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Connecticut sees 1,000 more COVID-19 cases in 24 hours

Connecticut's communities of color are being hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 200 cases of COVID-19 reported per 100,000 African Americans and about 175 cases per 100,000 Hispanics, Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday.

Among the state's white residents, the rate of infection is about 100 per 100,000. Among Asians, it's about 50 per 100,000.

Lamont featured the breakdown by ethnicity at his daily news briefing, saying the state has to do more to address the pandemic's effect on "underserved communities." His office later released new data showing the state had counted 1,000 more COVID-19 cases since Tuesday, raising the total to 8,781. Deaths associated with the disease increased by 58 to 335.

In New London County, the number of COVID-19 cases grew to 120. Five deaths in the county have now been associated with the disease. Lawrence + Memorial Hospital reported it was treating 12 inpatients who had tested positive for COVID-19. Westerly Hospital was treating six.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state increased by 110 to 1,418.

Lamont said the disparity in infection rates is not simply a reflection of the availability of testing. African Americans and Hispanics, he said, are more likely to be on the front lines of the pandemic in "forward-facing" jobs — nurses, day care providers and grocery store workers. And they're more likely to live in densely populated urban areas, where it's harder to practice social distancing and where COVID-19 is known to spread more quickly.

The governor said the state was working to provide hotel space for people finding it difficult to quarantine themselves.

He said the fact that African Americans are more likely than whites to have pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes and asthma may account for the disparity in death rates among COVID-19 patients. Among African Americans in Connecticut, the rate of deaths associated with the disease is 12 per 100,000 while among whites it's nine per 100,000.

Separately, Lamont announced Wednesday that he is directing U.S. and State of Connecticut flags to be lowered to half-staff statewide, effective immediately, to recognize all who have been affected by COVID-19 and to mourn for those who have died due to the disease. The flags will remain lowered throughout the emergency, the announcement said. Accordingly, since no flag should fly higher than the U.S. flag, all other flags also should be lowered.

“This global pandemic is impacting the lives of so many families, friends, and loved ones in Connecticut, and we mourn for those who have been impacted,” the governor said in the announcement. “This is an incredibly trying time and a tragic period in our state’s history."

EB reports additional cases

Electric Boat President Kevin Graney, quarantining at home since testing positive last week, informed shipyard employees that Senior Vice President Kurt Hesch also has tested positive.

Hesch, who has been heading EB in Graney's absence, was one of four additional EB cases to surface since the previous day, bringing the company's total to 17.

"Kurt was tested as a precaution when I fell ill, and he reports he has none of the symptoms of COVID-19," Graney said. "As a precautionary measure, Kurt will work from home and will continue to monitor his health. We will strictly follow the CDC protocols to get Kurt back to work as quickly as possible. We are praying for a quick recovery for Kurt and for all of our employees who are recovering from this disease."

Graney said four of the EB workers who contracted COVID-19 are returning to work next week.

The other new EB cases reported Wednesday were described as an individual at Eagle Park who was last at work on March 30; a New London-based employee who was last at work March 20; and a Groton-based employee who works in Building 70 and was last at work March 25.

Graney went on to say EB already has complied with much of Lamont's latest executive order regarding workplace safety, including staggering lunch times in operations areas; starting a second shift in New London; increasing cleaning efforts in high-traffic areas; and encouraging online working and the use of teleconferencing and other technologies to substitute for in-person meetings.

He called on workers to take their temperature before reporting to work each day and to stay home if their temperature is 100 degrees or higher. He said the company has a limited supply of thermometers it can distribute.

Graney said he was feeling better Wednesday and was looking forward to returning to work as soon as he is cleared to do so.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

Editor's Note: Gov. Ned Lamont said African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to be on the front lines of the pandemic.





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