Hobby Lobby Temporarily Closes All Stores

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Apr 032020

While Jo-Ann, Michael’s, Christmas Tree Shops and other “fun” stores closed their stores to regular shoppers (Jo-Ann offering online purchasing and curbside pick-up for the most part), Hobby Lobby maintained that it was an “essential” business to some shoppers’ delight and many others’ criticism.

Today, the company sent out this press release stating that they were going to comply with the nation’s experts’ recommendations to close all non-essential businesses in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Here’s what they stated:

As the country continues efforts to manage and mitigate the devastating health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus, Hobby Lobby will, after careful consideration, close the remainder of its stores, and furlough nearly all store employees and a large portion of corporate and distribution employees, effective Friday, April 3rd, at 8:00 p.m.  The stores will remain closed until further notice.

In order to allow our furloughed employees to take full advantage of the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Recovery Rebates provided to eligible employees by the federal government, we are ending emergency leave pay and suspending the use of Company provided paid time off benefits (PPTO and Vacation) in accordance with the requirements outlined in the CARES Act (subject to State law requirements).  However, we will maintain medical, dental, life, and long-term disability benefits for employees while furloughed through at least May 1, 2020, and will pay the cost of employee premiums for these benefits on behalf of employees while furloughed without pay.  We encourage furloughed employees to file their claims with their State’s unemployment commissions as soon as possible.  Upon return, employees will retain their original dates of hire and any accrued PPTO and Vacation.  Our sincere gratitude goes out to our dedicated employees at this difficult time, and we look forward to the day when we can welcome them back, once we are able to reopen.

We know our customers relied on us to provide essential products, including materials to make personal protective equipment, such as face masks, educational supplies for the countless parents who are now educating their children from home, and the thousands of small arts and crafts businesses who rely on us for supplies to make their products.  Over the past several weeks, we implemented several best practices to provide a safer shopping environment, including the installation of physical barriers between customers and cashiers, enhanced cleaning, and the enforcement of social distancing measures.  We are prepared to reopen our stores in a responsible way when the current situation improves, and we look forward to welcoming our valued customers back to our stores.  Until then, we pray for those affected by the virus, protection for the health care professionals caring for the sick, economic security for all impacted businesses and employees, and wisdom for our leaders.

Senator Murphy Is Fighting For Us

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Mar 232020

Below please find the Murphy office update on COVID-19. As always, if you need assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact our Hartford or Washington DC offices.

Here’s what you need to know today, March 23rd:

  • Today, Senator Murphy introduced legislation to force the federalization of our medical supply chain. The bill would require President Trump to implement the Defense Production Act, pivot U.S. manufacturers toward scarce critical medical equipment, and centralize distribution so that states and hospitals aren’t competing against each other to get it. In Connecticut, hospitals and medical professionals are in desperate need of supplies like gowns, masks and ventilators.
  • If you have personal protective items you can donate to our state’s medical professionals, please fill out the online form at www.211ct.org/DonationsCOVID19.
  • Connecticut has received additional waivers from USDA that will make SNAP more accessible to Connecticut residents and moderately increase SNAP benefits for some recipients. However, more needs to be done to help families get food and not go hungry. That’s why I am calling for Congress to increase all SNAP benefits by 15% in the next coronavirus aid package.
  • This afternoon and last night, Senator Murphy voted against moving forward with Republican legislation that would have created a slush fund to bail out big businesses. Senator Murphy remains hopeful that both parties can quickly reach a compromise that supports those most in need. Earlier today Senator Murphy went down to the Senate floor to call for a package that helps states combat the public health crisis. 
  • Today at 8 PM, Connecticut’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order goes into effect. Essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, etc. will remain OPEN. More information on that order can be found at: https://bit.ly/2WEOmj1
  • The Small Business administration will be hosting a conference call tomorrow to provide further updates to small businesses impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19). Wendell Davis, Regional Administrator of SBA will be explaining the loan programs and how companies can qualify. For more information and to register: https://www.ctexporters.com/special-topics-conference-calls/
  • Governor Lamont is urging people to sign up for cell phone alerts through the state’s CTAlert system. If you’re not subscribed to the #CTAlert emergency messaging system, visit: https://ctalert.gov
  • One fun thing: Kyle, a senior from Meriden, shares a song to encourage everyone to stay safe and practice social distancing. Watch here: https://bit.ly/2UwrP5b

For the latest information about keeping you or your family safe go to cdc.gov/coronavirus. For resources and information about Connecticut’s response visit ct.gov/coronavirus.

Oh, GRRRR, Beardsley Zoo temporarily closed As a health precaution

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Mar 162020

“Oh No!” — photo by Jack Bradley

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo today announced plans to temporarily close the Zoo, effective Tuesday, March 17, as a public health precaution. All education and public programs are cancelled or postponed. The City of Bridgeport and state of Connecticut leaders have called on businesses to close to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 following declarations of public health emergencies in Connecticut and the United States.

While there have been no known cases of exposure to COVID-19 at the Zoo, the decision to close was made to further support efforts to reduce the rapid spread of the virus and to protect the health and well-being of Zoo staff and the community.
During this period when the Zoo is closed, essential animal care and operations staff will continue to provide care for our animals without disruption. For the past weeks, we have developed plans to ensure our animals will be well cared for in the event of a disruption to regular operations.
Zoo leadership will continue to monitor developments of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and follow guidance from federal, state, and local authorities to determine when the Zoo will reopen. Please visit the Zoo’s website at www.beardsleyzoo.org for updates.

Hungry? Orange Ale House Has Wonderful Corned Beef And Curbside Pickup

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Mar 162020

The tri-state governors (CT-NY-NJ) have ordered that all gyms, movie theaters, casinos, bars and restaurants be closed beginning at 8 p.m. today. Bars and restaurants can continue to fulfill takeout orders.

In response, the Orange Ale House, 517 Boston Post Road, Orange is offering curbside pickup of sandwiches (right now, with St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner their famous Corned Beef is HUGE).

On Facebook, owner Jim Hassenmayer posted, “Today is going to be a big push for Corned Beef and cabbage or a Corned Beef Ruben or just a Corned Beef on rye. And as much as the governor has required us to be closed we are going to try to offer as much Corned Beef as possible today.”

“Moving forward we will be open and have takeout service, including curb service. We have delicious food including phenomenal pizza.” In addition, he said, “Local delivery will be available starting tomorrow (Tuesday, March 17). So for now come in and enjoy but wash your hands.”

Call the restaurant at 203-795-0707 to place an order and again when you arrive and someone will bring your food out to you. We’ll update their plans as the Gov’t Shut-down continues.


Sick? Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home

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Mar 122020

(Royalty Free Photo)

If you are sick with the COVID-19 virus, people aren’t the only ones you have to worry about. You also may make your pet sick.

People: As much as possible, you should stay in a specific room and away from other people in your home. Also, you should use a separate bathroom, if available.

Animals: You should restrict contact with pets and other animals while you are sick with COVID-19, just like you would around other people. Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.

When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick. If you are sick with COVID-19, avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.

If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with pets and wear a facemask.

See COVID-19 and Animals for more information.

Schools, Library Closed, Large Gatherings, Senior Events Suspended

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Mar 122020

                                            (Royalty Free Image)

With the Coronavirus now identified as a global pandemic and human cases as close as Stratford, the town of Orange is taking every precaution  to try and keep residents safe and stop the spread of the virus in the BOWA area.

Please read this entire article so you know what services are and aren’t open to the public until further notice.

Everyone should do his or her part to help prevent the spread of this potentially deadly virus. If you were exposed you may not know that you have it until you have symptoms, yet, in the meantime, you could be spreading it to others.

If you are a senior, if you have a compromised immune system or chronic illnesses, you may be more susceptible to getting the virus and passing it to others in the same age demographic. Please take precautions, follow the health director’s suggestions, and stay safe.

Case Memorial Library

The Town Library will be closed today for two weeks or until further notice. All non essential programs, meetings, and gatherings at the High Plains Community Center will be cancelled for the next two weeks.

Senior Center

Senior Center Director Dennis Marsh today announced, “Please be aware that due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) as a precautionary measure, the Orange Senior Center is suspending all Senior Center activities until further notice.”

BOWA Schools 

The BOWA Superintendents sent out this message:

This afternoon, the Quinnipiack Valley Health District (QVHD) and the Orange Department of Health made the recommendation that all Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge, and Amity schools should be closed. This step is being taken as a precautionary measure to limit community transmission of ​Novel Coronavirus (​COVID-19).

The closure is effective immediately and will begin ​Friday, March 13, 2020​.

At this time, we anticipate schools will be closed until further notice. As this situation is evolving, we ask that you continue to check district websites for information and we will continue to use our communication systems to keep families and staff informed.

During the school closure, resources for supplemental learning may be available. Further information about supplemental learning activities will come from each individual BOWA school district and/or your children’s teachers.

Please remember that the purpose of the school closures is to limit community transmission through contact and by gathering large groups of individuals together. You can support our community by keeping your children home during the closure. During the closure, school buildings will remain staffed but not open to the public. Our districts will continue to follow guidance, recommendations, and directives from the health departments and the state Department of Education.

High Plains Community Center

Offices at the High Plains Community Center will remain open, but all meetings and gatherings have been suspended for the time being.

Town Hall, Police, Fire, Highway Offices

The Orange Town Hall offices will be open so, if you have any questions or an emergency situation you will be able to reach a human for answers.



COVID-19 Information: Director of Health Amir Mohammad

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Mar 122020

(Illustration from Shutterstock)

Here is the latest Coronavirus Information from Orange Health Director Amir Mohammad:

The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve rapidly and as a result, information and guidance change frequently. On March 10, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced Public Health and Civil Preparedness Emergencies, effective through September 9, 2020. While the term “emergency” can raise concern for people, please know that there is no cause for panic. The declaration of these emergencies allows additional resources and supplies to be deployed to the state of Connecticut – resources that are necessary to identify infection and slow the spread of coronavirus in ourcommunities.

To date, the Orange Health Department has been maintaining situational awareness through weekly teleconferences with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH). We are conducting countless activities related to preparedness and communicating regularly with town leaders and community partners.

While we cannot predict the impact of COVID-19 with great certainty, we can assure you that there are many trusted and experienced community partners in our public health system working together to protect our communities. We are grateful for these partnerships.

Below are some categorized key points and links to resources. It is a comprehensive list. Please read through to the end:

Practice Everyday Preventive Actions Now

Practice and remind others of the importance of using everyday preventive actions that can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Yes, these are simple strategies and they work:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
  • Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue. Throw the tissue in a lined trash container.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Germs spread thisway.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily (e.g., tables, countertops, lightswitches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles) using a regular household detergent and water.

o If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent and water prior to disinfection. For disinfection, a list of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-

approved products is available at Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Fighting Products. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Ifsoap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods.
  • Get an annual flu shot… and future vaccines that are developed to fight new communicable illnesses.


Decisions Regarding Cancellation or Postponement of Events and Activities

As of March 12, 2020, there are 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut but we can expect that to change. We are watching for signs that the disease will swell and require social distancing measures such as school closures or cancellation of public events. Since these measures are very disruptive, they should be implemented based on timely assessment of the evolving situation.

Decision-makers should take common sense steps regarding event cancellation or postponement and make decisions on a case-by-case basis based on their specific situation, event space, target audience, and the ability of community partners, staff, volunteers, and attendees to participate or attend.

On March 9, 2020, Governor Lamont notified Executive Branch agency employees of actions that will be implemented to prevent the spread of coronavirus. At this time, these actions apply only to CT state employees but can be used as a framework for decision-making:

  • Any state of Connecticut-organized large meetings, conferences or gatherings that are anticipated to have over 100 people in attendance between now and April 30 will be evaluated to determine if the events should move to teleconference or be postponed.
  • For events or meetings with large numbers of people within arm’s length of each other, encourage those who are at higher risk due to age (70 or older); those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, or chronic lung diseases like COPD, as well as those with severely weakened immune systems, to dial in to participate or not attend.Governor Lamont: “While these actions may feel overly disruptive to some given the very few cases we’ve seen so far in Connecticut, I believe they are appropriate to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and I’m encouraging all employers in Connecticut to take similar actions.”

    Key Messages

    • 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 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 in contact with a positive case of COVID-19 or have traveled to locations with community transmission.
    • Someone is considered a contact if they have had direct, face-to-face contact with a person with COVID-19.
    • People who are severely ill or think they have COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider for instructions. These people SHOULD NOT go directly to a healthcare facility without first calling a healthcare provider (unless they are experiencing a medical emergency).
    • People sick with mild symptoms of respiratory illness should stay home to take care of themselves and stay away from others. This includes distancing themselves from people in their household and vehicles.
  • Our local health care systems are preparing for what could be a surge in patients. That means the ability to access emergency care may start to change in the coming weeks and months.
  • Hospitals, clinics, health centers, medical groups, and other healthcare systems are enhancing their efforts to screen and care for people. This may include screening patientsoutside before you enter the building. Follow instructions on all posted signage.
  • Connecticut nursing homes have been directed by the CT DPH to impose restrictions on all visitors, except when a current health state (e.q. end-of-life care) is in question.Be Ready by Being Informed – Resources to Post and Share with OthersCDC Coronavirus website (main page). Lots of exceptional resources here:


    Communication resources such as fact sheets and posters:

    https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/index.html https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/workplace-school-and-home- guidance.pdf

    Guidance for homes, communities, schools, businesses, and more:


    Recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting:

    https://www.cdc.gov/ coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html

    Information for Connecticut residents: ct.gov/coronavirus

    Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can also call 2-1-1 for assistance. The information line is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance and TDD/TTY access for those with a hearing impairment. The hotline is only intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms is strongly urged to contact their medical provider to seektreatment.

    CT DPH website – Including Behavioral Health resources for coping with stress and talking with children during infectious disease outbreaks: https://portal.ct.gov/DPH/Public-Health- Preparedness/Main-Page/2019-Novel-Coronavirus

    As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please call the Health Department at (203) 891-4733. Sincerely,

    Amir Mohammad, MD, MPH Director of Health

CT Senators Join Coronavirus Roundtable Discussion In Milford

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Feb 282020

State Senator James Maroney (D-Milford), joined United States Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Governor Ned Lamont, state Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor), Milford Mayor Ben Blake and several medical experts and professionals for an informational roundtable discussion regarding the coronavirus, COVID-19 at Milford Hospital on Friday, February 28.

About COVID-19: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), confirmed (COVID-19) cases reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death with symptoms which include fever, coughing and shortage of breath.

The CDC reports it believes symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. COVID-19 is being spread from an individual actively sick with the coronavirus disease 2019 can spread the illness to others, according to the CDC.

They recommend COVID-19 patients be isolated either in the hospital or until they no longer pose a risk of infecting others. They consider an individual no longer a risk to spread COVID-19 if they exhibit all the following:

  • The patient is free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
  • The patient is no longer showing symptoms, including cough.
  • The patient has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.

Additionally, the CDC reports coronaviruses are, “a large family of viruses.” They add, “some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals.”

They also state, it is not common for animal coronaviruses to infect animals and people while also being spread between people.