I want to take this opportunity to share state and local resources and information available to you in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The state of Connecticut has launched an extensive web portal with daily updates on the situation as it develops and serves as a directory to other helpful online resources, such as the Frequently Asked Questions document and the DPH daily testing data. This website has helpful information for:
Additionally, the state has launched a 24/7 hotline, in cooperation with United Way of Connecticut, for questions from the public regarding issues related to the spread of coronavirus. People with questions can call 2-1-1 or text “CTCOVID” to 898211 for the most up-to-date information.
Governor Lamont has declared a civil preparedness and public health emergency for the State of Connecticut in response to recent cases of coronavirus, and he and public health officials will provide daily updates on the situation as it develops.
Governor Lamont’s most recent statement can be viewed by clicking here. In a state-wide effort to mitigate the outbreak and provide Connecticut residents with appropriate resources the governor has administered several executive orders. Here are details on his most recent order:
To review all of Gov. Lamont’s executive orders, click here.
Health Recommendations to limit COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here are some helpful health tips to limit the spread of coronavirus and protect yourself:
Please check back, as additional information will be posted to this page as it becomes available.
Information for Businesses
Disaster relief available to provide assistance for small business owners
Connecticut small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak can now apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (up to $2 million) through the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Additionally, small business owners with questions about the SBA loan program or other types of state-level assistance can call 860-500-2333 to speak with a representative from the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
DRS extends filing deadline for certain annual state business tax returns
Consistent with the emergency declarations, the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) is granting an automatic extension of Connecticut filing deadlines for certain annual state tax returns as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Effective immediately, the filing deadlines for certain annual tax returns due on or after March 15, 2020, and before June 1, 2020, are extended by 30 days. In addition, the payments associated with these returns are also extended to the corresponding due date in June.
The impacted returns and the associated filing dates and payment deadlines are set forth below:
Additional updates will be posted to the DRS website.
State working with small businesses impacted by coronavirus
The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) is working with small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. Specifically, the agency will defer loan payments for all Small Business Express loans for three months. Additional details include:
Education Information, including school meal program
Meals available for students attending schools closed due to COVID-19
The Connecticut State Department of Education received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow students who are enrolled in schools that are closed due to COVID-19 and who receive meals through the school lunch program to continue receiving those meals and for them to be consumed at home, allowing for social distancing. This action is effective immediately.
Similar to how the summer lunch program operates, parents and students can show up at their school and receive a lunch for the student and other children in the household under the age of 18 and take the lunch home with them. The meals do not have to be consumed on school premises. Only one student in a household must be present to receive multiple meals for every child 18 years old and under in their household.
Breakfast and Lunch Available for Pickup:
Students 18-years-old and younger will remain in their vehicle and can receive prepared meals daily between 11 a.m. and noon.
The drive-through will be at the high school’s rear entrance, outside the kitchen and across from the track and football field. There will be signs to direct vehicles.
Every eligible recipient will receive one free breakfast and one free lunch meal. Breakfast will consist of cereal, yogurt, cheese sticks, juice and milk, while lunch will be fruit and vegetables, milk and a selection between a turkey wrap, peanut butter sandwiches, or a bagel and a yogurt.
If a child has an allergy or if families have any additional questions, they can contact the Director of Food Services at 860-474-1440.
Continuation of learning programs:
Scholastic learn at home: https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
Virtual College Tours: https://www.youvisit.com/collegesearch/
Husky Health Services
Expansion of Telemedicine Coverage for Medicaid/HUSKY Health Services
The Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) is implementing changes in Medicaid/HUSKY Health that will support Connecticut’s COVID-19 preparedness and response through increased access to health services.Specifically, for approximately 850,000 enrolled residents, DSS will cover identified telemedicine services, effective today.
DSS is also planning to cover testing for COVID-19; make prescription drug coverage more flexible; and eliminate cost sharing in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (HUSKY B) and for members enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.
At this time, telemedicine coverage includes:
Connecticut Department of Labor modifies unemployment insurance, offers programs
The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) has created a helpful informational FAQ for employees and employers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. This information includes guidance about unemployment insurance, paid sick leave and absences, wages and hours, and family medical leave. Click Here to access the FAQ page.
DOL Commissioner Westby is suspending the requirement that workers applying for new unemployment benefits directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic be actively searching for work.
Unemployment benefits are available to workers whose employer needs to temporarily shut down or slow down business. Employees who are furloughed by the emergency but expect to return to work can access up to at least six weeks of benefits. Employers reducing hours but not furloughing employees can partner with CTDOL’s Shared Work program, which allows employers to reduce employees’ work schedules by 10 percent to 60 percent and supplement lost wages with unemployment benefits.
Connecticut unemployment insurance already excluded the waiting period other states have removed.
For a document containing a list of Frequently Asked Questions for workers and businesses regarding unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
Anyone who loses employment qualifies for health insurance through AccessHealthCT
Office of Health Strategy Executive Director Vicki Veltri is reminding all Connecticut residents that any worker in the state who receives health insurance through their employer, becomes unemployed, and loses minimum essential coverage or receives COBRA – whether it is due to the COVID-19 outbreak or otherwise – qualifies all year-long for open enrollment through AccessHealthCT, the state’s health insurance marketplace. Those interested in applying can find more information at learn.accesshealthct.com/special.
Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority orders moratorium on shut-offs
In response to a petition filed yesterday by Attorney General William Tong, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has ordered the gas, electric, and water public service companies it regulates to implement a shut-off moratorium and refrain from terminating utility service to residential customers, except for reasons of public safety, for a 30-day period subject to renewal to ensure all residents may safely remain home during the epidemic.
Temporary suspension of certain state agency programs and services
Several Connecticut state agencies have made the decision to temporarily suspend certain programs and services in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to state employees and the public. The closures include:
DEEP is closing all of its visitor centers and facilities associates with its State Parks that are open to the public and receive significant visitor traffic throughout the day. Examples include the visitor center at Dinosaur State Park and the Meigs Point Nature Center at Hammonasset State Park. The closures are effective immediately.
DEEP is also immediately suspending large gatherings at all of their facilities and parks. These include, for example, weddings that are held at Harkness Memorial State Park. The agency is typically required to provide custodial and other facilities support for these kinds of events. DEEP is sending cancellation notices to the groups that made reservations for these large gatherings through at least the end of April.
CTDOL is suspending the federal RESEA work-search program effective immediately. This program involves a more intensive process that mandates recipients of unemployment insurance go to the American Job Centers in person and receive one-on-one help. The agency anticipated serving 9,030 people this year. Suspending this program will reduce traffic in the centers and help limit in-person contact with the public. The agency still anticipates reaching its goal of serving 9,030 people this year.
Other Things to do
Social distancing doesn’t have to be boring, and there are myriad activities available from taking a walk or a hike, riding a bicycle, reading a good book or taking a virtual tour of a magnificent gallery or museum. The links below offer great starting points, but I know you’ll also find other fun things to do.
Hike at a land preserve: http://www.ctconservation.org/findalandtrust
Find a hiking trail : https://www.ctwoodlands.org/
Museum of Natural History: http://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour
Science Fun for Everyone: http://www.sciencefun.org/kidszone/experiments/
Live presentations from the New England Aquarium: https://www.neaq.org/visit/at-home-events-and-activities/
Providing Continuing Information to Connecticut Residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, including guidance and other resources, all residents in the state are encouraged to visit https://portal.ct.gov/coronavirus
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The information line is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance and TDD/TTY access for those with a hearing impairment. The hotline only intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider to seek treatment.
As part of the effort to slow the spread of the outbreak, the legislative leaders have announced the closure of the Legislative Office Building and State Capitol until further notice. During this time the building will undergo a thorough cleaning and employees will continue working remotely. The General Assembly is currently convened in the “short session” which runs from February 5th through May 6th. Leaders of the House and Senate Republican and Democrat caucuses will continue to meet and discuss the extension of committee deadlines and how to proceed with legislative business.
Please share these resources with anyone you think may benefit from this information.