Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie

HARTFORD, CT —A total of 68 people in Connecticut have tested positive for COVID-19, but it’s still unknown how many people have been tested.

That’s because the state only gets back positive results from private, commercial labs. The only totals available are from the state lab where 248 tests have been performed and 222 came back negative. The state lab has only tested 26 samples that have come back positive.

Department of Public Health Epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said it would provide the state with some useful information, but “it’s important to remember that testing is important, but it’s not what’s going to get us through this. It’s just one of the tools we have. It’s our individual actions that are going to make a difference here.”

“It’s not the number of tests, but the percentage of tests that are positive,” Cartter said. “That’s the key.”

It’s unclear how that percentage is calculated without information on how many tests have been given.

Cartter said right now they are using the tests to keep Connecticut’s hospitals open.  He said right now testing capacity is increasing every single day.

Cartter said it’s safe to assume that the state likely has about 100 infected residents for every positive test, which means the total number of cases is probably around 6,000. However, the lack of widespread testing limits their ability to measure the spread of the disease.

He said the only thing that’s holding it back is getting samples taken. He said there’s a shortage of personal protective gear that’s worn by hospital personnel.

Josh Geballe, Gov. Ned Lamont’s chief operating officer, said there are about 9,000 hospital beds in the state, but the state is working to expand its capacity by turning university dorms or hotels into hospitals.

Cartter said Danbury, Greenwich and Bridgeport Hospitals are “totally full.”

He said more important than the number of tests are the number of people who have been hospitalized and the number of people who have died.

Cartter said at least 26 people have been hospitalized for COVID-19, “but that number is going to grow larger.”

Cartter warned that Connecticut is just at the beginning of this global pandemic.

In the meantime, Lamont is working with legislative leaders on a package of economic relief that would include loan relief, and tax-payment deferrals. Early on the state delayed payments for more than 800 businesses with loans through the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

The Department of Economic and Community Development launched an emergency response unit and is working with the legislature on coming up with an economic stimulus package beyond the help from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“I think it’s really important that we get cask into the hands of Connecticut individuals, employees of businesses very, very shortly,” Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman said. “But we’re not waiting for DC.”

The new emergency response unit within DECD is helping businesses get access to the U.S. Small Business Administration loans.

The state Banking Department urged Connecticut state-chartered banks and credit unions to work with borrowers by easing credit terms for new loans, waiving overdraft fees, waiving late fees for loan balances, increasing the number of allowed money market withdrawals, waiving CD early withdrawal penalties, and offering payment accommodations.

Lamont also has yet to make a decision about moving the April 28 presidential primary. He said he’s talking with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and will be coordinating any action.

Gov. Ned Lamont gives an update on COVID19

Posted by CTNewsJunkie on Tuesday, March 17, 2020