Lamont may revise travel rules

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By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont plans to revise the standards for determining if travelers from other states with high COVID-19 rates must quarantine upon arrival in Connecticut.

Lamont and top aides explained Monday the metrics for the travel advisory are being changed because the current ones apply so broadly that visitors from almost all 50 states are subject to its requirements as COVID-19 spreads in much of the U.S.

At this time, the regional policy developed in conjunction with New York and New Jersey applies to states that either have more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% positive test rate on a rolling seven-day average.

The revised standards will cover visitors from states that have both more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 5% or higher.

Travelers will be required to quarantine for 14 days unless they have tested negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours of departure. Also, anyone who tests negative after arriving in Connecticut will not have to quarantine for the full two weeks.

Lamont said he expects to make a final announcement on the new policy later this week after consultations with New York and New Jersey. He said the governor’s office is also conferring with Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York City.

LAMONT, NEW YORK GOV. ANDREW CUOMO and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy implemented a tri-state travel advisory on June 24 to limit the spread of COVID-19 to their states.

At this time, 36 states and the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam are on the watch list. The advisory is updated weekly every Tuesday.

While Lamont and aides said the new metrics will narrow the reach of the regional travel policy, they estimated 33 states and territories would be subject to the revised advisory.

Currently, Connecticut has slightly more than 10 cases per 100,000 residents, but the positivity rate on Monday was 1.9% based on a seven-day average.

The state continues to require travelers to Connecticut to fill out a form that reports where they will be staying and their contact information, how they will quarantine, and their travel companions.

This requirement applies to returning state residents. Lamont said college students planning to return to Connecticut for the Thanksgiving holiday and their families should rethink travel plans.

To date, 45 people have been cited for failing to fill out the required travel form or violating the advisory, said Josh Geballe, chief operating officer of the Lamont administration. Violations carry a $1,000 fine.

Geballe said most of the violators have been Connecticut residents.

Lamont said the revised travel advisory will continue to exempt travelers remaining in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey for less than 24 hours. Essential workers traveling to the three states are also exempted.

AN ADDITIONAL 1,091 COVID-19 CASES were reported out of 71,905 tests that were received over the weekend.

There now have been 64,021 cases since the first infections were reported in early March, and the number of diagnostic tests performed topped the 2 million mark with the additional tests that were received between Friday and Sunday.

The number of hospitalizations creeped closer to 200 over the weekend. There was a net increase of 11 patients hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 195 statewide. Hospitalizations have been below 200 since mid-June.

There was a net increase of 11 hospitalizations in Hartford County to 65. An additional three patients brought the Fairfield County total to 51, and there was a decline of three patients in New Haven County to 46.

There was also a net decrease of three patients in New London County to 20 patients. Rising case counts led state health officials to recently issue back-to-back COVID-19 alerts for the cities of New London and Norwich.

A dozen more coronavirus-associated deaths were recorded between Friday and Sunday. There now have been 4,554 fatalities in the state’s outbreak.

There have been 1,449 deaths in Hartford County, 1,429 in Fairfield County and 1,120 in New Haven County. The deaths in the other five counties totaled 556 on Monday, including 143 in Litchfield County.

THE NAUGATUCK VALLEY HEALTH DISTRICT said Monday there were six new cases reported in Naugatuck and four additional cases in Beacon Falls since Friday. The health district reported there have been 495 confirmed cases in Naugatuck and 65 in Beacon Falls.

Overall, the health district reported 32 new cases since Friday in its jurisdiction, which also includes Ansonia, Derby, Seymour and Shelton. The new cases brought the total in the six municipalities to 2,013 since March.

The health district reported no additional coronavirus-associated deaths over the weekend. There have been 41 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck and none in Beacon Falls, according to health officials. There have been 244 coronavirus-associated deaths overall in the district’s six towns.

The Chesprocott Health District’s weekly update reported Friday showed there have been 109 coronavirus cases in Prospect — an additional 11 cases since Oct. 9. There have been no coronavirus-associated deaths in Prospect, according to the health district.

Chesprocott also serves Cheshire and Wolcott. Overall, the health district reported Friday there have been 582 cases, an increase of 43 from the week before, in the three towns. There have been 33 coronavirus-related deaths in the towns, which didn’t change from the Oct. 9 report.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.