Connecticut to Prevent Utility Service Shut-Offs Amidst COVID-19 Concerns
Amid efforts to lessen the impact on residents as a result of the Coronavirus, Connecticut officials have ordered that local utility companies refrain from shutting down service to customers.
As announced in a public news briefing Friday afternoon (March 13), State Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe announced that the moratorium has been put into place by the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to ensure that gas, electric, and water public services won't be shut off, even for residents who are delinquent on payment, for a 30-day period. This, according to officials, will allow residents to remain safe within their homes as we battle the spread of COVID-19.
The moratorium is in direct response to a petition that was filed on Thursday (March 12) by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, seeking to cease all utility service terminations for the aforementioned 30 day period.
In an official statement on Friday, the Attorney General thanked the commissioners and staff and PURA for their swift response saying, “I want to thank the commissioners and staff at PURA who worked quickly to provide this important relief to Connecticut families. People need electricity, heat and water to stay home safely right now.”
This news follows the announcement that as of this writing, there are 11 confirmed cases of Coronavirus throughout Connecticut, with eight being in Fairfield County and three in Litchfield County. Between the State of Connecticut's public health lab and commercial testing facilities such as LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, a total of 136 Connecticut residents have been tested for COVID-19.
According to the Department of Public Health, the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 is considered low for people who had contact with an individual who does not have COVID-19 and does not have symptoms. In other words, a contact of a contact is considered low risk.
Any resident that is not currently showing symptoms of the virus (two or three days of fever, cough, and shortness of breath) can dial 211 at any time with any basic questions.
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The Governor's Office has also provided residents with some important messages to keep in mind:
- People without symptoms should not be tested for COVID-19. Testing individuals with no symptoms is not recommended by CDC.
- If you were with someone who does not have symptoms, the risk of transmission is very low.
- There are many respiratory illnesses circulating in Connecticut, such as the flu and the common cold. Having respiratory symptoms does not mean that you have COVID-19.
- People are at higher risk for COVID-19 if they have symptoms of the virus (cough, fever, shortness of breath) AND if they were a contact of a positive case of COVID-19 (or have traveled to country with community transmission, such as China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Japan).
- Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.
- People who think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider. These people should not go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).
- People with general questions about COVID-19 can visit ct.gov/coronavirus or call 2-1-1.
- Everyone can help stop the spread of viruses in Connecticut.
- Get your flu shot, and make sure the people around you do the same.
- Wash your hands often throughout the day. Use warm water and soap. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Viruses can spread by coughing or sneezing on other people or into your hands.
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
- Keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant.