Governor Ned Lamont first approached the issue from a regional standpoint. Working with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, they carried out a uniform tri-state response: on March 16, businesses across the three states soon found themselves closed or faced with severe restrictions. Gatherings of citizens were also limited to under 50 people.
However, as late March rolled around with the daily rate of infection in Connecticut only increasing, further restrictions were instated. Beginning on March 23, Governor Lamont issued a stay-at-home order instructing non-essential workers, as deemed by the government, to commence working from home and placed more restrictions on businesses. As the United States rushed to “flatten the curve” in an attempt to ensure hospitals were not overwhelmed, social distancing quickly took the place of social gatherings.
So far, Connecticut's response to COVID-19 is receiving generally positive reviews from Hopkins students. Sara Kenyon ’23 states that in general, the state’s “response to this global pandemic has been surprisingly efficient and organized,” noting in particular the use of social distancing, which has “benefitted the general good.” Aaron Gruen ’21 adds, “We certainly have some strict orders, but they seem to be working - for now.”
With no new drastic changes, apart from the mandatory mask requirement, Connecticut citizens spent the last few months cooped up inside their homes, waiting for an announcement that the government is lifting some regulations.
Part of the urgency to reopen Connecticut comes from the effects the stay-at-home order is having on the economy. As Kenyon points out, “The economic effects have arguably been the most catastrophic.” She continues, “Many people have lost their jobs or stopped receiving income, and the consumption of regular commodities has been fluctuating in the extreme.” Jai Desai ’22 agrees, noting that “the most major effect of the stay-home order is the effect on the economy.” He explains, “having entered 2020 with a bullish market outlook, it quickly turned into a bear market and nearly erased all gains in the past three to four years.”
Now, as the statistics began to show a decrease in steepness, suggesting that Connecticut is, in fact, “flattening the curve,” reopening has become a hot topic. While Hopkins students may differ in their opinions on how exactly reopening should progress, one point remains the same: If not eased properly, Connecticut runs the risk of witnessing a second spike in the number of cases. In order to prevent a resurgence, some students believe regulations should stay put. Dhalia Brelsford ’23 states, “I think they should open up later than planned. Once they do open, though, I think it should be very slow and in phases.” Desai hopes for continued strict regulations: “I don't think restrictions can fully be lifted until there is a proven vaccine that cures COVID-19. Without such a vaccine, we risk having a relapse in cases, which we should try and avoid at all costs.” Other students are encouraged by the positive results. Kenyon believes “minor meetings should start happening as long as everyone is safe and careful.”
Phase one of Connecticut’s reopening commenced on May 20, marking the end of the stay-at-home order. Businesses with lower rates of potential transmission as well as those with significant impacts on the economy are among the first few allowed to open. Before reopening, however, businesses must first complete an online self-certification.
Once open, retail stores are allowed to operate at a 50% maximum capacity. With the ever-looming danger of COVID-19, the first priority of employers remains maintaining the safety of their employees, with employers being required to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for their employees, such as masks.
While life seems to be moving in the direction of normality, the effects of this pandemic are still being felt acutely, especially by members of high-risk groups, not to mention the mental toll this quarantine is taking on many. While Gruen describes feeling “more claustrophobic and antsy, some days more than others,” he adds that it helps to remember “how important staying home is to everyone’s safety.”