The state continues to implement measures to help combat the growing threat of the new coronavirus.
MEALS FOR STUDENTS OUT OF SCHOOL
Starting Monday, more than half of Connecticut students won’t be in school. Thousands of those students rely on the Federal School Lunch and Breakfast Program for two meals a day. The State Department of Education is working with school districts and community organizations that worked on the summer meal program last year to continue the distribution of those meals.
The state petitioned the federal government to waive a requirement that schools must distribute meals from a non-school site. The waiver was approved, which allows schools and partner organizations to move forward with distribution at various sites.
UTILITY SHUTOFF CONCERNS
Connecticut officials have banned utilities from shutting off services to customers amid concerns about coronavirus.
The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority announced that it issued a ruling that directs all regulated electric, natural gas, and water companies in the state to cease residential service terminations for non-payment as a protective measure during the current public health emergency.
UNEMPLOYMENT AND FURLOUGH CONCERNS
The Department of Labor is suspending the federal RESEA work search program, which involves a requirement that recipients of unemployment to come in person to receive one-on-one help. The move is meant to reduce the need for in-person contact to encourage social distancing.
The state is also exercising the power to suspend work search requirements for unemployment benefits, and reminding furloughed employees that they are eligible at least six weeks of benefits.
HEALTH CARE SERVICES
The Department of Social Services is making changes to Medicaid and Husky Health Program to offer more services, specifically focusing on telemedicine services, including real-time video conferencing with health care providers for medical and behavioral health services. This will affect some 850,000 people enrolled.
State leaders said they are working with federal partners and hope to announce more benefits going forward.
SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
The state is also making changes to the Small Business Express Program, deferring loan payments for three months. Officials said that means an estimated $5 million in loans will be deferred and no interest will accrue during that time.
The state said they are also working on a broader package to help both businesses and individuals through the uncertainty and disruption.
Twelve people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Connecticut, and officials expect that number to rise.