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Inmate at Corrigan tests positive for virus, overall cases jump across the state

Montville — An inmate at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Uncasville has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the state's first prison inmate diagnosed with the virus, officials said Monday.

The 32-year-old man, whose name has not been released for patient privacy, was moved to a negative pressure room after testing positive for coronavirus and has been isolated from the rest of the prison population since he first showed symptoms of the virus, according to the Department of Correction. The specialized room prevents airborne contaminants from releasing into the rest of the facility by allowing air to flow into the room but not out of it, the DOC said.

The man was housed in the Radgowski building, where on March 21 a staff member tested positive for coronavirus, the DOC said. Since the staff member tested positive, all transfers into and out of that building have stopped and staff members have had their temperatures checked twice during each shift.

"We have been prepared for this moment," said DOC Commissioner Rollin Cook. "Thanks to the rapidly decreasing population, our facilities have the room to isolate individuals who contract the virus."

Late Monday afternoon, the state reported an additional 578 Connecticut residents had tested positive for COVID-19 since Sunday's report, increasing the total to 2,571.

A total of 517 patients infected with the coronavirus disease were hospitalized and 36 had died, two in the previous 24 hours.

As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, 24 cases in New London County had been confirmed. No fatalities had yet occurred in New London or Windham counties, the only remaining counties in the state where that still held true.

Late in the afternoon, a Lawrence + Memorial Hospital spokesman reported that there were seven COVID-19 patients there.

Army Corps of Engineers tours Mohegan Sun

At a press briefing in Hartford, Lamont said the state had received a "small delivery" of equipment from the federal government, including 111,000 N95 respirator masks and 146,000 surgical masks as well as a promise of 50 ventilators that had yet to arrive. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had toured facilities around the state in search of space that could be converted to medical use.

Engineers visited Mohegan Sun, the shuttered casino in Uncasville, but had yet to indicate exactly how the sprawling property might be adapted, according to Chuck Bunnell, chief of staff for the Mohegan Tribe, which owns the casino.

Lamont was joined at the briefing in Hartford by the leaders of three of Connecticut's largest health care systems, all of whom he'd named earlier in the day to the Governor's Health System Response Team, which will help coordinate the state's response to the pandemic. The team members — Dr. John Murphy, president and chief executive officer of Nuvance Health; Jeffrey Flaks, president and CEO of Hartford HealthCare; and Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Health — lead systems that represent a total of 14 acute care hospitals and other facilities, close to 70 percent of the state's hospital infrastructure.

Murphy said Norwalk Hospital has about 75 COVID-19 patients and several dozen more "under investigation." Borgstrom said Yale New Haven Health hospitals are treating more than 300 patients, more than half of them at Yale New Haven Hospital. She said Greenwich Hospital had more than 80 patients and that nine of its physicians had tested positive. 

Prisons dropping population to stop spread of virus 

For the first time in 27 years, the Department of Correction's prison population dropped below 12,000 this week. The department has been focused on responsibly releasing eligible offenders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in the prison. The population dropped to 11,900 on Monday, down from 12,409 on March 1, said the DOC.

All offenders who shared a housing unit with the man are being isolated from the rest of the population for 14 days, receiving regular temperature checks and being closely monitored by prison health care staff. The affected unit is undergoing a deep cleaning, the DOC said.

The department has conducted a review of which staff members interacted with the man and are notifying them. No additional staff members have tested positive, the department said.

"Our staff will do everything possible to ensure our incarcerated individuals have the best care we can provide during this pandemic," said Cook.

The Department of Correction has already suspended visitation, implemented ongoing disinfecting efforts and reduced inter-facility transfers. Anyone entering the building is subject to a wellness check and all new inmates are being placed in isolation units for 14-days.

New Coast Guard Academy case

The Coast Guard Academy confirmed Monday night that a fourth cadet has tested positive for COVID-19.  

The three cadets who previously tested positive, all 20-year-olds and in their third year at the academy, were with four of their classmates on a trip to Spain over spring break.

The fourth cadet to test positive, a 20-year-old classmate of theirs, was part of a group of cadets who first traveled to the Netherlands over spring break then met up with the group in Spain. He is quarantining at home in San Antonio, Texas.  The academy has said the other cadets are also isolating themselves at their respective homes.

Of the four cadets who’ve tested positive, two had mild symptoms and the other two had no symptoms whatsoever, academy spokesman Cmdr. Dave Milne said.

Cadets are required to inform the academy if they test positive for the virus.

Staff writer Julia Bergman contributed to this story

t.hartz@theday.com

b.hallenbeck@theday.com







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