The state of Connecticut has so far built up a stockpile of personal protective equipment that can last about 60 or 70 days, with plans to eventually have enough for 90 days in case there is a second wave of the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday.
While it's the responsibility of nursing homes and businesses to secure their own PPE, the state has been a “backstop” for those entities during the pandemic. Lamont noted how the state “did a lot of backstopping” over the past few months and is now trying to replenish its stock of gloves, masks, gowns and other protective equipment.
“We are now building up our stockpile again,” Lamont said, during an event in Hartford. “As you know, it's getting a little competitive out there, given what's going on in the other states.”
Last week, Josh Geballe, Lamont's chief operating officer, told The Associated Press the state has been able to secure new orders with key suppliers that were reliable during the past several months.
“We have not heard from our suppliers that the surges in other parts of the country have directly impacted our supply chain yet; however, recognizing the fact that those states will be seeking additional large quantities of PPE, it could play a factor down the road,” Geballe said in an email. “We have aggressively negotiated our needs to ensure we continue to have the product we need.”
Geballe said he's optimistic Connecticut will have a 90-day supply of PPE in place by the end of July.
“We have commitments from suppliers who are directly working with key factories in China and we also have other suppliers who have product on the ground in the USA,” he said. “We have also leveraged our needs for certain products through a local Connecticut manufacturer.”
Also on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal reiterated his call for Congress to approve $20 billion in emergency funding for long-term care facilities so they can cover the cost of PPE, testing and other needs. Blumenthal has co-sponsored legislation, the Nursing Home COVID-19 Protection and Prevention Act, with fellow Senate Democrats.
“The federal government has failed our elderly population and $20 billion is a down payment on what we owe them and these facilities," he said during a news conference in front of the Riverside Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Hartford. There continue to be complaints from some nursing home workers about a lack of sufficient PPE.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or lead to death.
In other coronavirus news in Connecticut:
FIVE NEW DEATHS
A day after Connecticut reported no new deaths associated with COVID-19, five more people have died. As of Wednesday afternoon, there have been a total of 4,343 deaths in the state. Meanwhile, the number of hospitalizations grew slightly by five, for a total of 88 patients. There have been more than 47,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a figure that grew by 75 since Tuesday.
It had been since mid-March when Connecticut did not have any COVID-related deaths to report.
All campgrounds in Connecticut's state parks and forests have fully opened for the 2020 season as of Wednesday, including to tent campers. Previously, beginning July 1, only campers with existing reservations and self-contained RVs with restrooms and water were allowed. To help maintain social distancing, all campers will be required to make reservations in advance of their stay and no walk-in campers will be permitted this season.