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Gov. Ned Lamont speaks to reporters at Bristol Hospital last week (ctnewsjunkie photo)

HARTFORD, CT – The number of novel coronavirus cases in Connecticut almost doubled overnight, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.

Nine new patients have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number up to 20 with new cases being reported in Fairfield, Hartford, and New Haven counties.

“The number of cases announced today reinforces for us what we knew was already going to happen: this virus is spreading and it is here in Connecticut,” Lamont said in a statement. “I urge all of my fellow residents to take preventative measures like limiting large gatherings and keeping a safe social distance. Our state has taken critical measures to maximize public health and those steps will continue.”

Lamont also signed his third executive order related to the outbreak.

The order relaxes local and state meeting rules so that municipal governments are able to hold meetings using video conferences or conference calls provided that the public is provided remote access to view or listen to the meetings and access materials for the meetings.

Some municipalities are reaching their budget deadlines.

The governor is reviewing the concerns of municipal officials regarding requirements for town meetings to approve budgets, and what adjustments may be needed to allow public participation or input while still protecting public safety.

The General Assembly has suspended all business until March 30. Legislative leaders have plans to reassess that date in the future as the situation evolves.

Lamont also relaxed the rules around the manufacturing of hand sanitizer. The executive order allows pharmacies to compound it and sell it to customers.

The new executive order also relaxes requirements for childcare facilities and youth camps and allows them to operate for fewer than 50 weeks.

Lamont also is contemplating what to do for the portion of the state workforce that can’t telecommute.

Telework is not an option for state police, prison guards, child protection social workers, field-based Department of Transportation workers, state hospital staff, and many more. However, for those job classifications that are eligible, Lamont is giving leaders broader discretion to allow executive branch state employees to work from home.

Agency leaders also are authorized to consider flexible scheduling among other social-distancing strategies.

Lamont also mobilized the Connecticut National Guard to help deliver ventilators to St. Francis, Danbury, and Hartford hospitals. The National Guard is also conducting an inventory of medical equipment to set up a mobile field hospital.