Apr 29, 2020
Governor Ned Lamont COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript April 29
Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut held a press conference on COVID-19 on April 29. Read the full transcript here.
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Governor Ned Lamont: (01:05:10)
Good afternoon everybody. I’m back with Paul and Josh, and they’re two special guests I’ll introduce just in a minute. Very quickly, I’ll just go over briefly the numbers before I introduce you to my friend Rudy Marconi. Just going to go with the first page of this today, the daily summary. Again, it shows a positive trend that we have seen now for over a week, and that means hospitalizations continues to go down, and that the positive cases are 455, nothing positive about that number, by the way, except that it is a smaller percentage of the number of tests performed. So I think this is all relatively good news in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish. And with that, I’d just like to introduce to you my great friend that Rudy Marconi. In the meantime, you can look at the other graphs which are sort of similar to what you saw before.
Governor Ned Lamont: (01:06:06)
Rudy as you know is our first selectman for life, we all like to hope there in Ridgefield, does an amazing job there. Have been a good friend of mine for a while. He got hit, and hit hard by the covert virus some days ago. And I just wanted him to tell a little bit about his story and what we can learn from it as the rest of the state tries to figure out how fast we get back to work. “Hey, these social distancing laws are getting kind of tiresome for me.” Rudy, tell us what you’ve learned. It was quite an ordeal.
Rudy Marconi: (01:06:39)
Sure Governor. Thank you for having me here today, and I want everyone to understand that the reason for me telling my story is not of looking or searching for any kind of petty or understanding, but more understanding the virus itself and the devastating consequences that it can have especially from a health perspective. And I know we’re all looking at the economic side of things, and as a capitalistic society, we want to get back to work, we want money to flow again, but I can’t stress enough the importance of how this can impact the health of all of our citizens here in Connecticut.
Rudy Marconi: (01:07:18)
Back on April 4th I came home from a board of selectmen meeting, feeling somewhat down and had a head cold. And now at that point I went to bed, stayed in bed Thursday and Friday, and Saturday I was tested, and in April, 6th, that Monday, got the positive results. By Wednesday the eighth I was pretty far down the road into this virus and working with several doctors here in our community. My PCP, a primary care physician, recommended at that point that I get on oxygen rather than go to the hospital, I was on oxygen for eight straight days, 24/7, being on the Hydrochloricquinn and Zithromycin combination with Tylenol and vitamins, and I can’t begin to name everything.
Rudy Marconi: (01:08:15)
The most amazing drug for me ended up being Zofran, which helps reduce the feeling of nausea, which was perhaps my most difficult symptom to deal with. And I can’t tell you how severe I felt from laying on the floor and having difficulty in the evenings to finally being here today to tell that story. More importantly, for everyone to understand that, and as I said, and at the risk of being repetitious, that we can open too soon. Please believe me. This is a highly contagious, serious virus that we need to be careful each step we take. As the governor just said, our cases continue to increase, the number of deaths continue to increase, although hopefully slowing. Just here in my own little town of Ridgefield, we’ve lost 30 people. We’re approaching 160 cases, and it continues to be a problem, and there are contagious people. And until we can get testing going and we’re working at that from every corner imaginable, to be able to control the statistics and have a better understanding, half our people feel more comfortable in society, until we can get to that point, let’s work together, continue to social distance, continue to wear the face coverings and not pressure people to open. That can be perhaps the worst single thing we could do right now. Let’s do it once, do it right, and listen to the governor please. He has us on the right track. Thank you governor.
Governor Ned Lamont: (01:09:58)
Well thank you Rudy, and we’re cheering you on every day, and you’re looking good man. That is a message that we’re getting a little cabin fever. I understand the stay at home is getting a little tiresome, but when you hear a positive case of COVID, I want you to think of the human side of this and how it hits people and hit some hard. And Rudy’s here to answer any questions you may have.
Governor Ned Lamont: (01:10:24)
With that, let me just introduce to you Susan Bysiewicz who needs no introduction, our amazing Lieutenant Governor. As you maybe know, she’s been taking the lead in terms of making sure that our census does an accurate count. She’s done an extraordinary job. I think that we have the highest percentage of people who have responded to the census, 57% she told me, compared to any of our New England States. And that’s not unimportant, because the more people we have registered in that census, what that means in terms of revenues coming back to the state of Connecticut, and what that means in terms of congressional seats.
Governor Ned Lamont: (01:11:01)
So I thank her for what she’s done there, and given that experience, given her incredible understanding of all of our local communities here in the state of Connecticut, she’s going to be heading up our longterm recovery committee. As we slowly get on the backside of this pandemic, you heard from Rudy, there are a lot of folks who are hit and hit hard. There are a lot of seniors who maybe are quarantining. There are a lot of folks who have a perhaps some distress and anguish and mental health issues, and we’re trying to put together committees in each of our local communities to look out for those people. And that may mean folks from education, not for profit, the religious community as well as the political communities. And I can’t think of a better person to lead that effort than Susan Bysiewicz. Susan.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz: (01:11:50)
Governor, thank you so much, and I’m very happy to tell you that as of 3:00 this afternoon, the state of Connecticut had a 57.1% self response rate. So we continue to lead all of the Northeastern States and we’ve been recognized for our efforts by the United States Census Bureau. And one of the reasons that we have such a high response rate is we have local complete count committees in almost every community across the state. There are 156 registered complete count committees. Rudy Marconi has one in Ridgefield, and most mayors and first selectman do.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz: (01:12:39)
The reason I mentioned this governor is that it has proved to be an incredibly effective model for engaging community partners in the census effort in order to have a successful economic recovery after this catastrophe that is COVID- 19. It’s been a catastrophe for our public health and it’s been an economic calamity. We are going to need to rebuild at the local level.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz: (01:13:12)
So today at 2:00, I launched, with the help of the council of small towns, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Connecticut Conference of Governments, and other partners, the Long Term Recovery Committees. And with the help of these municipal organizations, what we’re going to do is we’re going to ask each community in our state to choose a coordinator. And we’re going to ask our municipal leaders to identify someone to be that coordinator of the recovery effort in their town or city. And that person will, with the help of their municipal leaders, come up with a group of community partners. And those community partners will include businesses, it will include philanthropic groups, it will include community groups, and these committees will be diverse. They will represent different segments of the community.
Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz: (01:14:27)
Diversity has been really important and community engagement has been really important in the census process, and many community leaders have already started very vibrant census committees. And these could be models for how these longterm [inaudible 00:24:44]. And so we are really excited to help the communities, each community leader, put together faith based groups, philanthropy, businesses and other.
… Based groups, philanthropy, businesses and other community organizations that understand the community needs. And those groups will work with our state longterm recovery partners, their legislators, and our federal partners to maximize funding, to make sure that community needs are met and to recognize what the local conditions are. Because what we know about our state is that each part of our beautiful state is different. Eastern Connecticut is different from Lichfield County is different from some of our urban areas, and we think this is going to be a very effective way to bring our economy back on the other side of this and to bring it back in a very strong and effective and inclusive way. And we’ve seen the success with our local complete count committees with the census, but we’ve also seen that this approach has been very effective during the 2012 recovery efforts after Sandy and Maria.
So, happy to take any questions and just want to say thank you to our municipal partners. And governor, it’s been your collaborative leadership that has served as the way [inaudible 01:16:30] working with governors from our area and we’ve also been working in a very collaborative way with our civil leaders. In fact, you are I will be on a call with them, our weekly call at five o’clock. So, we really view this as extension of the collaboration that we’ve been doing from the start of this crisis, from the start of our term actually, and over the past year with the census. So, governor, thank you so much for the opportunity to help.
Ned Lamont: (01:17:00)
All right, thank you Susan. Thank you, Rudy. I had mentioned yesterday that we might have representative Jane Garibay on as well and perhaps she’ll call in. I thought she’d be a very interesting participant because she’s got a political perspective. She was afflicted with COVID and she runs the chamber of commerce. So, if anybody had a pretty good perspective on balancing COVID opening and business, she would and maybe she’ll be calling in a little bit later, but short of that, Max, let’s see if we have any questions.
Speaker 16: (01:17:36)
Rudy Marconi, explain to us just as Rudy, when you first get the call, you test positive. What’s going through your mind? Take us through the emotional. You are in the wheelhouse for the virus age wise, so I don’t know what were you thinking? How did you quarantine and did anybody else catch it?
Speaker 16: (01:18:07)
Rudy Marconi: (01:18:07)
Okay. I’m here now. Can you hear me now?
Speaker 16: (01:18:12)
I can hear you.
Rudy Marconi: (01:18:13)
Yeah. To answer your question, that was April 6th when the local health director called me to say I was on the list released by Denbury Hospital and it was a mixed feeling. Not sure what to anticipate. Hadn’t really looked at anyone who had gone through the symptoms and suffered through the aches, chills, pains, sore throat, headache, nausea, diarrhea, you name it. Any symptom you’ve ever had in your lifetime hit you all at once. At least in my case it did, and it was pretty alarming for me. Scared at times, my wife was frightened, was in constant communication with doctors, worried that I was disconnected, she was losing me. Calling the hospitals, seeing if they could transport me to our local EMS services, but fortunately I was able to stick it out here at home and come through it.
Rudy Marconi: (01:19:13)
It it a very sobering impact that can have on you and the reality of life and how precious life is and that’s why I cannot stress enough, and the governor’s leadership here, to let’s practice the social distancing, the face covering. Let’s get our numbers to where we need them and let’s be sure we can control this because, God forbid, I don’t want anyone I know to have to go through what I did.
Speaker 16: (01:19:40)
Did your wife catch it? How did you quarantine with your wife?
Rudy Marconi: (01:19:45)
Yes, she did. Although we practiced the isolation, there were times when she had to come in and check on me. Very concerned of catching it. She did have two days with a very low grade fever, addressed it with Tylenol and has been great ever since then but will be tested as well with me on Friday for hopefully what is a negative test?
Ned Lamont: (01:20:08)
Good afternoon, everyone. Governor, is there any way to tell right now who is getting infected right now? Who is being hospitalized at this point? Can you tell from the data if it’s medical workers, relatives of people like Mr. Marconi’s wife or nursing home residents? What does the picture look like? Can you tell at this point?
Ned Lamont: (01:20:38)
I think the picture is disparate. Obviously, we know early on what the geographic dispersion was. Lower Fairfield County coming up New Rochelle and New York city, that was very clear. Now, we know that we’re in certain neighborhoods that are more densely packed. Bridgeport, Hartford in particular, where see the infection rate and the hospitalization rate of going up the fastest. And when it comes to testing, we’re going to be prioritizing those communities because those are the communities where you can have another flare up with the most risk to communities. Anything else on that, Josh?
I guess no. Okay. Governor also, is the state planning at all to help shield businesses for any liability if they reopen and their workers get sick? And also, is there any plan to ban unemployment benefits for a worker who voluntarily decides not to return to the job because they’re afraid for their safety, or maybe on the flip side, maybe there are protections for workers who are afraid to go back to work?
Ned Lamont: (01:21:48)
Yeah. First on the liability issue… By the way, I was very happy to see Senator McConnell walk back the bankruptcy statement and he says he is going to be looking at some support for state and localities. That’s really important but he did couple that with the possibility of some liability reform for business. I got to think about that. Every small business wants to do everything they can, I know that, to keep their place of employment safe as can be. It’s the right thing to do and a matter of your reputation. If you’re going to get customers to come back to your restaurant, to your facility, your salon, you’re going to bend over backwards to do that. The legal liability on that, I’ve got to think about a little bit more in terms of this is a virus that we don’t know everything about, so there’s a lot of risk on both sides of the aisle about how you structure that. In terms of people coming back to work, Sue, my instinct is we have safe workplace rules, we have safe store rules and if they maintain those safe store rules then I think you should go back. Unless you’re at a non-essential category, I think otherwise, people are paying you for that employment and it gets pretty complicated. But we’ll try and work that out case by case because some situations may not be safe.
Thank you very much.
News 12 Connecticut.
CT News Junkie.
Thanks, Max. So, I wanted to know, everyone seems to want to speed ahead and talk about testing and making sure everyone gets tested, but unless there’s enough PPE, where do we stand on PPE and has the state received the shipment that was stuck in China?
Ned Lamont: (01:23:49)
You want that one?
Speaker 17: (01:23:52)
We’ve had many shipments stuck in China. The good news though, Christine, is that a lot of them have arrived. We’ve had a very good week, really week and a half now, on PPE. Our mask supply is in very good shape. We’ve got over three and a half million surgical masks and hundreds of thousands of N95s and KN95s. Gloves, millions of gloves. So, we’ve had a good few weeks. For whatever reason, gowns seem to still be a challenge where we’ve got a shipment in today. And then, it’s not PPE, but the other commodity that we’re still really struggling with and I know other states are as well as the nasal swabs, which are such a key element of getting the testing numbers up and continue to be constrained.
And regarding the contact tracing, I’m reading that in other states the contact tracers who are not with the local health departments are being paid. Is Connecticut’s effort an all volunteer effort, and is that sustainable?
Speaker 17: (01:24:51)
Yeah, as we discussed yesterday, we’ve got about 300 people who are paid. There are local health department workers and state health department workers who will be assisting this, and then we’re looking to recruit a team of about 400 to 500 volunteers. We’re blessed in this state with a number of universities with very strong public health departments and students who are eager to get involved and have relevant training. So, we’re going to start with them and then that’ll get us to our May 20th date with great resources. And then, if we still need more, we can reevaluate at that time.
And will the nursing home data be coming out later today, and will that data also include assisted living facilities?
Speaker 17: (01:25:30)
Nice try. So, we always promise that data on Thursdays, so hopefully-
Oh, Thursdays. Okay.
Speaker 17: (01:25:36)
I know the days blend together at this point, but we’re targeting that for tomorrow. The assisted living data, we are scrambling to try to get some data out tomorrow on that. It’s our first time through so we’re working out the bugs but we hope to have something out tomorrow.
And the inspections are continuing?
Speaker 17: (01:25:51)
Yeah. Up to 242 inspections of nursing homes and assisted living facilities that will be completed by the end of the day today.
Ned Lamont: (01:26:04)
Why don’t we take just a short breather here because I’m told that Jane Garibay just joined us by phone and Jane if you can hear us, Rudy Marconi told his story. First [inaudible 01:26:16] of Richfield badly afflicted a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned that you have a political perspective, you were afflicted by COVID and also Chamber of Commerce might have an interesting perspective going forward about how we should be proceeding.
Jane Garibay: (01:26:31)
Thank you, governor, for having me today and I’m sorry for those tech… I don’t know. Hello?
Ned Lamont: (01:26:41)
Yeah, we’re right here.
Speaker 17: (01:26:42)
We can hear you.
Jane Garibay: (01:26:43)
Oh, sorry about that. Yeah. So, thank you for having and I also want to tell you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done to help keep us all here in the state. Yeah, I was diagnosed on March 18th. I think I was number two in the town of Windsor and I will say that it was two and a half weeks of having the flu and it was very difficult. Some people think it’s just the regular flu, it affects each person differently. The symptoms are different. My sister was diagnosed the day before I, we went through it together. I started with a sore throat, I had aches, my temperature at one point peaked at 103.5 and I did a six hour visit to St. Francis.
Jane Garibay: (01:27:39)
The one thing that I find a lot of people have, which I had also, I couldn’t eat for 13 days. Nothing tasted good. It was like cardboard, but I came out fine and I have some of the risk factors and I’m just happy that it all went well for me. And I had good physicians and good followup and et cetera, and we were able to keep my husband and my niece Jenny, who has Down’s and lives with us, safe and they have not been affected by the virus. And it’s so easy just to wear a mask, it’s an easy thing and you’re protecting others and the social distancing and I know we’re Googling or Skyping every Sunday as a family together and finding ways to keep connected. And reaching out to people and helping your neighbor, if you still have your job, reaching out and helping with the virus because I had a lot of support and it was very difficult.
Ned Lamont: (01:28:48)
Thank you so much, Jane, and we’re just taking some questions from the press now and Jane is on the line if you have any questions for her as well. Appreciate you being on the line, jane, and we’re cheering you on every day.
Jane Garibay: (01:29:02)
Thank you, governor.
CT En Vivo.
Thank you, Max. Good afternoon, everyone. This is Oscar with CT En Vivo. I just have a question for Rudy. Just have a question in regards to the service and the treatment that you received in the hospital. How can you describe the environment in the hospital where you received that treatment?
Rudy Marconi: (01:29:24)
Yes, as I may have stated, I went to the hospital one day for a checkup, but I was never admitted. What I was saying is that my personal physician here wanted to keep me out of the hospital and as long as I had the personal attention of my wife to urge me to get up and walk on a regular basis, not to stay in bed, and that’s perhaps the biggest thing is you don’t want to get out bed. You’re exhausted, your energy is zero, you don’t want to move. And to get up and walk around, which is vitally important because of the clotting factor, is something that she had me doing on a regular basis as well as the breathing exercises. And with all due respect to the hospitals, sometime due to the busy-ness, the amount of work going on there and the various patients, the nurses don’t have the time to get you to do those very important things. So, I stayed at home and as I said, I was on oxygen for eight days, 24/7 and with the exercise I was able to make it through. So, thank you for the question.
Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Marconi. Mr. governor, I have a question in regards to documented people here in the state of Connecticut. There are some organizations putting some efforts together to help those immigrants. I know some of them are being treated because they’re diagnosed with coronavirus, but some of them, that’s the only thing they have. They don’t have money to pay the rent. Is there anything new about that? Are you responding to those organizations? And how the state is helping the undocumented community here in the state?
Ned Lamont: (01:31:08)
Yeah. I think Lisa Tepper Bates is going to roll out some additional initiatives we can do to help everybody, including the undocumented. I’m glad you pointed out, Oscar, that regardless of your documentation, you’re welcome at the hospital. We’ll take care of you, we’ll provide the testing at no charge, we’ll provide the treatment at no charge. That’s important for everybody to understand how important that is. As we’ve said before, given some of the executive orders we’ve had, everybody, whether they can pay their rent or not, we urge everybody if you can pay your rent, pay your rent. But nobody is going to be evicted and we are providing food and other support systems for people around the state, including the undocumented.
All right, thank you. My next question is for Lieutenant Susan Bysiewicz. I just have a question on regards to the census, what else are you doing to bring the Latinos to participate on the census? Some of them don’t speak English or some of them live in fear to participate on the census. So, what efforts are you putting together to support this community, and at the same time they support a census?
Yes. So, here is what we’re doing, Oscar. Each of the 156 complete account committees have people that are important in their communities and we know the Latino community is strong and very vibrant here. And we’ve had a particular effort in the hard to count areas because 22% of our population is in hard to count areas. So, those places include Bridgewood, [inaudible 00:18:11], New London, Bristol and other urban areas. So, even holding virtual town halls with our census partners in those hard to count areas. We have a summit in New Haven early in the spring with latino leaders from all over the state to go over best practices, and we are getting the word out in English and Spanish. We just released two videos on Friday, one in English and one in Spanish, and we talk about how important the census is for disaster relief. All the social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid, [inaudible 01:33:54] in English and Spanish.
And we have hired a firm called Camillo Communications, that is a Latino advertising firm, and we are targeting through social media our latino communities across the state. And looking forward to pushing that message out through social media, and we are working closely with our latino caucus in the state legislature. I just met with them on Saturday to update them on the importance of the census and people should know that they can fill out the census in 100 languages if they go online, and there are 12 languages spoken on the 800 number if you would like to fill out your census over the phone. So, we have a very robust census operation going right now, and that’s why [inaudible 01:35:01] New England region. Having said that, [inaudible 01:35:06] percent of our households have filled it out, but we’ve got to convince the remaining households and that’s why we’ve engaged our legislators, our municipal leaders and our census partners in the 156 complete account committees across the state to get this important message out.
Move along next to Hearst Connecticut Media.
Ken Dixon: (01:35:31)
Hey, Max. It’s Ken Dixon, thanks to Jane and Rudy for coming on and talking to us. I’d be interested in knowing what contact tracing you might’ve been engaged in, first Rudy then Jane, after you were determined as COVID positive. Were health department people asking you who you had had contact with during X number of days?
Rudy Marconi: (01:36:02)
Yes, Ken. Being in town hall, I had really restricted my travel from home to my office at town hall for, I guess, the previous two weeks, so my exposure to people was extremely limited, which gives you an idea of the high concern about this virus. But I can tell you that no one, and I contacted everyone through our human resources department in town hall, contacted everyone and no one subsequently got ill. So, it’s a strange virus. I don’t understand it and I don’t know many people who do, professionals or otherwise. But yeah, contact tracing we did do immediately to let as many people know as I possibly could.
Ken Dixon: (01:36:58)
Jane Garibay: (01:36:59)
Yes, so I went to be tested five days after being at the capital. So, I did receive a call from CDC and we checked the timelines, et cetera, and no one else in my house that we know of has gotten us. So, that was good. And we had self quarantine already, trying not to bring it into the house and I’d gone to three places, so all those people… So, the Windsor Health Department did call me and they called me almost every day or every other day.