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Lamont to declare health and civil emergency over COVID-19

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut's governor said Tuesday he will declare both a public health and civil preparedness emergency in response to the new coronavirus. The moves would allow him to do things such as order quarantines to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, after a second person tested positive for the virus.

For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

Some of the steps taken in Connecticut on Tuesday include:

Emergency

Gov. Ned Lamont announced that he will sign declarations enacting civil preparedness and public health emergencies in Connecticut in response to the outbreak. The Democratic governor tweeted that the move will allow him to take “specific actions.” Under the law, a public health emergency allows the governor to order quarantines, vaccinations and seek federal assistance. A vaccine for the virus is not expected to be ready for months. Under a civil preparedness emergency, the governor would have the power to take measures to protect prison inmates and school children and suspend any law or regulation that he deems in conflict with civil preparedness. Legislative leaders have the right to review and reject any declaration.

High school sports

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school sports in Connecticut, cancelled the state's remaining high school winter sports championship tournaments. Glenn Lungarini, the executive director of the CIAC, said some schools said they would not participate and some venues indicated they could not host the events.

“We certainly understand and appreciate the emotion that sports brings and do take into account that there are seniors that were looking forward to that last game, looking forward to making that run to the championship and to them they certainly get hit with the news now that they they're not going to have the ability to do that," he said.

Capitol cleaning

While several legislative committees continued their work on Tuesday, a modified schedule is planned for the rest of the week and possibly beyond at Connecticut's state Capitol complex to help prevent any spread of the virus.

Activities will be limited on Wednesday to two, shortened public hearings and a planned vote by the House of Representatives and Senate on a borrowing bill. The state Capitol, Legislative Office Building and the Old State House will then be closed to for an extensive cleaning on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Lawmakers immediately closed the complex to any non-legislative events, meetings and gatherings. That's forced groups ranging from the Association of Retired Teachers of Connecticut to the National Kidney Foundation to cancel events where they planned to talk to lawmakers.

Legislative leaders have also agreed to extend committee deadlines, but the General Assembly's May 6th adjournment deadline cannot be changed because it's set in the state's constitution. If lawmakers need more time, they'll have to call a special legislative session.

Parades

Organizers announced that the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hartford, scheduled for Saturday, has been cancelled. That announcement came a day after New Haven scrapped plans for its parade. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city would try to reschedule or find some way to honor the Irish heritage of many of its residents.

Associated Press writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report

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