State Copes With Jobless Surge, Creates Nursing Home Plan

AP
April 02, 2020 - 11:24 am

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut officials are struggling to handle an
overwhelming number of unemployment claims stemming from the coronavirus
outbreak, Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday.
 The governor said during an MSNBC interview that hundreds of retired state
employees have been brought in to handle the surge. He said earlier this week
that there have been 100,000 claims for unemployment compensation filed in
recent weeks in Connecticut, creating a five-week lag in money getting to
applicants.
 "It spiked up a factor of ten, fifteenfold compared to anything we were ready
for, certainly anything our 40-year-old ... unemployment processing system was
ready for," said Lamont, a Democrat. "We're doing everything we can to catch up,
but we're not catching up yet."
 Lamont also urged federal officials to consider Connecticut part of the
escalating COVID-19 outbreak in bordering New York in terms of providing medical
supplies, including personal protective equipment.
 "We're part of that New York City pandemic, and southern Connecticut has just
about the same infection rate," he said. And what is good for New York Gov.
Andrew Cuomo "is good for me and Connecticut, because he can't put out the fire
in New York if I can't put it out in lower Connecticut."
 As of Wednesday, more than 3,500 state residents have tested positive for the
virus, and 85 have died. For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate
symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For
some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can
cause more severe illness or death.
     In other developments related to the outbreak:
     ___
     NURSING HOMES
 The Lamont administration plans to move some residents living in Connecticut's
long-term care facilities to create dedicated spaces for those who have tested
positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
 Under his latest executive order, anyone diagnosed positive in a hospital and
later admitted to a nursing home will be monitored and assessed for 14 days in a
segregated area with other residents who tested positive.
 Meanwhile, any residents of some long-term care facilities who either test
negative or display no symptoms will be able to voluntarily transfer to
facilities where there are no residents with the virus. Also, under Lamont's
plan, some nursing homes will house only infected individuals.
 There also are plans to create space in nursing homes that have recently
closed, as well.
     ___
     DETAINED IMMIGRANTS
 Advocates for immigrants being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs
Enforcement in New England rallied in Hartford on Thursday, arguing the
detainees are being held in unsafe conditions because of the outbreak.
 A convoy of vehicles, decorated with protest signs, circled outside U.S.
District Court in Hartford, honking horns and calling for ICE to free
Connecticut residents being held in the Bristol County Correctional Center in
Dartmouth, Massachusetts.
 A lawsuit filed with the help Yale Law School's Worker and Immigrant Rights
Advocacy clinic argues the inmates there are being kept in unsanitary bunk rooms
where social distancing is not possible.
 "The more people ICE continues to arrest, the greater likelihood that COVID-19
sweeps through Bristol County, if it is not there already," said Megan Yan, a
Yale law student intern working on the case. "This continued detention is
unjust, inhumane and unconstitutional."
 Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson has dismissed the suit as "completely
frivolous." ICE officials have said they continue "to maintain confidence" in
the jail but declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.

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