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Connecticut's COVID-19 cases soar by another 1,003; first Ledyard death reported

In the past 24 hours, another 1,003 people in Connecticut tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease, and there were an additional 45 deaths associated with the disease, including another fatality in southeastern Connecticut.

The town of Ledyard has seen its first death linked to the coronavirus pandemic, a 64-year-old woman, Ledge Light Health District announced in a news release Thursday afternoon.

 “It is with deep regret that I inform our community of the passing of a fellow Ledyard resident today. Please remain vigilant with social distancing, washing hands and sanitizing. My sympathies and prayers go out to this residents’ family and friends,” Mayor Fred Allyn III said in the release.

The health district and its staff will continue to ensure that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols "regarding positive cases and potential contacts are followed," district Director of Health Stephen Mansfield said in the release.

There are 139 confirmed cases in New London County and there's been six coronavirus-associated deaths in the county, according to data from the governor's office.

Groton Town police Chief Louis J. Fusaro Jr. said Thursday in a coronavirus video update that there are now 23 cases in Groton.

Two additional Electric Boat employees have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall total to 19, company President Kevin Graney said Thursday. Both work in Groton and were last on site on March 31 and April 5, respectively.

Graney said the company has started distributing personal strip thermometers, which are placed on a person's forehead for 30 seconds to obtain a temperature reading. He advised employees who don't have a thermometer to contact their supervisor for one. Employees should not show up to work if they have a temperature of 100 degrees Farenheit or higher, he said.

Statewide, 9,784 people have tested positive for COVID-19, with 1,464 patients hospitalized as a result of the disease, and there have been 380 coronavirus-associated deaths, Lamont said Thursday at his daily news briefing.

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London was treating 10 COVID-19 patients, while Westerly Hospital was treating seven, William Hanrahan, a spokesman for the hospitals, said Thursday.

Lamont said one area of hope is the number of daily hospitalizations decreased in the past 24 hours compared to the previous 24 hours. From Tuesday to Wednesday, there were 110 patients hospitalized compared to the 46 who were hospitalized from Wednesday into Thursday.

About 3,000 patients have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 since March 10, and of those, 1,250, or 41%, have been discharged. About 10% of those who have been hospitalized have died, according to state data released Thursday.

Another 1,802 tests were administered in the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 33,502. The state has begun to break down confirmed cases and deaths associated with the disease by ethnicity. Asked whether there are plans to do such a breakdown for testing, Josh Geballe, the governor's chief operating officer, said the state is "at the mercy of the people performing tests." In many cases, he said, the forms given to people before they are tested are not being "completed correctly."

"Our public health team is trying to go back and make sure people are filling them out, but that's an area where the data is incomplete currently," Geballe said.

Lamont said at his daily news briefing Wednesday that 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. The rate of infection is about 100 per 100,000 for the state's white residents. Among Asians, it's about 50 per 100,000.

Lamont said Thursday he is pushing CVS Health Corp. to open large-scale COVID-19 testing sites in Stamford and New Haven "to make sure a more diverse community is being tested."

State and health officials continue to promote social distancing, or people maintaining physical distance — in this case, 6 feet — from one another, avoiding gatherings and staying at home whenever possible, as the best way to slow the spread of the virus.

Working to secure protective equipment

Connecticut has purchased about $50 million worth of personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as surgical masks, gloves and hazmat suits in the past month, and those orders are slowly starting to come in.

On Wednesday, the state received 200,000 N95 respirator masks — so called because they are able to filter out 95% of the microscopic particles in the air that the wearer breathes in and out — that "are being distributed as we speak," Lamont said during his Thursday news briefing.

The state has scoured the globe looking for this equipment used by health care workers and others who are responding to the pandemic. Lamont said the state has some 20 to 30 employees "doing this nonstop, 12 hours a day."

So far, state officials have identified 1,027 sources of the equipment, many of which were "shaky," Lamont said. Of the sources identified, 259 were validated and 78 orders have been placed for nearly 19 million pieces of PPE.

Hospitals also have sought out sources of PPE on their own, which, Lamont said, gives the state "more flexibility" to get this equipment out to first responders, nursing home employees and many other essential workers. Supply is beginning to catch up with demand, he said, which will enable the state to broaden who is getting the equipment to those, such as food service and day care workers, "who are on front lines, as well."

Geballe said what's in supply changes on a daily basis. Currently, there's a shortage of COVID-19 test swabs, he said. Lamont said the "more sophisticated" hospital gowns also are in short supply.

Day Staff Writer Brian Hallenbeck contributed to this report.

j.bergman@theday.com





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