Editorial (opinion): Thumbs down to restaurant crowds possibly causing COVID spike

Thumbs down to the possibility that increased restaurant capacity is a contributing cause to the surge in COVID cases in Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont opened the doors to 100 percent capacity March 19, though social distancing and masks remained mandates. Last week, the state had a 5 percent daily COVID test positivity rate, which some health officials attribute to the looser restrictions. Of course, there’s considerable conjecture about the cause, but it should be a reminder to diners that the coronavirus doesn’t magically take a pause when the masks come off to eat in a group.

Thumbs up to a bill moving forward in the General Assembly that is designed to expand the definition of domestic violence. After being combined with another measure, Senate Bill 1060 lost its nickname of “Jennifers’ Law,” in honor of two women — Jennifer Dulos and Jennifer Magnano — who inspired it. Drawing headlines for the change, though, puts more attention on the reality that many lives are at stake in this bill, and enhancing it can only help victims. The broader definition would include various forms of non-physical abuse, and mandate that courts prioritize the safety of children in cases involving accusations of domestic violence. The bill now heads to the full state Senate.

Thumbs down to online hacking that led to the suspension of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles’ emissions tests. The state DMV has had various issues with testing over the decade, and vulnerability to an outside attack further tarnishes faith in the process. But the DMV has made the right decision to allow vehicles to be registered regardless of the test. The challenge will be convincing owners to get the vehicles tested once the system is back online.

Thumbs up to the health benefits of wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing apparently being proven by the low rate of flu cases as the season nears its end. Flu season, which roughly runs from October to May, has so far resulted in 13 hospitalizations in the state, along with a single death. One year ago, there were nearly 3,000 flu-associated hospitalizations and 77 related deaths.

Thumbs up to Stamford’s Nick Simmons, who has been tapped by U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as senior adviser focused on school reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simmons has served in Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration as director of strategic initiatives, collaborating with the Connecticut Departments of Public Health and Education to open state schools. Lamont’s office boasts that Connecticut has offered a higher rate of in-school classes than any other northeast state, along with “the most comprehensive” student data collection network in the nation. Cardona, who hails from Connecticut, was familiar with Simmons’ work from his time as the state’s commissioner of education.