of employers.
The workforce development initiative grows out of the creation of the Governor’s Workforce Council in October, and has most recently featured the CT Back to Work Initiative.
Department of Labor system experienced temporary shut down over the weekend
This past weekend the Connecticut Department of Labor (DOL) experienced system failures as a result of the extreme heat. Work to restore and repair the system since then is ongoing, but please know that no data has been lost. Approximately 25% of the weekly unemployment insurance (UI) filers were not able to access and certify claims through the CT Tax and Benefit System (CTABS) as of Monday, but they will have until 8:00pm on Friday 7/24/2020 to do so without interruption of payments.
Connecticut’s Farm Wineries are open for guests
Connecticut is home to a number of beautiful farm wineries, including several in our region. In addition to being an obvious place to get award-winning CT-grown wines, they are a key driver of tourism in the state and have ample outdoor space that offers guests the opportunity to take in scenic vistas and a range of different wines while practicing proper social distancing and safety guidelines.
To find a farm winery near you, visit https://ctwine.com/wineries
Facebook Live Town Hall on voting by absentee, Part II: July 22 at 6:00 pm
On July 15, I hosted a conversation on Facebook Live with Town Clerks Carol Anderson of Torrington and Linda Amerighi of Sharon, and Registrar of Voters Karin Gerstel of Salisbury. We focused on the absentee ballot application that was mailed to all eligible voters (those registered in a political party) for the upcoming primary election on August 11. This week, on Wednesday, July 22 at 6 pm, I will host Part II of that conversation, this time focusing on how to make sure your absentee ballot gets counted. For those who have filed an application to vote by absentee in the primary, your absentee ballot will be arriving as early as this week. In order to ensure their security, the requirements for completing an absentee ballot can be complicated, so we’ll review some common mistakes, the laws on absentee ballots, and take questions you may have. (If you have a question, please email it to me at Maria.Horn@cga.ct.gov, or just reply to this newsletter.)
Unfortunately, this FB Town Hall is at the same time as the Virtual Dairy Farm Tour described below, so if you can’t join us, you will be able to watch the video later on Facebook. If you’re not on Facebook and want to watch the video, just email me by replying to this newsletter and I’ll let you know where you can find it.
Virtual Dairy Farm Tour of Freund’s Farm in East Canaan July 22 at 6pm
Connecticut Milk Promotion Board, in collaboration with New England Dairy, invites us all to a live virtual farm tour at Freund’s Farm in East Canaan, Connecticut on Wednesday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. for a live video tour and chat with dairy farmer Amanda Freund.
Using video chat technology, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at life on a dairy farm. Learn firsthand how dairy farmers care for their cows, the land and environment, and their communities by producing a safe and nutritious product. Participants will have the opportunity to send questions to be answered live by the dairy farmer and dairy experts during the tour.
For details, or to register, click here.
Governor Lamont encourages residents to sign up for the state’s CTAlert notification system
Governor Lamont is encouraging Connecticut residents to sign up for CTAlert, the state’s emergency alert system, which provides text message notifications to users. To subscribe, text the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.
Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including an FAQ and other guidance and resources, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance. Relay services can be accessed by calling 7-1-1. Anyone who is out-of-state or using Relay can connect to Connecticut 2-1-1 toll free by dialing 1-800-203-1234. The hotline is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider.