- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - That haircut will have to wait. Salons and barbershops across Connecticut are not being allowed to reopen on Wednesday after all.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that Connecticut is now aligning its plans with neighboring Rhode Island to reopen hair salons and barbershops sometime in early June. He said the decision came after extensive discussions with the shop owners and employees, many of whom wanted more time to prepare.

“I heard from a lot of the stylists. I heard from a lot of the folks that run the hair salons, and they said, ’Give us a little more time. We’re just not ready. We’re not ready from the employee point of view, feeling comfortable coming back, getting some of the cleaning agents,’ the things they wanted,” Lamont said. “They wanted an extra week or two.”

Over the weekend, the Connecticut Beauty Association, which has more than 3,600 members, expressed concerns about Wednesday’s reopening. The same group planned to hold a “Hair Our Voice” rally, with people driving from the state Capitol to the governor’s residence in Hartford, on Monday afternoon.

Emma Scrivener, 21, a stylist in Willimantic, said she’s relieved by the delay, even though the shut-down has been a financial hardship.

“I learn so much about my customers’ lives. People really trust us and open up to us and I consider them family,” she said. “I’m 21. I’m right in the middle of the range most likely to be asymptomatic carriers. I would hate to be someone who is passing on this virus, despite wearing my mask, despite washing, to someone who is immuno-compromised.”

But Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano of North Haven said the announcement has “completely shaken the public’s trust,” considering Lamont has said such decisions should be based on science.

“But today’s last-minute delay is not based on science. It’s not based on a change in hospitalizations or testing or any other metric identified by the experts,” Fasano said. “It’s a policy decision based on input that should have been sought long before decisions were made.”

Connecticut still plans Wednesday to begin the multi-stage process of lifting restrictions, including allowing limited outdoor dining at restaurants. Retail establishments, outdoor exhibits at zoos and museums, outdoor recreation and university research programs will also be allowed to open with detailed, social distancing restrictions.

Dr. Ajay Kumar, the chief clinical officer at Hartford Healthcare, said the models he’s studied support the governor’s decision to begin reopening parts of society.

“I think this is the right place to be at this time,” Kumar said. “We need to be cautious. We need to be optimistic. But at the same time we need to continue to follow the safety principals.”

As of Monday, more than 38,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and there have been 3,449 COVID-associated deaths, an increase of 41 since Sunday. Hospitalizations continued to decline.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

In other coronavirus-related developments around Connecticut:



The state Department of Correction has finished testing for the coronavirus at the medium-security Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers and determined 146 inmates tested positive even though they showed no symptoms.

That figure includes the 105 asymptomatic inmates announced on Friday.

The Department of Correction previously reported that another 123 inmates with symptoms had come down with COVID-19. The prison houses about 1,100 inmates. DOC spokeswoman Karen Martucci said movement has been modified at the facility.

“We have folks that could be spreading the virus and don’t know it because they weren’t showing any obvious symptoms,” she said.

Martucci said inmates with no symptoms who tested positive and those who chose not to be tested have been separated from the rest of the population and isolated in cells at the prison for 14 days.

Any inmates who show symptoms will be transferred into two-week quarantine at the maximum-security Northern Correctional Institution, also in Somers. Staff who test positive are sent home to self-quarantine.

Martucci said the prison has instituted contact tracing for all staff and inmates who test positive to help stop the spread of the virus. Osborn was the first prison to undergo mass testing in Connecticut, she said. The department plans to test facility-by-facility, starting with the prisons that have seen the most cases.

Testing begins Tuesday at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville, where 102 inmates are know to have contracted the virus.



Disability rights advocates are urging the president and CEO of Hartford Hospital to change the hospital’s strict “no-visitor” policies and allow people with disabilities to bring a support person with them.

In an open letter to Jeffrey A. Flaks, released Sunday, one family told the story of a 73-year-old woman who arrived at Hartford Hospital on April 19 alone, unable to communicate, with severe short-term memory loss.

Earlier this month, several disability rights organizations submitted a complaint to the federal Office for Civil Rights, arguing that Connecticut’s guidance on hospital visitation policies during the pandemic violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. In an addendum released Sunday, the groups said Hartford Hospital continues to violate the unnamed 73-year-old woman’s civil rights.

Dr. Kumar said Hartford HealthCare continues to evaluate its policy and has made accommodations for patients who need support. He said the hospital also is using electronic tablets and other measures to make sure patients remain in contact with family members.


Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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