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Conn. leaders take precautions; COVID-19 in state

Gov. Ned Lamont declared a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency on Tuesday to help Connecticut health leaders respond to the novel coronavirus, after two Connecticut residents tested positive for COVID-19. By declaring a public health emergency, the state has the power to quarantine residents in order to prevent the spread of the disease. The civil preparedness emergency expands the governor’s powers over state institutions, which includes the power to restrict travel and close public buildings. Two people have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as two New York residents who work in Connecticut. New York state Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state of emergency on March 7, and yesterday, the governor established a containment area in New Rochelle and deployed the National Guard to that area to assist with the outbreak. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency on March 9 for emergency response purposes. 

Prior to Lamont’s declarations, legislative leaders announced that the Capitol building and Legislative Office Building would close on March 12-13, 2020, for a deep clean. Although public hearings occurred earlier in the week, outside groups were asked to refrain from attending them to reduce risks of exposure. Leaders will continue to monitor the situations and keep the buildings closed if necessary, rescheduling all public hearings. The deadline for Joint Favorable reports will be extended by as many days as the LOB and Capitol remain closed. 

The Connecticut Insurance Department released Bulletin  IC-39 on March 9, which encourages Connecticut health insurers to take steps to ensure affordable testing and treatment of COVID-19. Insurers are asked to remove any co-payment for COVID-19 testing, and pay claims for out-of-network testing and treatment at the same rates as in-network testing and treatment. The bulletin also encourages insurers to prepare health care centers with accurate information pertaining to COVID-19, which they can pass along to insureds, and verify coverage in the insureds’ provider networks. In addition to these steps, the CID encourages insurers to authorize payment for up to a 90-day supply of prescription medicine when appropriate, and compliant under state or federal law. 

Meanwhile, University of Connecticut Coach Geno Auriemma told reporters he is not worried about the virus outbreak after the Huskies won their 139th consecutive American Athletic Conference game Monday night. The Ivy League took a different view, however, canceling the conference tournament and sending the Yale men’s team straight to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament. The NCAA still plans to host the tournaments across 14 cities with fans in attendance, but has an expert committee closely monitoring the situation. At the high school level, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference canceled the remaining winter season, including all winter sports tournaments, with no plans to reschedule.

As the state does what is possible to attempt and limit the spread of the virus, PIA has further information on actions you and your agencies can consider. Keep updated on the latest news about COVID-19 on the PIACT website.