christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Ned Lamont tours the field hospital (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

NEW HAVEN, CT — A newborn is among the latest fatalities associated with COVID-19.

The baby was less than seven weeks old and unresponsive when it arrived at Hartford Hospital. The baby tested positive post-mortem, according to Gov. Ned Lamont’s staff.

Lamont said it serves as “a reminder nobody is safe from this virus.”

The newborn was one of 16 new fatalities in Connecticut, bringing the total number up to 85 Wednesday. Until today most of the fatalities have been among those over the age of 70.

An estimated 3,557 people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Lamont, who addressed the media outside the new 300-bed field hospital at Southern Connecticut State University. It will house patients recovering from the virus who no longer need acute hospital care.

Dr. Steven Choi, Chief Quality Officer for Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Health System, said they expect the number of COVID positive patients to “drastically increase over a number of weeks, so this field hospital is absolutely critical to our mission.”

The field hospital was set up by the National Guard in five hours and will be managed by Yale New Haven Healthcare. The university also has made 2,500 dorm rooms available to medical personnel who choose to stay on campus.

Lamont said the trend is continuing along the lines of what they expect.

“We have a little bit of time to get ready and it will make a world of difference,” Lamont said.

Lamont said the state has the ability to make sure it has sufficient surge capacity.

christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Ned Lamont gives a press briefing (christine stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

What they’ve been unable to control is the amount of personal protective gear and ventilators the state is able to purchase. It’s a frustration for Lamont.

“Don’t believe anything you hear on TV where they say they’ve got plenty of protective gear,” Lamont said. “I was just on the phone with all the governors. They’re all desperate.”

Lamont said he has 40 people in the Department of Administrative Services scouring the globe for protective gear for Connecticut’s healthcare workers and first responders.

“We don’t have the capacity to protect all the people we need to,” Lamont said following a tour of the field hospital.

Lamont was frustrated with 50 ventilators getting rerouted before getting sent to Connecticut. Connecticut had requested 1,500 from the national stockpile and expects to get the 50 within the next day or two.

“It’s a bit of a mess out there,” Lamont said. “You’re playing with people’s lives. These are life-and-death decisions.”

Lamont Offers Reminder That ‘Nobody Is Safe From This Virus’

Lamont Offers Reminder That ‘Nobody Is Safe From This Virus’

Office of Governor Ned Lamont spoke to reporters today at SCSU in New Haven following a tour of a FEMA field hospital that’s been set up there. Among other things, he delivered the sad news that an infant has died of coronavirus.

Posted by CTNewsJunkie on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lamont also plans to sign another executive order to limit the number of people in grocery stores to half of the capacity of the store. Grocery stores have been allowed to remain open, but not everyone has been following the social distancing required to flatten the curve.

“I think the social distancing is making a bit of a difference,” Lamont said. “But it’s probably too early to say.” 

Lamont also decided to use his executive order to pressure insurance companies to implement a 60-day grace period for property and casualty and health insurance premium payments.

He said the 60-month grace period will help bridge the gap until the federal loans and unemployment benefits begin to make their way to the state around April 24.

The Connecticut Association of Health Plans, which represents health insurers, said they are “working diligently with those impacted to best address their needs by temporarily deferring premium payments, working out payment plans, and/or referring individuals and employers to those programs and services that can best support them during this difficult juncture.”

The association opposed a voluntary grace period because it worried what will happen if they are unable to pay claims because too many people are unable to pay their premiums.

“Ultimately, the greatest consumer protection health carriers can offer consumers is the ability to pay medical claims once incurred,” the Connecticut Association of Health Plans said. “Hospitals and other providers rely heavily on claims payment as a means to continue providing the necessary community care.  As such, it is imperative that those employers able to pay their premiums do so in a timely manner so as to help maintain stability in the overall delivery system.” 

Eric George, president of the Insurance Association of Connecticut, said he hopes modifying payment plans for customers with property and casualty insurance “will provide our insureds with the breathing room they need to weather this crisis.