HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut businesses adapted to new social distancing guidelines Tuesday, and state lawmakers were planning to continue work on an assistance package for small companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak despite the postponement of the legislative session.
The changes come the same day Gov. Ned Lamont announced how the number of infections across the state jumped by more than 200 since Monday, to a total of more than 600 positive cases. The Democrat said 12 patients have now died.
“Sometimes infections are related to increase in the number of tests. And that’s not the case this time,” Lamont said. “The infections are related to the fact we have a higher percentage of our people who are actually infected.”
While more than 62% of the total cases are from Fairfield County, Lamont noted how the number of cases in New Haven County doubled since Monday, from 41 to 89. He said the rest of the state should prepare for “what will be coming.” Lamont said he expects the numbers will continue to escalate for at least another week or two.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
A look at developments in Connecticut:
Small business owners were making adjustments Tuesday, the first full day under an order by Lamont that directs nonessential businesses to prohibit all in-person functions and urges people to stay home.
Bicycles East in Glastonbury remained open because repair shops are considered essential businesses. But they are not letting customers into the store.
Co-owner Deb Dauphinais said customers must now call from the parking lot and drop off and pick up their bikes using racks on the sidewalk out front. She said the police was instituted because it was hard to practice social distancing inside.
“I was backing up a lot,” she said.
Hosmer Mountain Beverages was still delivering soda and bottled water to customers across eastern Connecticut. Bill Potvin, the 73-year-old co-owner of the company that started in 1912, said much of their business comes from restaurants and that has taken a huge hit.
“We sell a lot of the the syrup which goes into the machines to make the soda,” he said, “That part of the business is totally shut off. We haven’t sold a box in two weeks.”
Potvin said most of its employees are over 60 and he worries about them.
Dianne Weimer, co-owner of Park Hardware in Hartford, said she ordered construction-style dust masks for her staff weeks ago in anticipation of having to stay open should there be a health crisis.
She said most of her customers have been contractors, electricians, plumbers and other tradesmen not the general public. She said they have cut store hours to just five hours each day.
“We are down but we are trying our best in a crazy economy,” she said. “We never thought of this.”
The Republican leader of the Connecticut House of Representatives said state lawmakers still plan to come up with an assistance package, especially for small businesses impacted by the coronoavirus, despite Monday’s announcement the General Assembly’s business has been postponed until at least April 13.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said lawmakers have been working with Lamont to include their ideas in his series of executive orders.
But if a bipartisan plan is crafted that requires large amounts of spending, she said legislators will have to return to Hartford to vote, with social distancing in mind.
“We’ll figure it out. That’s the least of my concern. Even if you bring 10 people in at once and just have everybody kind of on a time schedule, that’s an option, too,” she said.
The day after signing an executive order to keep Connecticut’s schools closed until April 20, Gov. Ned Lamont acknowledged Tuesday they’ll likely remain shuttered until the fall.
During a radio interview with WCBS 880, Lamont said April 20 was “the minimum” and schools probably won’t resume regular options for the rest of the current school year. No final decision has been made yet.
To help with at-home learning, Lamont said two Connecticut residents plan to donate books from Scholastic Corp. that will provide reading and writing instruction to more than 185,000 pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade students. Lamont previously announced another philanthropic donation of 60,000 laptops to disadvantaged high school students.
Hartford Police are among the Connecticut departments policing differently because of the virus. Officer Anthony Rinaldi said police are practicing social distancing, taking more complaints over the phone instead of in person and cleaning their cruisers after they transport people to the police station. Officers are even playing an announcement over their cruisers’ external speakers aimed at people gathered in large groups, urging them to stay home and not congregate in large numbers — in line with statewide directives issued by the governor to try to prevent the spread of the virus. The messages are in English and Spanish.
MOBILE FIELD HOSPITAL
While normally playing a ceremonial role, the 1st and 2nd Company Governor’s Foot Guard and the 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard helped Tuesday to deploy a portion of the Department of Public Health’s Mobile Field Hospital to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. The modular trailer will support up to 25 additional beds for the hospital. The foot and horse guards provide emergency support during times of trouble.
Associated Press Writers Susan Haigh, Dave Collins and Chris Ehrmann contributed to this report. Ehrmann is a corps member for Report for america, a nonprofit organization that supports local news coverage, in a partnership with The Associated Press for Connecticut. The AP is solely responsible for all content.