HARTFORD, CT — May 20th won’t be the day Connecticut reopens. It will be the deadline for the advisory board to give Gov. Ned Lamont its recommendations.
Those recommendations will rely in part on the number of tests performed.
Lamont wants to get to 1.5 million tests by mid-May. Currently, the state has tested 71,497 patients. The number of tests performed Wednesday was not as large as the previous day because testing swabs and reagents are still in short supply. There’s also a delay between when the test is administered and when the private labs share the data with the state of Connecticut.
“It’s best to look at that on a three- or four-day rolling average,” Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said of the testing.
Dr. Albert Ko, an epidemiologist from Yale School of Medicine, said Connecticut has to filter the “signal from the noise,” and at the moment it looks like “we’re on the flat end of the curve.”
He said the state needs to increase testing.
“If we don’t test widely enough we’re never going to get the whole slice of the pie,” Ko said.
Lamont touted the state’s relationship with Quest Diagnostics when it comes to testing.
“They’re an amazing asset for us,” Lamont said.
As all the states look to reopen, it’s likely testing supplies will continue to be hard to come by.
Ko said they will also look to be doing antibody testing that will indicate where infections have occurred and who may be susceptible in the future.
“It also tells us where we should focus our public health interventions,” Ko said.
He said not everyone in the state is going to have to get tested. He said the information is valuable for the community and doesn’t necessarily say what an individual should or shouldn’t do.
Personal Protective Equipment
Geballe, the executive in charge of purchasing for the state, said the state received 2 million surgical masks, 48,000 more N95 masks, 37,000 coveralls, and 67,000 face shields Thursday. He said they made deliveries to about 20 state agencies and other nursing homes.
“The situation there is improving,” Geballe said.
State Employee Raises
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano asked Lamont in a letter Thursday to consider delaying state employee raises scheduled to go into effect July 1, as approved under the 2017 State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition deal. These pay increases include a 3.5% general wage increase and an annual step increase of 2%. These raises are estimated to cost the state $119 million from the General Fund and $15.3 million from the Special Transportation Fund.
“At a time when Connecticut residents, nonprofits and social service providers are struggling significantly, the state should consider delaying these raises and instead directing those funds to support the state’s nonprofit providers who make up our safety net services that help the most vulnerable populations,” Fasano wrote.
Lamont said there are “amazing frontline state workers” who are working everyday to make sure COVID-19 doesn’t infect more people.
“I look around the state of Connecticut and I see people losing their jobs, taking pay cuts and this hits a note with people so it’s something I have to think about seriously,” Lamont said.
Lamont declined to say whether he has the authority to cancel the raises.
Dan Livingston, the chief negotiator for SEBAC, said they are disappointed to even be having this conversation.
He called Fasano’s caucus “cynical, manipulative and divisive.”
“Unlike the tiny comfortable minority of millionaires and billionaires your caucus truly represents, state workers together with the non-profits actually help provide the critical safety net upon which the most vulnerable in our state depend,” Livingston wrote. “Among our members are doctors, nurses, and nurse’s aides on the front lines, corrections officers in virus infested prisons, social workers protecting seniors and children and many others struggling to provide services even in the midst of escalating public risks.”