State’s focus shifts to nursing homes


By Paul Hughes, Republican-American

HARTFORD — The Lamont administration is working to set up nursing homes dedicated for COVID-19 positive or negative residents to limit infection among this highly susceptible group.

Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell on Thursday reported 57 of the state’s 216 nursing homes now have at least one resident who has tested positive for 2019 coronavirus disease.

“It is extremely alarming for us because this is the most, most vulnerable population for us, and we’re really just trying to address their needs being the most vulnerable population,” she said.

Among the nursing homes with at least one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Glendale Center in Naugatuck, the Naugatuck Valley Health District reported Thursday.

Through Tuesday morning, 150 out of the 23,000 residents of long-term care facilities in Connecticut had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the latest figures Thursday. There were 15 deaths and 64 hospitalizations reported.

Coleman-Mitchell said the Lamont administration is racing to spare Connecticut from the deadly havoc that coronavirus wreaked in nursing homes elsewhere in the country.

“You have seen what happened in the state of Washington and other states,” Coleman-Mitchell said. “We are doing our best to work with everybody that we can to not become a situation where this transmission is like wildfire in our nursing homes for our loved ones.”

Nursing homes are now taking steps to isolate confirmed COVID-19 residents from other residents.

Coleman-Mitchell said the Department of Public Health is also exploring other alternatives with other state agencies and the nursing home industry.

One of the options being pursued is dedicating nursing homes for COVID-19 positive and negative residents, and then moving people into designated locations for their status.

This course of action would allow residents who have tested negative and others who are asymptomatic to voluntarily transfer to nursing homes where there are no positive COVID-19 cases.

Another possibility is reopening nursing homes that have recently closed to house COVID-19 cases.

The Lamont administration’s planning suffered a setback Thursday after being informed three of five nursing homes that had been identified as potential coronavirus-only facilities Wednesday night were not available.

The Connecticut Association of Health Care Facilities said state officials erroneously listed Evergreen Health Center in Stafford, Touchpoints of Farmington, and Touchpoints of Bloomfield.

The three homes accounted for 330 of the 635 beds that state officials stated could be reserved for COVID-19 cases. Of the two remaining identified candidates, Sharon Health Care has 88 beds available, and Greenwich Woods Health Care Center in Greenwich has 217 beds.

“Regrettably, the published potential COVID-19 standalone nursing homes sites appear to have been prematurely announced in error,” said Matthew Barrett, president and CEO of the CACHF.

Coleman-Mitchell said the unfolding viral outbreak and state response are fluid.

“What we said yesterday could be very different as of today in regards to who is working with us to address those needs,” she said.

Max Reiss, chief spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont, said the development Thursday represented a momentary hitch.

“We may have been a little bit early regarding some of the specifics on which homes, but also in the grand scheme most of the plan is not going to change because time is off the essence here, and we need to make sure we are trying to save as many people and get as many people in a safe public health setting as fast as possible,” he said.

The contagion continued to spread as 267 more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday, plus 27 more deaths and 61 more hospitalizations.

The number of infected state residents increased 3,824 since the first positive result was reported on March 8. There 827 patients reported hospitalized, and the death toll reached 112.

To date, 18,300 tests for COVID-19 have been completed, including an additional 1,700 reported Thursday.

More than 80% of the deaths from COVID-19 involved people over age 70. Public health officials reported 29 patients in their 70s have died and 63 patients in the 80s and 90s.

The Naugatuck Valley Health District reported 26 confirmed cases in Naugatuck and 10 in Beacon Falls, according to figures released Thursday. The state reported eight cases in Prospect, which is under the jurisdiction of the Chesprocott Health District, on Thursday.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.