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State Sen. Needleman – COVID-19 April 27, 2020 Update — Wearing Masks At Work, Employment Opportunities, and New Rules For Nursing Homes

From our State Senator, Norm Needleman.

Several companies that produce disinfectant products have warned the public that their products should not be ingested or injected as a treatment for COVID-19.

The manufacturer of Lysol and Dettol disinfectant agents said this week that “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body through injection, ingestion or any other route.” Disinfectant products can have a poisonous effect if consumed, posing an additional risk to individuals concerned about COVID-19. They are safe for cleaning homes and surfaces and should be used only for purposes advertised on product labels.

Official Guidelines For Wearing Masks At Work

The Department of Economic and Community Development has released new guidance on workplace rules regarding the use of face masks and cloth face coverings. They are as follows:

  • Each employee is required to wear a mask or cloth covering over their mouth and nose in the workplace except for eating or drinking during a break. Employers will issue masks or face coverings; if they cannot, they must provide materials and tutorials to employees about how to create cloth face coverings or compensate them for the costs of developing such materials.
  • In workplace settings where employees work alone in separated spaces, such as private offices, they may remove their masks. However, they still must wear masks from the entrance of the building to their arrival at their workstation, and must wear masks when they leave their workstation and move around common areas. Employees working in open settings should wear face coverings at all times except when on break; employees working outside are not required to wear masks if they do not regularly come within six feet of other employees.

Additionally, the DECD has issued additional language regarding confirmed COVID-19 infections. Employers must inform fellow employees of possible exposure to COVID-19 while retaining confidentiality. Employees should then self-monitor for symptoms. The company should ventilate, clean and disinfect all impacted spaces, especially common rooms and shared equipment.

The full rules are available on the Department of Economic and Community Development website.

New Medical Provisions

In an effort to improve medical responses, a new executive order signed by Governor Ned Lamont has made health care more accessible in the following ways:

  • Licensed dentists, behavioral analysts, genetic counselors, music and art therapists, and veterinarians can now provide telehealth to clients.
  • Medicaid-enrolled providers and in-network providers for commercial insured health insurance have increased flexibility to perform telehealth.
  • For a sixty-day period, licensing requirements for occupational therapists, addiction counselors, radiographers, dentists, behavioral analysts and other positions have been suspended.
  • If a hospital administrator documents their ability to perform, a person can now participate in intern or resident physician candidate programs prior to issuance of a permit, and can participate in resident physician assistant programs prior under the same circumstances.

More important steps that will ease limits and expand available health care workers are available in the full executive order.

New Rules for Nursing Homes

Under the Governor’s executive order, nursing homes and other communities will be required to do the following:

  • All managed residential communities, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities, must provide daily status reports to the state using the Connecticut Hospital and Long-Term Care Mutual Aid Plan.
  • Any nursing homes that do not comply will face penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.
  • The Department of Social Services Commissioner can temporarily waive, suspend or modify any prior authorization and other utilization review requirements.
  • The DSS Commissioner can waive, suspend or modify requirements to reserve beds for residents on home leave or hospitalization to better serve patients if needed.
  • Providers of medical equipment, devices and supplies can have their need to obtain a signed delivery receipt from a Medicaid member waived by the Commissioner.

Connecticut May Join Regional Contract Tracing Effort

Governor Lamont announced it has initiated discussions with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy to develop a regional contract tracing strategy. The three states in the tristate area have an opportunity to combine forces and approach contact tracing in a way benefitting them all, especially commuters in and out of New York City. Contact tracing is an important tool to fight COVID-19 – it sees workers interview individuals infected with COVID-19, working backwards to inform people who may have been exposed to the disease to take precautions and avoid further spreading the disease.

Employment Opportunities

While there have been a staggering number of layoffs, furloughs and job losses in recent weeks, the Hartford Courant has compiled a list of job opportunities in our state. They include:

  • Ace Hardware seeks to hire 30,000 employees nationwide, including at its 20 Connecticut locations
  • Amazon, having already hired 100,000 new employees, recently announced an effort to hire another 75,000. In the greater Hartford region, it is hiring drivers and warehouse associates.
  • CVS has already hired 380 people in Connecticut, part of a nationwide effort to hire 50,000.
  • Walgreens is hiring in the Greater Hartford area with positions including store associates and pharmacists.
  • Lowes lists more than 100 jobs in Connecticut on its website.

Other key companies hiring include DoorDash, which is focused on hiring those in the restaurant industry who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 related circumstances; Instacart, which provides home grocery deliveries; FedEx, UPS and the United States Postal Service; online educations seeking tutors; food, grocery and convenience stores; and banks.

Links to job openings are available at the Courant link.

Recognizing the Valley Regional High School Senior Class of 2020

Many parts of our regular lives have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, with schools being one of the most heavily interrupted. Usually, coming into the spring of each year, seniors in high school get to celebrate their hard work and determination from their four years of learning and growing. However, this year, it is unlikely seniors will get to celebrate at their proms, graduations and senior weeks. Because of this, the class advisors have asked members of the community and local businesses to post messages congratulating seniors in windows, doors, driveways, trees or wherever else they can make a different. Students need to know that while their typical celebrations are no longer in effect, we are still celebrating their hard work.

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