Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Ned Lamont with Josh Geballe and Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT – A total of 415 Connecticut residents have tested positive and 10 people have died from COVID-19, according to Gov. Ned Lamont.

An estimated 4,500 people have been tested, but that only measures “the tip of an iceberg,” Department of Public Health Epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said Monday during Gov. Ned Lamont’s press briefing.

“For every confirmed case that we have, there are hundreds of people out there,” Cartter added.

He said they need to make more hospital beds available because there’s going to be a greater need to hospitalize patients in the coming weeks.

Cartter said he can’t predict when that day will come because even the Centers for Disease Control has not been able to make that type of prediction yet.

“I think we just don’t know,” Cartter said.

He said he would like to have a pause button, but “this virus does not share our sense of time.”

At the moment, Cartter said health officials are focused on testing those who need to be hospitalized because it’s critical to the protection of other patients and medical staff. He said there’s also a shortage of personal protective equipment so they want to ration masks, gloves and more for use on hospitalized patients.

In what has seemed like one endlessly long day for those who have been dealing with this crisis for the past 17 days, Lamont said that they are doing everything they can to expand hospital capacity to handle the expected influx of patients. By ending elective surgeries, the hospitals have freed up about 40% of their capacity, but the governor said he wants to see them increase that to 50% over the next four weeks.

In the meantime, he needs the public’s help to stop the spread of the virus.

“Anything we can do to flatten the curve makes an enormous difference,” Lamont said.

Lamont said he’s trying to do everything he can to get people to do the right thing when it comes to complying with social distancing. He said if that’s not happening over the next three days, he will consider further measures.

On Sunday, the Department of Economic and Community Development released guidelines for which businesses should stay open and which need to close their doors by 8 p.m. tonight.

People who are working from home and have children who would typically be in school are all too aware of how increasingly difficult life has become. Lamont, who has grown children, said the children have been on his mind since the very start of the outbreak.

To that end, Lamont announced Monday that public schools should not reopen until April 20. That date will be included in his next executive order.

In the meantime, between Friday, March 13, and today, more than 99,000 Connecticut residents filed unemployment claims.

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Ned Lamont keeping his distance from his staff (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

Asked if Connecticut would continue to report the unemployment numbers, Lamont said, “I hadn’t thought about it. Why wouldn’t we?”

Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor sent guidance to state labor agencies asking them to hold off on releasing unemployment claims data earlier than the regularly scheduled. The Lamont administration seems to be thumbing its nose at that suggestion, while it waits for Congress to act on a new coronavirus relief package. The state DOL released the latest data by email moments after Monday’s press conference.

For the second time, the U.S. Senate was unable to move forward with a vote on the package Monday.

“Our economic response is impacted by how they want to go forward,” Lamont said referring to the U.S. Senate.

The state of Connecticut is looking at a $20 million low-interest loan program to small businesses, but the details of that have yet to be finalized.

The state has been waiting to see what type of financial help is coming from the federal government, according to DECD Commissioner David Lehman.

Gov. Ned Lamont press briefing on March 23 on COVID-19.

Posted by CTNewsJunkie on Monday, March 23, 2020