Lamont having second thoughts about third phase of reopening

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters Wednesday that he is weighing whether to delay the state’s reopening from the coronavirus outbreak due to flare-ups in other states. -PAUL HUGHES/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

MANCHESTER — Gov. Ned Lamont is rethinking the state’s reopening plans, including opening up Connecticut bars again, because of outbreaks of coronavirus disease occurring in other states.

While Lamont told reporters Wednesday that the first two reopening stages have gone smoothly, he said he is having second thoughts about proceeding to the next phase three weeks from now.

“I am sort of inclined to think about a pause before we do anything because I’m looking at the flare-ups. They’re getting closer to Connecticut. Thank God we have got neighbors with low infection rates as well. I feel like we are in a good place right now,” Lamont said.

The latest daily numbers Wednesday showed 58 more positive cases of COVID-19 were reported since Tuesday, plus two more deaths and two more hospitalizations. There were also 11,448 more tests completed.

Overall, there have been approximately 46,570 cases of COVID-19, 4,320 deaths and 10,270 hospitalizations in the state. There have also been roughly 475,860 tests done.

“We did our first stage of reopening five, six weeks ago. Our trend lines have been getting better and better,” Lamont said.

The Naugatuck Valley Health District reported Wednesday there have been 379 confirmed cases in Naugatuck and 52 in Beacon Falls. There have been 36 confirmed deaths associated with coronavirus and three probable deaths in Naugatuck, according to the health district, and none in Beacon Falls.

As of Tuesday, the Chesprocott Health District reported there have been 70 cases in Prospect and no coronavirus-related deaths in town.

The next reopening phase has been tentatively set for on or around July 20.

As originally planned, bars, indoor event spaces and venues, and indoor amusement parks and arcades would open back up to the public then. Also, the capacity limit for outdoor event venues such as amphitheaters and race tracks would double from 25% to 50%.

Lamont said he is considering slowing the state’s gradual reopening because of the COVID-19 outbreaks in other states, including ones that reopened earlier than Connecticut and did not follow the same precautions.

“We didn’t do it as early as some other states. We waited for the metrics to go down,” he said.

Lamont is concerned about reopening bars after states such as Arizona, California Texas and Florida clamped down on bars again amid a resurgence of the virus. He raised the possibility of pushing back the date for opening up again on Wednesday.

“Look, Texas loves their bars. Maimi Beach loves their bars. Arizona loves their bars. They opened them too early, and they closed them down because of what they saw happened there,” Lamont said.

He deflected when asked if he might keep Connecticut bars closed until after the Labor Day holiday in September, but he was also clear that he is prepared to take that step to protect public health.

“I’m going to err on the side of caution, absolutely,” Lamont said.

He did not indicate that he is considering reinstituting any restrictions on businesses and other activities that were relaxed in the first two reopening stages.

The state was expected to progress to the final phase in four to six weeks after the third reopening stage.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this report.

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