HARTFORD, Conn. — State officials urged Connecticut residents Thursday to get tested for COVID-19 as more businesses reopen and people return to work, noting there's greater availability of tests and they're free.

Plainville state Rep. William Petit, a retired endocrinologist, said he believes there's currently “less motivation” for people living in Connecticut to get tested, given the state's declining numbers of infections, deaths and hospitalizations. But he said residents should still be wary about the novel coronavirus.

“Those are statistics but one death to the people involved, that's a tragedy,” said the Republican, during a news conference with Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz at the Community Health Center of New Britain. Petit also advised that residents continue to wear masks, avoid tightly confined areas with little air flow, practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands.

Wednesday's test results represented the lowest percentage of positive COVID-19 tests in Connecticut since the pandemic began. Out of the 6,430 tests reported since Tuesday, only 80 were positive. That represented a 1.2% positivity rate. Nearly 366,000 tests have been performed in the state.

People can call 2-1-1 or visit the state's testing locator to find available sites.

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

In other coronavirus news in Connecticut:


Lamont said Thursday's he's willing to consider a proposal to pay workers a $450 stipend to return to work, an idea supported by President Donald Trump's top economic advisor and some congressional Republicans.

“I'm doing everything I can to encourage people to get back to work and make sure that they can do it safely,” he said. “If they can’t do it safely and they don’t feel like they can do it safely, they’ll be reluctant to go back.”

New statistics released Thursday by the Department of Labor show the state gained 25,800 net jobs in May, after losing 269,200 jobs in April due to the pandemic. Andy Condon, director of the agency's Office of Research, called the latest figures “the beginnings of a recovery” of those historic losses from April.

Lamont reiterated on Thursday he would prefer the federal government provide the state with grant money to help replenish Connecticut's unemployment compensation fund rather than extend the extra $600 a week Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefit. His position is contrary to that taken by the state's all-Democratic congressional delegation, which supported the HEROES Act, which would extend the payments until January 2021.

“We’ve got the state unemployment compensation. We’ve opened up 95% of our economy. We’re urging everybody we can to get back to work,” Lamont said, when asked about residents who say they can't make ends meet without the $600 weekly payments, which are currently slated to expire July 31. “You’ve got another month and now’s the time to plan for that day that you get back to work, now that all the stores and businesses are pretty much open.”

Condon said said the state's leisure and hospitality, retail trade, and education and health services still remain the hardest hit industries from the pandemic.

“The process of recovery may quicken as Connecticut implements its phased response to the slowing spread of the virus," he said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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