All New Haven public schools will be closed indefinitely starting Friday, March 13 due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus and Mayor Justin Elicker said that families should prepare for children to be out of school for an extended period of time.
The schools are closing "due to the growing risk of exposure due to the COVID-19 virus."
"The rapid spread of COVID-19 clearly merits this decision," Elicker said during a news conference on Thursday. "We've learned from observing the impacts of the virus on our brothers and sisters in China, in Italy, in Washington State, in New York, and in many other places around the globe, that a proactive response is crucial to limiting community spread of the disease."
The city is also closing senior centers indefinitely as of Friday and more closures are possible.
"Expertise from our health department and local epidemiologists have led us to the decision that social isolation at this point is the most important thing to do to ensure that we slow the exposure of the virus and we do not overwhelm our healthcare system," Elicker said.
The mayor said that the rapid spread of coronavirus, COVID-19 prompted the decisions, which will have a significant impact on families.
The mayor said they are working on a plan to ensure that children who are reliant on free and reduced cost school breakfast and lunch have continued access to food.
He said he understands that many families do not have the opportunity to take off time from work for extended periods of time and will be working with "state and federal partners" with the goal of providing protections for families that will struggle to "balance their own employment and care for their children."
He is also asking employers to support employees with flexible paid family medical leave policies.
The key symptoms of the coronavirus, according to the CDC are:
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms can appear in infected persons two to 14 days after exposure.
Coronavirus Prevention Steps
Steps for prevention from the CDC include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
- You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
- Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, such as to the grocery store
- Coverings should not be placed on children under 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- The face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected
- Do NOT use a facemask meant for a health care worker
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Steps to Self-Monitor for Coronavirus
Steps to self-monitor from the CDC include:
- Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
- Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
- Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
- Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).
If you do get sick with a fever, cough or have trouble breathing, call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room and communicate with your doctor about your recent travel.
- If you develop symptoms, stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Discuss your work situation with your employer before returning to work.
The CDC has a special website set up with details about the coronavirus, including how it spreads and treatment.
Anyone with questions relating to coronavirus can call 2-1-1 or text "CTCOVID" to 898211. The 2-1-1 hotline is available 24 hours a day.
You can also visit the state's coronavirus information website here. Residents are encouraged to check the website for answers to questions before calling the hotline.