Connecticut officials coordinate coronavirus preparedness, prevention efforts in the state

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State lawmakers met in Hartford Friday to draw up an action plan for the Connecticut schools, hospitals and businesses amid the coronavirus spread.

The meeting was held hours before Gov. Lamont announced that an employee for both Danbury and Norwalk hospitals tested positive for the virus. The patient is a resident of New York.

Lamont says despite there being no confirmed cases in the state, it’s important to have fast and reliable testing available for residents.

“With testing we'll be able to tell those folks who are most at risk, we'll be able to make sure those folks who are most at risk to themselves and spreading the virus and they can self-quarantine, self-monitor, make sure they stay out of broad circulation that's how we’ll be able to contain this going forward,” Lamont said.

More: CDC Information about COVID-19

Starting Friday, residents who have questions about coronavirus can call 211 and get a connected to an expert.

Health officials say hospitals statewide are prepared and ready to treat the virus. They also said the state holds daily and weekly phone calls with the medical providers to make sure all are informed.

As the coronavirus continues to spread outside of Connecticut, more than 150 people in the area have been asked to self-quarantine and avoid contact with other people, going back as far as early February.

While the governor was speaking, top lawmakers were at the State Capitol discussing a coordinated "game plan" for coronavirus.

The plan calls for coordination from colleges, hospitals and prisons.

Three different legislative committees met Friday with the goal of expanding the state’s ability to test for coronavirus.

Right now, the state lab can only process about 12 patients a day. Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Renee Coleman-Mitchell said they're ramping up efforts.

"Testing capacity will be expanding greatly soon with the help of other labs from the private sector. We were informed yesterday afternoon that Quest Diagnostics is now on board. And as of Monday, they also will be providing testing," Coleman-Mitchell said.

And soon, hospitals will be able to process coronavirus tests without the state lab.

"We do have some PPE, personal protective equipment challenges. We will see some shortages, but we will certainly respond appropriately," said Mark Casey, of Trinity Health of New England.

Colleges are preparing as well. As of Friday, any University of Connecticut student or faculty traveling overseas must notify the school by filling out a special form. College health officials said they are ready.

"The infirmary includes a respiratory isolation room and all medical providers complete annual respiration FIT testing to be able to safely care for students with infectious diseases," said University of Connecticut Student Health Director Suzanne Onorato.

"We have a building all prepared with cots and it's been cleaned out. We would put them there until they either pass that quarantine period or until the doctor renders the decision that it's appropriate for them to come back into the community," said Dr. Elsa Nunez, of Eastern Connecticut State University

State health officials said coronavirus will probably look like a bad flu season and start to level off after a few months.

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News 12 will host a 30-minute call-in show Monday, March 9 at 7:00 p.m. where experts will answer your questions about the coronavirus. The show will be followed by a special Facebook Live Q&A.

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