Connecticut is planning to revamp its benchmarks for when people entering the state from locations with large COVID-19 rates will need to quarantine.
Currently, both state residents and out-of-state travelers coming from states and territories with 10 cases per 100,000 population or 10% positivity rates must fill out a state travel form and isolate for 14 days. Under the new rule, people must take such steps if they come from locations with 10 cases per 100,000 and 5% positivity rates.
“The other threshold was so broad that it was including about 85 percent of our states across the country. It was becoming unenforceable,” said Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont during his coronavirus briefing with reporters. He said the revised advisory, which New York and New Jersey may also adopt, will still impact those people coming from states with substantially higher infection rates than Connecticut’s.
“I think that means we’ve brought the number of states that fall in that category from over 40 down to about 33, which is more manageable,” he said.
As of Monday, Connecticut itself surpassed the threshold of 10 cases per 100,000 with 11.2 new cases per 100,000. The state’s seven-day rolling average for positive cases as of Monday was 1.7%.
Lamont said the state will continue to issue fines for Connecticut residents and out-of-state residents who violate the quarantine and state notification rules. As of last week, the state has issued 45 fines, most to people from Connecticut.
Lamont said his administration is still trying to determine how to handle workers who live in one state and work in another if Connecticut reaches the new benchmark.
“Obviously at that point, my strong recommendation would be, stay close to home as much as you can,” he said. “We’ve always had an exception for 24 hours, if you have to go into the city for some work-related, essential activity. So there would be ways to work around it. But stay close to home if that happens.”
As of Monday, there have been 4,554 COVID-related deaths, 12 more since Friday.
In other coronavirus-related news in Connecticut:
Schools grapple with distance learning
Hartford officials have decided to keep the city’s schools open for at least two more weeks, despite being named as a high-risk community for the transmission of coronavirus.
Mayor Luke Bronin said Monday that despite the designation, the city has actually seen a slight decline in the number of COVID-19 cases, from 116 last week to 108.
“We still have not seen significant transmission in schools,” he said.
The state last week designated 11 municipalities — Hartford, Danbury, Norwich, New London, Canterbury, East Lyme, Griswold, Montville, Preston, Sprague and Windham as “red zones” because of the high number of daily positive COVID-19 cases.
Those cities and towns now have discretion to roll back from Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan to Phase 2, under an executive order from Gov. Ned Lamont.
Lamont’s office is recommending that individuals living in these communities limit trips outside home and avoid gatherings with non-family members.
Also, they’re recommending communities cancel public events and limit gathering points; organized groups postpone indoor events; and schools consider more distance learning.
Tracy Youngberg, Windham’s school superintendent, announced in a letter to families Friday that students will shift from a hybrid to a remote learning model until at least Oct. 30.
She wrote that while the evidence suggests the schools are not the source of any outbreak, “the recent spike in town cases has exhibited a negative impact on student and staff attendance, caused elevated anxiety levels, and is dominating our district’s day-to-day operations.”
The town of Griswold has also announced it is closing its school buildings.
Other districts, including New London, East Lyme, Sprague, Montville, Canterbury and Preston, said they will continue to keep schools open.
“There is no substitution to direct instruction and the benefits of consistent routines,” Canterbury Superintendent Steven Rioux told families.
“However, there may be a time when we need to revert to a hybrid learning model or a full-remote learning model,” he continued.
Bronin said Hartford will re-evaluate the metrics every two weeks.