With a reported 56% of Connecticut students out of classes due to closures related to Coronavirus precautions, state officials have announced that meals provided through the school lunch program will be available to those who need them.

In a news conference in a news briefing at the Connecticut Emergency Operations Center on Friday (March 13), state Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe spoke along side public health officials to announce that the Department of Education has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which opens up the option for students to get the aforementioned meals despite their schools being closed.

The way the meals will be distributed is very similar to how the summer lunch program operates in that the student, and other children in the household under the age of 18, can all receive the meals, as long as they are picked up by and adult they live with. Only one student within a household must be present at pick-up time, but meals for every child living in the home can be provided.

Officials say that these measures will assist with the state's current initiatives to instill social distancing measures throughout the state.

Commissioner of the Department of Education Miguel Cardona said at the news conference that as of this coming Monday (March 16), 30% of Connecticut schools will be closed, and that those schools are comprised of about 56% of the state's enrolled students.

The locations of the meal pick-up points have yet to be announced, but we'll be sure to keep you updated as more of that information becomes available.

As the most current data indicates, 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.

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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.