Governors plan COVID policy for college students returning home

Weekend discussions among the region’s governors focused on a possible uniform policy requiring college students going home for the holidays to get COVID tests before and after their returns, Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

The governor, self-quarantining at his home in Greenwich after he and his staff’s potential exposure to the virus, said the raging virus demands a regional response.

“We met with all the governors via Zoom (Sunday), in our region, and talking about what are the metrics, how do we track them and what our priorities are,” Lamont said on WTIC radio. “The first priority was universities coming back and make sure — we’re going to declare loudly today — university students coming back safely from the University of South Dakota, you make sure you get tested before you get on that plane, you get tested when you land, and you quarantine until we get that result for you.”

Other talks centered on the various states’ travel advisories, as infection rates soar around the nation.

“We talked a lot about schools, though,” Lamont said. “One thing we don’t want to do is go back to shutting down schools, especially K through 8. We’re finding in Europe that the schools are open and that’s not a source of infection, at least not yet.”

In other pandemic developments on Monday, Lamont requested authorization from President Donald Trump to extend Connecticut National Guard support in the pandemic through next June 31, plus a 100-percent federal cost share for expenses. About 1,000 National Guard troops and members of the State Militia have helped set up field hospital, nursing home inspections, testing kit operations and the pickup and delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE).

The state had been authorized for 100-percent federal support from April 2 through September. Under current guidelines, which started Oct. 1 and are scheduled through the end of the calendar year, the federal government is paying for 75 percent of guard costs, leaving the state with an estimated $2.5-million price tag.

“Between constructing mobile field hospitals, delivering PPE, supporting the needs of nursing homes, and assisting the operations of testing sites, the Connecticut National Guard has been a critical component of our state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lamont said in a statement. “And it must also be noted that the Guard’s support goes beyond assistance to state government - this authorization means it can provide assistance to our towns, cities, and health care providers to help protect our communities.”