“We don’t have enough tests”: Senator Murphy concerned as CT plans to reopen this week

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has expressed his concerns to News 8 about Connecticut starting phase 1 of reopening on May 20. His main concern is that there is not enough widespread COVID testing.

Murphy pointed to the Staywell Health Center in Waterbury as an example; they’re only offering coronavirus testing on Fridays at this time.

“The problem is we don’t have enough tests. We still are not getting enough tests from the federal government in order to be open here in Waterbury every day,” Senator Murphy said.

“I think we’ve seen a really positive trajectory in terms of positive rates in hospitalizations,” Murphy said. “It’s time for us to slowly begin turning the lights back on in our economy. But people have to be patient because if we do see a spike in a particular part of the state or statewide, we might have to pull back a little bit. But, I think it’s important now to try and test and see if these downward trajectories are real.”

Under Governor Ned Lamont’s Phase One Reopening Plan, barbershops, salons, retail stores, offices, restaurants, outdoor museums, and zoos can start to reopen if the management of those places wants to.

Jay Majors Rapuso desperately wants to. He owns two Major League Barber Academy shops — News8 spoke with him at his East Haven location Saturday. He sid the financial cut to his business has been painful.

“My bills have been piling up,” he said. “I have my barbers calling me. They’re so excited to get back.”

But, when they get back, they’ll see major changes in the shop. For instance, customers will be by appointment only and cannot sit in waiting areas. The barbers’ chairs will be more than six feet apart; barbers will wear masks and face shields; customers will wear masks; the barbers’ equipment must be frequently sterilized — mainly in between appointments; and the shop has been given a thorough cleaning.

“We have to be extremely vigilant with not creating the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Majors said.

Even with those changes, News8 heard concerns from hair stylists at other salons. One of them telling us she doesn’t feel comfortable being among the first workers to return to the job during Phase One.

“I feel like they’re using us as Guinea pigs,” said hairstylist, Heather Fuhrman.

All restaurants can still do take out. But, in order to comply with the rules set forth in Governor Lamont’s Phase One reopening plan, restaurants can serve dine-in options only in an outdoor seating area where tables are at least six feet apart — there is no indoor dining.

Paulo Diaz was eager to pick up his takeout on Crown Street in New Haven tonight, but, he’s not sure if he has the appetite to try and dine at restaurants just yet.

“Honestly I’ll probably do take out a little while longer,” he said.

Senator Murphy told News8 he feels it’s important that this entire reopening process is a slow, careful one — one he feels could be monitored better if Connecticut had more coronavirus testing capabilities. He points the finger directly at The White House.

“The more testing capacity we get, the easier it is to open,” he said. “Which is why I’m just crazy about trying to get the Trump administration to do more on testing.”

The senator also wants Connecticut residents to know just because the state is starting to reopen on Wednesday, he says this is no time to let our guard down.

“I think one of the big reasons we’ve seen a downward trajectory in some of our (hospital) rates has been because everyone’s wearing masks and we can’t give up on that just because we’re starting to reopen,” he said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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