HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - More than 1,000 people in Connecticut have died from the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday as hospitals in southern and western parts of the state contend with a surge in the number of infected patients.
State officials reported 65 new deaths associated with the virus, bringing the total number to 1,036.
"It's a milestone tragic day," Lamont said, asking for a moment to say a prayer for the families.
The state's first coronavirus death was reported on March 18, a man in his 80s who had been living in an assisted living facility in Ridgefield.
The area hit hardest has been Fairfield County, a part of the New York City metro that has become the epicenter of the country's worst outbreak. As of Friday, Fairfield County had 7,146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of 16,809 across the state.
Hospitals in the area are under strain. Bridgeport Hospital this week began moving COVID-19 patients into a 32-bed mobile field hospital that was nearing capacity, and soldiers with the Connecticut National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve have begun caring for COVID-19 patients at Stamford Hospital.
Some other COVID-19 developments Friday:
RAPID TESTING CENTER
Connecticut's first rapid COVID-19 testing center opened Friday in New Haven.
The drive-up center, located in the parking lot of the former Gateway Community College campus at Long Wharf, will provide testing by appointment in a partnership with CVS Health. Patients must register online to schedule a time for the free test created by Abbott Laboratories.
When patients arrive, they will be put in testing lanes. They are required to remain in their vehicles, and someone will check their registration and guide them through the swab testing.
Gov. Ned Lamont said test results will be available in about 30 minutes. Officials hope to conduct about 750 tests each day at the site.
"Not only will this new testing site significantly increase the number of people being tested, but the speed at which we can get results will aid in our effort to prevent further spread of this disease," Lamont said.
For most people, COVID-19 causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Workers at McDonald's restaurants at rest stops on Interstate 95 held a protest Friday over working conditions and layoffs during the pandemic.
The members of the Service Employees International Union want McDonald's to stop cutting jobs and provide workers with more personal protective equipment and cleaner facilities.
McDonald's did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
The University of Connecticut has subleased the 116-room residence hall on its Stamford satellite campus to the city for housing of patients recovering from COVID-19.
The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the legal agreement Thursday.
The rooms will be for people who have been treated and discharged from the hospital but need a place in which they can recover in isolation without exposing anyone else to the illness.
The school said people may begin moving into the building this weekend.
DISTANCE LEARNING ABSENTEES
School districts that have switched to online learning are reporting that not all students are participating.
Hartford school Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said Friday that about 1,500 of the city's 19,000 students have not checked in with school officials since schools closed. She said another 500 families have chosen not to participate in electronic learning and are instead receiving weekly educational packets in the mail.
The city has been distributing donated laptop computers to families, who can make appointments to pick them up.
New Britain officials say they are trying to reach about 800 students who haven't checked in with their online learning program.