HARTFORD Conn. (AP) — An independent review of the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had in Connecticut’s nursing homes found that those with more staff have had a significantly lower percentage of cases and deaths per bed.
The report from the Princeton, New Jersey, research firm Mathematica, and ordered by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont in June, reviewed how the state, nursing homes and assisted living centers prepared for and responded to the pandemic.
It found that the state neglected the needs of nursing homes at the start of the pandemic, concentrating more on making sure hospitals were prepared for the outbreak.
The 157-page report makes numerous recommendations, including that all homes have a full-time staff member dedicated to preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting DPH commissioner, said homes already have someone doing that job on at least a part-time basis. She said the state has already begun instituting many of the other suggestions, such as providing frequent testing and making sure homes have adequate protective equipment.
“The strategies that we've been putting in place to prepare for a second wave were validated by the recommendations that (Mathematica) made after they did this scan of the environment," she said.
Gifford promised the state would adopt long-term recommendations, including that the nursing home industry be involved in future planning.
The report's release coincides with another nursing home outbreak of the virus, this one at a home in Colchester.
Fifty-seven people, including 46 residents of the Harrington Court nursing home have tested positive for the virus since last week, according to the state Department of Public Health. No deaths have been reported.
The state Department of Public Health is conducting rapid tests of all residents and staff using one of its mobile testing units.
Harrington Court, which is owned by Genesis Health Care, houses more than 80 residents.
Some of the residents who tested positive have been moved to another Genesis facility, the Quinnipiac Valley Center in Wallingford, which has a wing dedicated to COVID-19 patients.
In other coronavirus related news:
BY THE NUMBERS
Gov. Ned Lamont said he's concerned that the rate of coronavirus infections continues to hover at about 1.8% of those being tested.
There were 192 new cases reported since Wednesday, bringing the state's total to more than 57,700. The number of hospitalizations climbed by three to 107 and the number of COVID-associated deaths increased by three to 4,511.
State health officials on Thursday night issued an alert for Norwich, due to a spike in new cases over the last two weeks. They're warning residents to take extra precautions, such as limiting trips outside the home, wearing masks anytime they leave home, avoiding indoor gatherings with people they don't live with and not attending large outdoor gatherings. Between Sept. 13-26, there were at least 84 new COVID-19 cases in Norwich, the highest rate in the state at 6.7%.
Norwich Public Schools Superintendent Kristen Stringfellow announced the district will move to remote student learning for the next two weeks. The privately governed Norwich Free Academy will also switch to all-remote learning, beginning Friday, and high school sports will be cancelled for two weeks, The Day of New London reported. Also, nine testing sites will be opened this week and there are plans for mask giveaways.
“While some people are saying, ‘Yippee, we’re out of the woods,' slow down," Lamont said. “This virus never ceases to surprise us in a negative way.”
MEALS ON WHEELS SUSPENDED
About 1,000 people in eastern Connecticut who rely on food from the Meals on Wheels program will not receive new deliveries for the next two weeks after a warehouse worker was exposed to the coronavirus.
The Thames Valley Council for Community Action said it has closed the warehouse through Oct. 13 because a staff member was exposed to someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
The organization said it is asking homebound customers in New London and Windham counties to use prepackaged meals that were provided as backup in the spring with instructions to save them in case deliveries had to be stopped during the pandemic.
Each customer was given 14 of the non-perishable meals in April, Dawn Cwynar, an executive assistant with the non-profit told the Norwich Bulletin.
Those who have already consumed their emergency stockpile will receive boxes of shelf-stable meals, which were kept in stock at the Bozrah facility in case of emergency.
The organization typically delivers hot meals daily during the week with frozen meals provided for the weekends.
“Everybody will get food," Lee-Ann Gomes, the human services director for the city of Norwich told the newspaper. “No one will go hungry.”
The governor's office reports that Connecticut has imposed 42 fines totaling $44,800 since the state began enforcing COVID-19 travel restrictions in August.
The data includes penalties issued through Sept. 29 to people violating the state's requirement that visitors from certain states and territories quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Connecticut or present test results showing they are not infected.
There are currently 34 states and territories included on the restricted list.
Those fined for failing to quarantine had arrived from 12 different states, and Puerto Rico.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is urging families to avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween or having truck-or-treat events where candy is handed out from vehicles lined up in parking lots, identifying both as higher risk activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
State officials are also urging people to avoid crowded indoor costume parties that exceed 25 people indoors or 150 people outdoors, large Halloween parades, indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming, and hayrides or tractor rides with people who aren’t in their household.
Those who do choose to hand out candy are urged to wear a face covering, remain 6 feet (2 meters) from the trick-or-treater and place the candy inside the child’s bag.
Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting DPH commissioner, suggested that families still celebrate by doing activities outdoors, such as scavenger hunts with members of their household.