Life & Style
How to Stay Safe and Healthy During the COVID-19 Crisis
Members of the Connecticut National Guard are out delivering medical supplies, including personal protective equipment such as face masks and gowns, and respirators, to medical personnel. Still, supplies of personal protective equipment are low. Local police and fire departments are accepting donations, as is the state, of face masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and other items. (Photo courtesy of the State of Connecticut )
The current COVID-19 health crisis is creating an enormous amount of uncertainty and stress for families as they negotiate a constantly changing set of circumstances, with each change presenting new challenges when it comes to keeping loved ones safe and healthy. While medical professionals and government officials are learning more about the virus every day, about how it spreads, and best practices, a great deal of information has been released. Here is the information that was current at the March 22 press time for this section.
For general inquiries or to seek help of any kind, individuals can call 2-1-1, a program of the United Way, for more information. And, for the most updated information from the state, check ct.gov/coronavirus.com.
One thing that might be confusing about the virus is this: Some people get it and get very, very sick. Some of those people will have to be hospitalized, and some will die. Others can get the virus and have barely any symptoms, but those people can spread it easily to others. The goal of the state’s current Stay Home, Stay Safe policy is to keep those asymptomatic sick people from spreading it to others who then might be hospitalized. The worst case scenario is that the disease spreads so widely that it overburdens the state’s healthcare system, which is already straining to meet the demand created first by the flu season, and now this disease. As a precaution, take your temperature before going out. When you’re staying home, you’re not just keeping yourself safe, you’re potentially saving someone else’s life.
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont used the state’s CTAlert system on March 22 to explain his Stay Home, Stay Safe policy.
“Stay safe, stay home. I’m not ordering you to stay home, I’m strongly urging you to stay home to make sure that you and your neighbors are much less likely to be infected by the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. If you must head out to the grocery story, or pharmacy, pick up takeout from your favorite restaurant, that’s fine,” he said, adding that long walks outside are fine as well, as long as you stay at least six feet away from other people.
If you’re 70 or older, he said, “stay home. And for those of you who can work from home, that’s best, but first check with your boss.”
The state, several municipalities, and some healthcare organizations have put out a plea for any equipment or materials that people might have that can be used as personal protective equipment, including N95 face masks, gloves, and other items. There is a full list later in this story. Contact your local police department, fire department, or use the information below to donate these items.
Other organizations that need help are local food banks. While several are moving to serve customers with gift cards rather than food items, most towns also have shut-ins who need food picked up and delivered. Local food banks will need financial donations to help buy the gift cards, and they will need young volunteers to help them fulfill their very important mission of delivering food to people who cannot go out and get it for themselves. Contact your local food bank to find out more.
Also in this story is information from the state and from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to stay healthy, what to do if you have a sick family member, and how to avoid scams and bad actors who might want to take advantage of people during this crisis. There is also information on the utility shut-off moratorium, and information from the banking commissioner on why state banks can be considered safe.
If there is something you are wondering about and you think we can help you find the answer, email email@example.com and we’ll do our best to find out the answer, if it’s currently available during this swiftly changing situation.
How Individuals Can Stay Healthy
To keep your home safe, tell family members that all members of the household should follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
• Clean hands at the door and at regular intervals
• Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their face and cover coughs and sneezes
• Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and handrails regularly
• Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
If you have a sick family member:
• Give sick members their own room if possible, and keep the door closed
• Have only one family member care for them
• Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying conditions
How to Avoid Scams, Bad Actors
This information is from the State of Connecticut:
“During any crisis, bad actors and scam artists may try to take advantage of those trying to navigate the crisis. The state Department of Consumer Protection and the Office of the Attorney General have already received some complaints about this, and have issued warnings to consumers.”
These are areas those two offices are focusing on:
• Profiteering and Price Gouging: Price gouging is increasing the price of an item for sale at retail by more than what could be justified based on normal market fluctuations. During a civil preparedness emergency such as this one, it’s illegal.
• Canceled Trips: A number of consumers booked cruises, flights, amusement park visits, or trips through a school or organization that have now been canceled. Consumers should review their terms and conditions and contact the company or establishment they’ve worked with regarding refunds or credits. Those who have questions or issues, should contact the state at the numbers listed further down in this story.
• Unfair and Deceptive Advertising: The Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA) prohibits unfair competition and unfair and deceptive acts. During public health emergencies, scam artists may claim to be selling a miracle cure. Don’t believe those claims or purchase those products.
• Charity Scams: Consumers should not donate to any organization claiming to help those sick from the coronavirus unless they have done their research. Any charity soliciting in the State of Connecticut must be registered with DCP. Consumers can verify registrations at www.elicense.ct.gov.
• Investment Scams: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded “companies” can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.
• Imposter Scams: Look out for emails claiming to be the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO). If consumers are not already subscribed to receive emails from them, they won’t receive an unsolicited email.
• Phishing Attacks: Scammers may send emails and texts, and consumers may even see ads on social media designed to make them click on a link and give away their information. Consumers should never click on, or open any links that are suspicious, and never give any personal information to anyone they don’t know and trust.
Anyone who notices a marketplace issue or feels they have been the victim of a scam, should please contact the state. State Agency Contact Information:
• Connecticut Attorney General, File a Complaint: 860-808-5318, www.dir.ct.gov/ag/complaint
• Department of Consumer Protection, Complaint Forms and Procedures: 860-713-6300, portal.ct.gov/DCP/Complaint-Center/Complaint-Forms-and-Procedures
• Insurance Department, File a Complaint: 800-203-3447 or 860-297-3900, portal.ct.gov/CID/Consumer-Affairs/File-a-Complaint-or-Ask-a-Question
• The Insurance Department should be contacted about issues with travel insurance. portal.ct.gov/CID/Consumer-Affairs/File-a-Complaint-or-Ask-a-Question
• Federal Trade Commission: www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1
• Securities and Exchange Commission: www.sec.gov/oiea/Complaint.html
Utility Shut-Off Moratorium
Following a petition by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) has granted an emergency shut-off moratorium for the electric, natural gas, and water utilities it regulates in response to the coronavirus pandemic. PURA’s shut-off moratorium order applies only to residential customers.
On March 16, Attorney General Tong sent letters to the Regional Water Authority (RWA) urging the utilities to voluntarily comply with PURA’s shut-off moratorium.
The Regional Water Authority decided to cease all water shut-offs due to non-payment on March 12. RWA intends to keep this policy in place until April 30, at which point it will be revisited.
Attorney Tong also thanked Eversource, United Illuminating, Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas after being told the utilities will reconnect customers disconnected for nonpayment prior to the COVID-19 emergency moratorium.
Consumer Inquiries about this can be made to 860-808-5318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bank Safety in Connecticut
Connecticut Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez says he wanted to reassure Connecticut residents that their money is safe in banks and credit unions.
“While it is natural to worry about the safety of your money in uncertain times, the money Connecticut residents have in financial institutions will continue to be insured up to $250,000,” Perez says.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insures up to $250,000 per depositor per FDIC-insured bank. An FDIC-insured account is the safest place for consumers to keep their money.
Perez says some banks may have adjusted hours or services in compliance with Centers for Disease Control guidance on social distancing.
“Customers’ deposits remain safe in these banks, as does customer access to their funds,” he says. “Banks continue to offer ATM, mobile, or online banking services, and many continue to provide services via drive-through windows.”
Donations Needed of Personal Protective Equipment
Most towns and cities are seeking donations of personal protective equipment, along with healthcare organizations. They are wondering if some people might have supplies at home, or if companies or other organizations might have some, that they can donate. The State of Connecticut is seeking donations as well, so that they be distributed to health care workers and first responders.
“Donations of Personal Protective Equipment: The State of Connecticut has activated a framework for donations of PPEs. Members of the public, businesses, and philanthropic organizations that wish to donate these vital materials are asked to fill out the online form at 211ct.org/DonationsCOVID19.
United Way 2-1-1 of Connecticut will be working with the state to collect the input of donation requests and will ensure that donated items are appropriate for the needs of hospitals and long-term care facilities. The specific items being requested by the state at this time include:
• N95 Respirators
• Face Masks/Surgical Masks
• Face Shields
• Surgical Gowns
• Gloves (nitrile, or non-latex)
• Thermometer Covers
(if applicable to type of thermometer)
• Hand Sanitizer
• Other Medical Items