My desk at home looks onto our patio and garden, where my husband and I have just finished taking down the umbrellas and moving the potted plants and a few folding chairs into safer spots in preparation for the high winds and heavy rain that may be coming our way courtesy of Tropical Storm Isaias. At the moment it is very calm – I have to look really hard even to see leaves in motion – which makes it an excellent time to get prepared for the uncertainty that may lie ahead. And having seen a tornado touch town in Sharon, Salisbury, and Falls Village just a couple of days ago, we know that the potential for damage is real.
It feels a little like what we are going in CT right now with COVID-19 as we plan to re-open our schools. We have been through some very difficult times over the past months, but now our public health data is among the best in the country, by some metrics the absolute best. We have been guided by science, adapted, and been disciplined about changing our own habits, and it has worked. Because of that, we are in a far better position than most other states to try to re-open our schools for in-person learning as much as possible, and for as long as the public health data suggests we can continue to do that safely. We know that we have to try, as many students were left behind by school closures this spring. But it is a risk: each of the four school districts within the 64th District has submitted a plan (actually, at least three plans each) to re-open as best they can, using the physical infrastructure they have, adjusting for the student populations they serve and the dedicated faculty and staff that are the heart and soul of our schools. It is complicated, and it may require further sacrifice from the rest of the community: in order to ensure that every student can get the education they deserve, we may all have to be extra strict about our own habits.
I hope you can join me tomorrow for my conversation on FB Live with Dr. Ulysses Wu, an infectious disease specialist with Hartford Hospital, Wednesday August 5 at 7pm, to talk about what the path forward might look like.
And, please stay safe during the coming storm!
Here’s a list of today’s topics:
- Guidance for decision-making regarding the use of in-person, hybrid (blended), or remote learning models in Connecticut schools during COVID-19
- Regional travel advisory updates
- Community Health & Wellness event on Wednesday, August 12
- Eversource update
- Extension: Utility Protection for Low Income Families
- Changes in leadership at Nuvance
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.”
Guidance for decision-making regarding the use of in-person, hybrid (blended), or remote learning models in Connecticut schools during COVID-19
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and State Department of Education (SDE) have developed a framework and key metrics based on a combination of considerations to guide local district decision-making on the use of remote vs. in-person learning for the fall. This includes indicators of the spread and prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, as well as the physical and operational ability of schools to implement strategies to mitigate spread.
Adapted from recommendations by the Harvard Global Institute and supplemented by existing DPH measures, DPH and SDE recommend using the number of new cases, adjusted for population, as the key leading metric for community spread with suggested thresholds for differential risk categories. Each week, DPH, SDE, and local health departments will review the public health data and make any recommended changes between the “low,” “moderate,” and “high” categories by county. Leading and secondary indicators will also be updated by DPH on a weekly basis.
The “low” and “moderate” categories indicate conditions in the area are appropriate for schools to provide at least a partial in-school option to students. For districts in the “low” or “moderate” categories that decide not to provide an in-school option, an exception review is required from a panel with representatives from the SDE, DPH, and the State Board of Education. As district and building-level decisions will ultimately be made at the local level, superintendents should consider developing an advisory group consisting of their school medical advisor, local health director, and school nurse leader to consult and inform decision-making.
Regional travel advisory updates
The regional travel advisory between Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York that went into effect last month and directs incoming travelers from states with a significant community spread of COVID-19 to self-quarantine for a 14-day period was updated today and now also includes Rhode Island. Washington, DC, and Delaware have been removed.
The quarantine applies to any person arriving from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
As of today, the full list of locations meeting this criteria includes:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
This list will continue to be updated on a regular basis as the situation develops across the country. Anyone seeking the most up-to-date information on the regional travel advisory is encouraged to visit the state’s coronavirus website at portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/travel.
Community Health & Wellness event on Wednesday, August 12
In honor of National Health Center Week, Community Health & Wellness in Torrington will be hosting on event on Wednesday, August 12 from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm to celebrate the work of their staff and of other nonprofit partners in the community who help keep us all safe and healthy. Hope to see you there – while wearing a mask, of course.
Since my last update, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has ordered Eversource to immediately restore rates back to those in effect during June, temporarily suspending the July rate increase until hearings can be held.
The suspension is not retroactive, however, and does not affect the bill we all just received.
|Extension: Utility Protection for Low Income Families
Your family can continue receiving utility protection through October 31, but you must call your utility company to get coded for HARDSHIP or WINTER protection.
The PURA (Public Utilities Regulatory Authority) July 21, 2020 ruling extends protection through October 31, 2020 for hardship customers. On November 1, hardship customers are protected from utility shutoff by the winter protection moratorium, which is effective through May 1.
|Families can use information below to get Hardship or Winter Protection
To get Hardship or Winter Protection:
- Call your utility company
- Ask to be coded “Hardship” or “Winter” protection
Companies must offer a payment plan you can afford. Ask about:
- Below Budget Worksheet (payment of $50 or $75 per month regardless of back bill)
- New Start (affordable monthly payment/entire back balance forgiven if 12 months of consistent payments)
- Matching Payment Programs (affordable monthly payment as low as $75.00 – balance reduction)
- Energy Assistance (payment toward back heat bill – you can also call your local Community Action Agency)
- Operation Fuel (financial assistance for unpaid back bills for qualified customers)
Families Should CALL NOW to Extend Utility Protection and Get a Payment Plan
- United Illuminating: (800) 722-5584
- Eversource: (800) 286-2000
- Connecticut Natural Gas: (860) 727-3000
- Southern Connecticut Gas: (800) 659-8299
For help or more information:
- Bonnie Roswig, Center for Children’s Advocacy: (860) 566-0836 or email
- United Way: 2-1-1 InfoLine
Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA): (800) 382-4586
|Changes in leadership at Nuvance
Nuvance Health System, which includes Sharon Hospital, announced new leadership at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie. Peter Kelly, formerly President of Putnam Hospital in Carmel, NY, will become President of Vassar Brothers. Dr. Mark Hirko, President of Sharon Hospital, will serve in an expanded leadership capacity as President of Putnam Hospital in addition to continuing to lead Sharon Hospital.
Hirko remains committed to leading Sharon Hospital, where he has built many strong working relationships, including with elected officials like me. I have been grateful for his regular briefings, responsiveness, and calm and clear leadership style which I expect will continue into the future.
|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.