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State Sen. Needleman – COVID-19 Update July 2, 2020: Advice for Enjoying the Fourth of July; Assistance for Renters, Homeowners, & Residential Landlords

By State Senator, Norm Needleman.

As the coronavirus pandemic is still present, this holiday weekend you may want to be cautious. While  most of us are used to spending the long weekend with friends at barbecues, the beach or the pool, please take extra precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe. While this doesn’t necessarily mean canceling your plans for the day, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself and others around you healthy this holiday. Connecticut’s response to COVID-19 has been strong, but for that success to continue, we all must work together.

Below, I’ve included some safety tips about how to stay safe this weekend. In addition, I ask you to please wear masks and socially distance whenever necessary, and to continue washing your hands and using proper hygiene. This year has been difficult, but Connecticut is rising to the extreme challenges this unique situation has created.

Please take a few minutes over the next few days to reflect on the significance of the 4th of July and the things binding us together as Americans. In times like these, we must remember we are all working together toward the same goal.

Precautions to take while eating out at a restaurant:

  • Sit at a table with a minimum distance of six feet from other tables.
  • Sit outside.
  • Visit restaurants that offer contactless menus.
  • Wear a face mask when entering and exiting restaurant.

Precautions to take if booking a rental home or hotel room:

  • Check the new guidance of sanitation procedures of where you will be staying ahead of arrival.
  • Maintain social distance from those around you.
  • Minimize contact with surfaces: tabletops, chairs, bathroom sinks, covers and high-touch surfaces like elevator buttons and door handles.
  • Minimize time in enclosed, less ventilated spaced, like elevators.
  • Wear a face covering in common areas.

Precautions to take at a beach or pool:

  • Maintain six feet from others and wear a mask while entering and exiting.
  • Bring your own disinfectant wipes to clean shared chairs or pool toys.
  • Don’t swim too close to others.

Precautions to take at a barbecue:

  • Have everyone bring their own food and plastic utensils.
  • Hot dogs and hamburgers should go directly from the grill to a person’s plate, not a big tray of food.
  • Different households should sit together, separately from others.

Precautions to take if going camping:

  • Find a campground that has few to no people around you. If there are other campers near you, maintain social distancing and wear a face mask.
  • Bring your own soap, hand sanitizer, paper towels, surface disinfectants and toilet paper.
  • Avoid contact sports.
  • Avoid touching high-touch surfaces areas.

New Assistance for Renters, Homeowners, and Residential Landlords Impacted by COVID-19

A new plan has been announced to put over $33 million in state and federal resources to work to provide emergency assistance to renters, homeowners, and residential landlords impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. All housing assistance programs administered through the state and through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) will include housing counseling to help renters and homeowners develop plans to pay housing costs going forward. The breakdown of the plan is as follows:

  • $10 million toward a rental assistance program, with a focus on supporting low-income households who have been denied unemployment insurance
  • $5 million for eviction prevention for renters in the process of eviction before the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration
  • $10 million to provide mortgage relief to homeowners and whose mortgages are not federally insured
  • $4 million in rapid rehousing funds to help pay expenses, such as, security deposits
  • $2.5 million rental assistance program to support people ineligible for emergency assistance through the federal CARES Act, including undocumented individuals
  • $1.8 million in funding for reentry and rehousing assistance

In addition, the residential eviction moratorium has been extended to August 25 and the opportunity to apply a portion of any security deposit worth more than one month’s rent toward rental payments has been given an extension. For more information please visit the following websites:

 

Expanding the Connecticut Youth Employment Program

The state will utilize $2 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to expand the Connecticut Youth Employment Program, which provides year-round employment opportunities to Connecticut’s youth through community-based agencies. This program expansion will help community health agencies during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic by providing them with critical support and education to assist marginalized populations, which have been impacted more severely by the pandemic than other groups. This funding will bolster the program’s previously allotted $4.5 million; it runs on a budget, in total, of $7.1 million this year. Last year, with $5.6 million in funding, the program employed more than 1,700 people.

Planned employment opportunities will include virtual outreach through social media to promote safe health; delivery of educational materials to communities; outreach and assistance for homebound families; and fostering youth-to-youth connections, including acting as social distancing ambassadors. Anyone interested in learning more about the program should contact their regional workforce development board.

New Online Learning Hub Launched for Children and Parents

The State Department of Education has launched an online learning hub for children and parents in the state. This hub is a free centralized platform to provide students, teachers, and families with universally available, multilingual, quality content in order to advance equitable access and support the professional learning and resources for the development of continuous blended learning models. It is aimed at putting tools and resources in the hands of families at any time. There are already assignments listed under the summer learning tab if students choose to do them. The learning hub is linked to the state’s website.

Pediatricians Urge Parents Not to Delay Important Pediatric Care

As Connecticut returns back to normalcy and many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, pediatricians are now urging parents and guardians to resume in-person pediatric visits. These wellness visits have significantly dropped because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed vaccinations, screenings and other necessary consultations to ensure the health and wellbeing of children. There is now concern that the delay in visits could result in a spike or reappearance of vaccine-preventable illnesses. Parents should know there is guidance from the CDC that is being put in place in these offices to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Parents can expect the following when visiting a pediatrician:

  • All sick visits and well-child visits are scheduled at different times of the day
  • All staff are wearing personal protective equipment.
  • All patients and parents are screened for symptoms of illness and COVID-19 exposure.
  • All patients have their temperature taken.
  • All patients are provided a mask and asked to clean their hands before entering.

Minor League Baseball’s 2020 Season Canceled, No Yard Goats Games

Unfortunately, the Yard Goats will not be playing baseball this summer because of Minor League Baseball’s announcement cancelling this season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Major League Baseball players are now preparing for their season to begin in late July, but there isn’t time for teams to organize minor league players who have been home since camps closed down in March. Major League games will be played on TV but no fans will be present. The Norwich Sea Unicorns will also be unable to play their season at Dodd Stadium.

Connecticut Retailers Have Resumed Plastic Bag Fee

A reminder to all Connecticut residents that the plastic bag fee that was temporarily suspended on March 26 because of the coronavirus pandemic resumed on July 1. Retailers will begin collecting the 10-cent fee from shoppers for single-use bags. This plastic bag fee, which applies statewide, is collected by retailers and then given to the Department of Revenue Services on their state sales and use tax return. Every retailer in the state that provides plastic bags at checkout is required to collect the plastic bag fee. Connecticut residents are encouraged to use reusable bags while shopping.

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