Gov. Ned Lamont declared both a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency March 10, giving him broad powers to manage the state's coronavirus response.
The declaration gives the governor broad powers over state institutions, allowing him to restrict travel, close public schools and buildings, and issue quarantine orders.
New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts have also declared states of emergency.
"We don’t do this lightly," Lamont said. "We've got to be prepared for what is happening."
"We're ready to ramp up our testing capacity in a dramatic way. The only way that we can get that done statewide is if I have the opportunity and the ability to speed up some of the public health regulations."
The declaration may allow some businesses and consumers with travel impacted by the outbreak to benefit from travel insurance and related coverage.
The Connecticut Insurance Department is notifying insurers that, based on Lamont's declaration, it will be monitoring their compliance with the terms of their policies.
"As coverage will depend on the terms of each policy, consumers are encouraged to read them carefully," Lamont said in a release.
Lamont's declaration also triggers state laws that prevent price gouging during public emergencies like the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
"Violations are considered an unfair or deceptive practice and violators may be subject to fines or other action," Lamont said.
Attorney General William Tong has said he's already received complaints of price gouging on hand sanitizer and surgical masks.
Under the declaration, Lamont by executive order can ban travel, and close schools, public facilities, and private businesses.
Lamont has advised against holding gatherings of 100 or more people.
The declaration also establishes a legislative Public Health Emergency Committee of House and Senate leaders.
The committee met March 11 and declined to veto Lamont's declaration, which will remain in effect through Sept. 9 unless the governor revokes or extends it.
Lamont also said his administration is working with health insurance carriers to cover the cost of coronavirus testing and will uphold a state law that provides access to maintenance prescription drug medications, except for controlled substances.
The law gives pharmacists discretion to refill a 90-day prescription under certain circumstances, even if the original prescription was for fewer days.
Health insurance carriers must cover the refill without additional co-insurance, deductible, or other out-of-pocket expense from the patient.
Patients must still pay the usual coinsurance, deductible, or other out-of-pocket expense associated with the 90-day refill.
Lamont advised patients who rely on maintenance drugs for chronic or long-term conditions to contact their pharmacist to discuss acquiring these refills, or speak with their insurer about getting refills by mail.
Several health insurance carriers, including Aetna, ConnectiCare, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Health, and Cigna, have agreed to waive patient out-of-pocket costs for the coronavirus test.
"We stand ready to help our customers who are concerned about COVID-19," ConnectiCare president Eric Galvin said.
"Cigna will cover the full cost of COVID-19 testing for our customers when it’s prescribed by a health practitioner," said Wendy Sherry, president of Cigna's Connecticut market.
The emergency declaration also:
- Provides the administration with certain legal authority to take specific, swift action to protect public safety and health.
- Allows the administration to temporarily modify or suspend any state law or regulation to protect public safety and health. Lamont is compiling a list of laws and regulations from state agencies.
- Delegates decisions on large gatherings to local officials.
- Gives mayors and first selectmen the authority to take action they deem necessary to address disasters and emergencies.