Reopening Still on Track; DPH Commissioner Out

Hospitalizations Drop to Less Than 1,200

Dave Mager
May 12, 2020 - 10:06 pm
CT DPH map of COVID-19 hospitalizations by county, 5/12/20

@CTDPH/ Governor's Office

Gov. Ned Lamont says most of the factors he's been watching suggest that Connecticut can go ahead with a scheduled, limited reopening for offices, restaurants, retail and more.

The planning for those big steps on May 20th is steady, even as the governor has ordered a major personnel change in his Department of Public Health.

According to the Associated Press, a state official who spoke on condition of anonymity says DPH Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell was removed, in part, for acting too slowly to protect nursing home residents. 

In a statement released by her attorney, Coleman-Mitchell says she was told by the governor's staff that she was not removed for her job performance. She says, "Our coordinated response to the COVID-19 public health crisis earned praise from public health experts around the country."

Details from the governor's Tuesday news briefing:

"GOOD ON THE METRICS"

Hospitalizations have dropped below 1,200 statewide, continuing a trend that started after they peaked at almost 2,000 on Apr. 22nd. Hospital capacity never came close to maxing out statewide. Some temporary spillover facilities have already been closed because they're not needed.

While the governor remains confident about the May 20th date, state officials are sitll working towards the testing and tracing capacities they've been targeting. 

Yale New Haven Health and The Jackson Laboratory will continue to pitch in with increased testing.

State COO Josh Geballe says the unprecedented contact tracing effort to detect and contain the virus' spread is underway: "That system is up and operational and we're onboarding the first public health departments this week, and we'll be off to the races."

"And then, from there, we turn our attention to the volunteers and the additional staff that can become the surge capacity for our local health departments. If there is a flare-up in a certain area, we can deploy more resources. That's really intended to be live for the summer, in case we see flareups... we have resources we can rapidly deploy."

Geballe says there are about 300 local and state public health officals ready to track-and-trace now. The state plans to bring on 400 to 500 volunteers.

BUDGET BUSTER

Gov. Lamont on COVID-19's dire financial consequences for the state: "It's not that pretty. We were probably looking at a $1 billion deficit in this fiscal year, that ends June 30. As you can imagine, we went from being in pretty good shape to a deficit and that all happened in about 90 days. Thank goodness we've got a $2.5 billion dollar 'rainy day fund' that allows us to power through, at least for this calendar year. We're looking at next year. That's going to be a deficit probably of $2 billion to $3 billion. It really depends how soon the consumer gets their confidence back, and what we do with this COVID, and how we get it under control. If people can slowly start getting back to work, we see the sales tax coming back, the income tax coming back, we'll be able to weather this without a lot of severe cuts, and I think that's what our goal is." 

LATEST STATS FROM DPH

--3,041 deaths (+33)

--1,189 hospitalized (-23)

--138,424 (roughly 4.1%  of the state population) tests conducted; (+5,916)