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 website portal.ct.gov/coronavirus with daily updates on the situation as it develops and serves as a directory to other helpful online resources. This website has helpful information for families, businesses and community groups.
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.
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*In Connecticut during the early months of this pandemic, it became increasingly clear that it would be necessary to track probable COVID-19 cases and deaths, in addition to laboratory-confirmed (RT- PCR) cases and deaths. This was needed to better measure the burden and impact of this disease in our communities and is now part of the national surveillance case definition for COVID-19. Probable cases of COVID-19 involve persons who have not had confirmatory laboratory testing (RT-PCR) performed for COVID-19, but whose symptoms indicate they are likely to have a COVID-19 infection. In Connecticut, most of the probable COVID-19 cases involve persons whose death certificates list COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as a cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death. Prior to June 1, probable and confirmed cases were reported together.
Latest COVID-19 Testing Data in Connecticut
Updated 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Total patients who tested positive: 43954 confirmed/1959 probable
There have been 4287 COVID-19-associated fatalities.
Fairfield County: 15896/303
Hartford County: 10782/312
Litchfield County: 1406/20
Middlesex County: 1214/38
New Haven County: 11838/150
New London County: 1159/26
Tolland County: 828/14
Windham County: 581/1
Pending address validation: 250/0
Tables containing data about all of the test results completed to date, including a breakdown of the locations and ages of the patients, can be found by visiting ct.gov/coronavirus.
Governor Lamont’s Executive orders:
The state’s Department of Public Health (DPH), with the support of several state agencies, launched the State of Connecticut Joint Information Center (JIC) as part of a coordinated effort to provide critical institutions playing a major role in the response with information on developments related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
The JIC is intended to provide all stakeholders – including the media, municipalities, school districts, hospitals, medical providers, colleges and universities, the business community, and others – with a resource to for specific information related to the State of Connecticut and its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The JIC can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 860-754-8342 or emailing COVID19.JIC@ct.gov.
The JIC has established operations within the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Hartford and is being headed by DPH in coordination with the Office of the Governor, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (including the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and the State Police), the Department of Economic and Community Development, the State Department of Education, the Office of Early Childhood, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Social Services, and others.
Information for Businesses
In Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7X, he extended school closures and other previously declared non-essential businesses until May 20th, including:
Connecticut Recovery Bridge Program
Governor Lamont announced the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Program, an emergency no-interest bridge loan program for Connecticut small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. This new program, overseen by the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), will provide one-year, no-interest loans of up to $75,000 to qualified Connecticut small businesses and non-profits.
This first-come, first-served $25 million short-term emergency bridge loan program is designed to provide cash flow relief to struggling businesses and may be used for salaries and other operating expenses.
All loans will be due in a balloon payment at the end of 12 months, but may be pre-paid without penalty. Applicants are responsible for the payment of DECD’s legal costs to prepare the contract documents, even if the loan is not funded. Payment to DECD for these costs must occur before disbursement.
To be eligible a small business or non-profit must:
A personal guarantee and credit score are required, and the DECD Commissioner has the authority to request collateral to secure any loan provided under this program.
Businesses ineligible to receive the loans include those involved in:
State elected public officials or state employees are also ineligible.
All eligibility and application information can be found on the state’s COVID-19 website at ct.gov/coronavirus.
An overview of the program can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/Coronavirus-Business-Recovery/CT-Recovery-Bridge-Loan-Program
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.
SBA DISASTER RELIEF LOANS – SIMPLIFYING YOUR STEPS TO APPLYING
From: Barbara Coleman-Hekeler, President, Southington Chamber of Commerce
Dear Business Owner:
Many of you have attempted to apply on the SBA website for the Disaster Relief Loans available due to the economic impact COVID-19 continues to have on your business.
If you are among those who received a message stating that your business is not part of the designated area, please consider the steps below.
I personally reached out to the SBA Customer Service Department and spoke with a specialist having her walk me through the steps so that I could help simplify this process for you.
Checking an incorrect box could deem your application ineligible.
STEPS TO APPLY:
VERY IMPORTANT: DO NOT CLICK ANYTHING BUT “ECONOMIC INJURY” AS YOUR REASON FOR APPLYING (If you click anything but “Economic Injury” or anything in addition to “Economic Injury” you will be denied. These are working capital loans and any other reason you check automatically renders you ineligible. You will need to apply again properly for your application to even be reviewed.)
If after taking these proper steps you still have issues, please let me know. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and responses regarding eligibility, loan amounts, need for collateral, interest rates, etc.
The U.S. Small Business Administration approved Governor’s request to begin offering disaster-relief loans to small businesses and nonprofits in Connecticut. This announces that Connecticut businesses now have access to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
How much can you borrow?
Eligible entities may qualify for loans up to $2 million.
The interest rates for this disaster are 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofit organizations with terms up to 30 years.
Eligibility for these working capital loans are based on the size (must be a small business) and type of business and its financial resources.
How can you use the loans?
These are working capital loans that may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits for expansion.
What type of small businesses can apply?
Examples of eligible industries include but are not limited to hotels, recreational facilities, charter boats, manufacturers, sports vendors, owners of rental property, restaurants, retailers, souvenir shops, travel agencies, and wholesalers.
What other criteria is involved?
The applicant business must have a physical presence in the declared disaster area. An applicants economic presence alone in a declared area does not meet this requirement. The physical presence must be tangible and significant. Merely having a P.O. Box in the disaster area would not qualify as a physical presence.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans over $25,000 require collateral
SBA rakes real estate as collateral when it is available.
SBA will not decline a loan for lack collateral, but requires borrowers to pledge what is available.
How to apply!
Applicants do not go through a bank to apply. Instead apply directly to SBA’s Disaster Assistance Program at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
There is no cost to apply.
There is no obligation to take the loan if offered.
The maximum unsecured loan is $25,000.
Applicants can have an existing SBA Disaster Loan and still qualify for an EIDL for this disaster, but the loans cannot be consolidated.
Please let me know if I may be of further assistance. These are uncertain times in uncharted territory for many of us. Your Chamber is working hard on your behalf to help meet the expressed needs of your business. Continue to reach out daily by phone or email. Together we will accomplish what no one person can alone.
President, Southington Chamber of Commerce
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.
For more information, please go to the Southington Public School Covid-19 Information Page.
Learn at Home
Scholastic learn at home: https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
Virtual College Tours: https://www.youvisit.com/collegesearch/
In response to the Coronavirus and subsequent closure of colleges statewide, Connecticut State College and Universities (CSCU) system President Ojakian announced measures they are taking to assist families financially and to support relief efforts and medical staff responding to the crisis.
Help with Federal Student Aid
With the uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak and suspension of classes at many schools, colleges and universities nationwide, Federal Student Aid (an office of the U.S. Department of Education) updated their website with information specifically for people with questions regarding student loans.
According to their site, “If you’re concerned about your studies or loan repayment, we can help you understand what to do in certain circumstances. We’ll be adding information for students, borrowers, and parents to this page on a regular basis, so please check back frequently.”
If you have questions about student aid, please go to: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/coronavirus
Medicare Expansion of Telemedicine
Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency. These services expand the current telehealth covered services, to help you have access from more places (including your home), with a wider range of communication tools (including smartphones), to interact with a range of providers (such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social worker). During this time, you will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings. This will help ensure you are able to visit with your doctor from your home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, which puts you and others at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
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.
The link includes important information regarding benefits, availability, recourse if you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated and much more.
For a document containing a list of Frequently Asked Questions for workers and businesses regarding unemployment insurance during the COVID-19 outbreak, click here.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Offering Loan Assistance
Federal loan companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have prepared options to provide relief to homeowners struggling with work slowdowns, layoffs and job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of their modifications include suspension of foreclosures and evictions, delayed reporting to credit bureaus and loan forbearance for up to 12 months, and more.
It’s important to note: these measures are NOT automatic and must be applied for, and you must have a loan secured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. You must contact your lender or servicer directly.
Under Fannie Mae’s guidelines for single-family mortgages:
More information can be found here: https://www.fanniemae.com/portal/media/corporate-news/2020/covid-homeowner-assistance-options-7000.html
We are taking action to help make sure homeowners with Freddie Mac-owned mortgages who are directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19 are able to stay in their homes during this challenging time. This includes offering the following mortgage relief options for those who are unable to make their mortgage payments due to a decline in income:
More information can be found here: http://www.freddiemac.com/about/covid-19.html
These measures apply to loans made with either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, but other lenders may have similar plans in place. If you need assistance please contact your lender directly.
This information is not intended to be legal or financial advice, as always, please check with your lender/servicer for relief options that may be available to you.
Help for Residential Renters
Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7X provided potential relief for residential renters during the pandemic.
Section 1 – For residential renters – *this is NOT rent forgiveness*
* nothing in this order shall relieve a tenant of liability for unpaid rent or of the obligation to comply with other terms of a rental agreement.
* nothing in this order shall relieve a landlord of the obligation to comply with a rental agreement.
Beware of Scammers
The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) said it is working with the National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) to stop scammers.
In an email, they wrote: In times of uncertainty, people often seek financial security. Unfortunately, the pandemic has resulted in numerous scams. The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) is working with the National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) to assist the interagency crisis action task force. With members in every Congressional district, NAIFA is uniquely situated to help with situational intelligence and deliver credible resources.
NAIFA’s consumer site provides individuals and businesses with information to avoid scams, tips on who to contact regarding health claims/questions, as well as how to find licensed, knowledgeable, ethical professionals to assist with financial security planning.
Consumers can find more information at https://security.naifa.org/covid-19 or one of the many NAIFA members licensed in the state.
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.
AccessHealthCT also announced a NEW Special Enrollment Period for certain uninsured Connecticut residents to sign up for a health insurance plan offered by either of AHCT’s two insurance carriers.
Connecticut Public Utility Regulatory Authority orders moratorium on shut-offs
In response to a petition filed 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 Monday, March 30th. 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.