Submitted by Norm Needleman, Senator.
I hope you and your family are staying safe, healthy, and taking a little time to enjoy the warmer temperatures we’ve seen the past few days. Please take a couple of minutes to read an update on COVID-19 including guidance for people fully vaccinated against the virus and Middlesex Hospital visitation policies.
Additionally, I want to share a couple of new developments that may be of interest to you or your family.
New CDC Guidance Regarding Fully Vaccinated Individuals
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. With as much as 10 percent of Connecticut’s population now meeting this guideline, this will likely be welcome news for many people in the state. The new guidelines, which define “fully vaccinated” as someone who is two weeks past their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, provide new guidelines for relaxing some prevention measures:
- Fully vaccinated people do not need masks or social distancing when meeting indoors with those at low risk for COVID-19
- Fully vaccinated people can visit other vaccinated people indoors without masks or physical distancing
- Fully vaccinated people can visit indoors with unvaccinated people from a single family without masks or physical distancing if the unvaccinated people are at low risk for severe disease
- Fully vaccinated people can skip quarantine and testing if exposed to an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier, but should monitor symptoms for 14 days
However, the CDC continued to say vaccinated individuals should still follow several guidelines.
- Fully vaccinated people should still wear masks and socially distance from unvaccinated people at increased risk for severe COVID-19 or if they have a household member at higher risk
- They should also wear masks and stay distanced when visiting unvaccinated people from multiple households
- In public, they should continue to wear masks and remain socially distanced, continuing to follow public health guidelines for the immediate future
- If fully vaccinated people live in non-health care congregate settings like group homes, they should still quarantine and get tested if exposed to suspected or confirmed COVID-19
- The risk of infection in locations like restaurants or gyms will be lower for fully vaccinated individuals, but as transmission risk is inherently higher in those settings, precautions should continue to be followed
- The CDC still recommends against travel due to high case numbers nationwide; this is expected to change domestically in future months as more adults become eligible for vaccination
Middlesex Hospital Loosens COVID-19 Visitation Policies
Middlesex Hospital is loosening its visiting policies as a reaction to stable rates of spread of COVID-19 in the state and area. Hospitalized patients, patients having surgery and patients in the Emergency Department are now allowed one designated visitor each, who will be asked to be designated by the patients upon check-in. Hospital visiting hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, though a guest arriving during established visiting hours may stay until 7:30 p.m.
Exceptions will be made for disability support or visitors making compassionate care visits, who are allowed 24/7. Emergency Department patients may also have one visitor 24/7, and pregnancy and birth center patient visitors are now allowed to come and go any time during that patient’s stay. Patients having surgery must have their visitors leave the hospital during that surgery. All visitors must be listed as designated visitors, wear face masks at all times and screen for COVID-19 symptoms upon entry.
Community Conversations, Including COVID-19 Vaccine, In Colchester
Colchester First Selectwoman Mary Bylone is hosting a series of community conversations with leaders in the local region regarding COVID-19 and the vaccine currently being administered to many people. A recently recorded event saw her speak with Russell Melmed, director of the Chatham Health District, on the status of the virus in our state and plans for rolling out future vaccination clinics.
The next discussion, scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 at 2 p.m., will be with Melmed, Selectman Denise Turner and her mother, with the three of them discussing their experiences with the vaccine and the importance of getting vaccinated. Another discussion, scheduled for Thursday, March 25 at 6 p.m., will see Assessor John Chaponis discuss the town’s Grand List and the corresponding Data Mailer. More information is available on the Colchester Community Calendar Page.
New Developments Supporting Children, Open of Fishing Season, and Helping Small Businesses
USDA Extends Free Meals to Children through Summer
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the nationwide extension of several waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through September 30, 2021. The waivers extended today allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. In addition, the waivers:
- Allow meals served through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option – collectively known as “summer meals programs” – to be available in all areas at no cost
- Allow meals to be served outside of the normally required group settings and meal times
- Allow parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children, including bulk pick-up to cover multiple days
Connecticut Fishing Season Opens Early
Governor Lamont signed an Executive Order to open the fishing season early, effective March 4. The increased access to outdoor recreation will provide residents with help in physical and emotional health, and fishing is growing in popularity; in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic set in, the state saw a 1/6 increase in new fishing and hunting license sales. Social distancing, mask wearing, and other COVID mitigation efforts remain recommended.
Connecticut Youth Climate Summit Accepting Submissions
The 2021 Connecticut Youth Climate Summit is accepting submissions for the Virtual Youth Art Exhibition, which will see art created by middle and high school students displayed online in a virtual gallery for public viewing during Earth Month in April. Participants are asked to complete the submission form available here to enter – this year’s theme is “How has, or how will, climate change affect you?” Submissions can be made through artwork like drawing, painting or comics, photography, sculpture, digital art, spoken word poetry or original music. Submissions are due by midnight on March 26.
Small Business Administration Hosting PPP Loan Webinar for Cosmetologists
The Small Business Administration’s Connecticut District Office will host a webinar for cosmetologists tomorrow, March 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. regarding the new PPP Loan Formula for sole proprietors, independent contractors and the self-employed, educating attendees about the new formula for filers to receive additional financial support – with an application deadline of March 31. Please click here to register for the free webinar.