27 more coronavirus deaths in CT; toll is at 112
Another 27 fatalities occurred in state hospitals into Thursday, bringing Connecticut’s total deaths in the pandemic to 112.
During his daily briefing Thursday afternoon in the State Capitol, Gov. Ned Lamont said there have been another 267 people who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state total to 3,824, while 827 people are now hospitalized with the virus. He said that while there are more than 1,000 ventilators in the state, another 1,500 are needed.
While the gender breakdown for those infected is about even between men and women, the governor said that more men have died, possibly because of pre-existing conditions. “It just reminds you that social distancing and taking all those precautions can make a difference, he said. “Maybe in a week or so we’ll know whether it’s making a difference in Connecticut.”
At 7:45 p.m., the latest executive order was released, limiting statewide hotel rooms and short-term rentals to essential workers. “Not leisure travel, not vacationers,” Lamont said. “Trying to make sure that’s not just prioritized, but exclusively for essential workers and that takes effect tomorrow.”
In an attempt to maximize social distancing while keeping alive the state’s liquor stores and restaurants, home delivery of alcoholic beverages will now be allowed.
He said that the next week will be crucial in finding out whether the state has succeeded in slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
State Police have visited “dozens and dozens” of retail establishments, checking to see if they are obeying new orders to cut down on crowds, by cutting in half the previous attendance limits set by local fire departments, Lamont said. While most businesses are observing the social distancing policies, other businesses did not and “got a friendly talking to” from the state troopers. “It won’t be a friendly talking to next time,” Lamont said. Penalties could include Class D felonies punishable with $5,000 fines and five years in prison.
Renee Coleman-Mitchell, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, said that COVID-19 infections have been found in 57 of the state’s 215 nursing homes.
Lamont said that the state has about 1,033 ventilators, but needs another 1,500 because of the anticipated peak need calculated two months ago. “It’s a source of endless frustration for me,” Lamont admitted.
The governor and Melissa McCaw, his budget chief, estimated that the pandemic is likely to create a cascade of red ink in the state budget deficit, which a month ago was about $60 million in deficit. The shortfall is now likely to top $500 million in the current fiscal year that runs through June 30, plus another $1 billion in the next budget year, even with an expected $1.45 billion in federal relief. Lamont said he was glad that the state has generated a budget reserve fund — the so-called rainy day fund — of about $2.5 billion.
In other pandemic developments, Chief Medical Examiner James Gill on Thursday confirmed that the six-week baby, who was found to have COVID-19 in an autopsy, was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford’s North End. After an initial report from Hearst Connecticut Media, the hospital confirmed the fatality Thursday afternoon.
“The infant did test positive for the COVID-19 virus and an autopsy was done at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” Gill said in an email Thursday morning. “At the current time, we have not issued a final cause of death. There are numerous tests that we must do on infant deaths before issuing a final cause of death. It will be a few weeks before the investigation is done.”
He declined to give other details, including whether the baby was a boy or a girl. A source familiar with the case said it was a girl whose mother said the baby was having trouble breathing when she brought her to the hospital.
The hospital confirmed the fatality.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss and we offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the family,” a hospital spokesperson said in a statement, citing federal privacy protections that limit further details. “Although children have made up a small fraction of COVID-19 cases, it can impact anyone. As a community, we must do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Dan Haar contributed to this report.