- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 11, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A look at some of the steps taken in Connecticut on Wednesday in an effort to contain the new coronavirus.

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NEW CASE

A third case of COVID-19 was diagnosed Wednesday in an elderly New Canaan man.

State epidemiologist Matthew Cartter said that person had no known contact with anyone who had the virus and is considered to be the state’s first “community” case.



Cartter said he believes cases of the disease will soon be too numerous for the state to conduct individual investigations.

“If you have a fever, for example, and you are in the southwest part of the state, you should assume you have COVID-19,” he said. “You don’t need a test to tell you that’s what you have. You should assume that is the illness that you have.”

Cartter said he expect the virus will be seasonal with waves in the spring and fall, but has no way to know that for certain. He also said that he expects there will be fatalities in Connecticut.

The state has tested 74 people, with 16 tests still pending.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, COVID-19 can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

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SCHOOLS CLOSING

The number of schools closing or switching to online learning amid virus concerns continues to grow.

The University of Connecticut announced Wednesday night that it’s moving all classes online from March 23 to at least April 6 at its main campus, regional campuses and the School of Law. The school said housing and a dining facility will be provided for students who have no alternative but to return to the school following spring break.

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian announced the four state universities and 12 community colleges will move all classes to an online-only format from March 23 through at least April 5. All university residence halls will be closed until April 5 at 3 p.m.

Wesleyan University on Wednesday also joined Yale, Quinnipiac, Southern Connecticut and several other universities in the state that had already announced plans to switch to online classes.

New Haven officials announced they will be closing Nathan Hale School, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, on Thursday and Friday because an adult suspected of having COVID-19 had contact with school faculty and a student under their care.

Westport public schools announced Wednesday they were closing until further notice. David Abbey, the interim superintendent of schools, said in a statement that the decision was made because “a number of parents” had come into contact with someone “presumed to be positive with coronavirus.”

Lauralton Hall High School in Milford announced it will be closed for the rest of the week after a parent, who is a health care worker, reported being exposed to the virus and being symptomatic.

Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford said it would extend its spring break until March 24 and plans to conduct remote learning once students return.

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EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS

Members of the Public Health Emergency Committee have the ability under state law to veto Lamont’s emergency declarations, which give the governor the authority to suspend certain state laws and regulations to protect public health and safety. But both Democrats and Republicans said they agree with the steps Lamont has taken.

“I’m in support of the governor’s approach,” said Rep. William Petiit Jr., R-Plainville, a physician and the top House Republican on the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee. “I think being overprepared is better than being under-prepared.”

Lamont’s declarations of both civil preparedness and public health emergencies will remain in effect until Sept. 9. If he decides to issue new declarations, the group will have another opportunity to veto them.

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GAMES CALLED

Fans won’t be allowed at the UConn women’s first and second-round NCAA Tournament games in Storrs.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said only essential staff and limited family will be allowed at all men’s and women’s tournament games this year.

The New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes Trinity, Wesleyan and Connecticut College, has canceled its spring sports season. The conference says the decision was made in part because many of its participating members have told students to return home and complete the semester remotely because of COVID-19.

The Ivy League, which includes Yale, also announced it is cancelling spring sports activities. Yale has not said whether it will allow its men’s basketball team to participate in the NCAA Tournament. The league said it will leave that decision up to the school.

Hartford Athletic, the city’s profession soccer team, announced it will postpone its first two home games because of the health emergency in the state.

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SPORTS PROTEST

Hundreds of protesters, many of them student-athletes, gathered at the offices of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference to protest its decision to cancel all remaining high school winter sports championship tournaments because of virus concerns.

The crowd chanted “Let us play!” as Glenn Lungarini, the organization’s executive director, tried to speak. He was escorted into the building by police.

An online petition asking the CIAC to reconsider Tuesday’s decision had close to 90,000 signatures Wednesday morning.

MONEY AND MASKS

Josh Geballe, the chief operating officer in Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration, said Connecticut will be receiving $7.1 million from the recent $8.3 billion federal appropriation approved to address the coronavirus.

He also said the state has made an emergency request from the Strategic National Supply for a total of 540,000 additional protective masks.

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LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

In addition to postponing public hearings that were scheduled for the rest of this week and next, the Connecticut General Assembly is changing its rules because of COVID-19. Lawmakers voted Wednesday to extend committee deadlines three days and allow members to cast committee votes by phone while the governor’s public health emergency is in place. Legislators would have to be present if they want to introduce an amendment or speak on a bill.

House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said he has also asked his committee chairmen to begin prioritizing the bills, making sure essential legislation is moved through the legislative process before the session adjourns on May 6.

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican leaders plan to continue daily conference calls and reassess operations at the state Capitol complex, where more than 500 people work. He said lawmakers also plan to discuss possible legislation that may be needed to help residents and entities impacted by the virus.

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AP Capitol Correspondent Susan Haigh contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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