COVID-19

CT Trail Census Releases COVID-19 Trail Impact Report

well dressed man walking on a trail with sun coming through the trees behind himUConn Extension is pleased to release the latest data on how several of the state’s most popular multi-use trails are being impacted by COVID-19. The new report documents trail use during March 2020 at 13 sites on multi-use trails in Connecticut, and compares use with the same period in 2019, as one indication of the changes in trail use occurring simultaneously with the outbreak of COVID-19. “Many of Connecticut’s trails are experiencing an unprecedented level of use,” observed Charles Tracy, coordinator for the Trail Census, “The Trail Census team wanted to share these initial findings as soon as the data was available.” More than half of the participating trails recorded an increase of greater than 100% in use, compared to March 2019.

The report released today is part of an ongoing trail research project conducted by the Connecticut Trail Census, a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on trail use will be conducted at a later date. Other Trail Census projects in 2020 include research to estimate statewide trail use; organizing a multi-state conference on bicycle and pedestrian data collection; a new data visualization portal; and work on creating a statewide trails website.

The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared counters and user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers. The goal is to develop an accurate picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and to advance and inform new trail policy, design and construction throughout the state. Data is compiled annually and is available online and through public education programs. 

Initiated in 2017 as a partnership between UConn Extension, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trails advocacy organizations, the Trail Census has expanded to over 20 data collection sites on trails across the state. The program receives funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program. For more information, visit www.cttrailcensus.uconn.edu   

Link: COVID-19 Trail Impact Report

CDC Resources for COVID-19

coronavirus image
Photo: National Park Service

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is the best source of information on health-related information related to COVID-19. Here are a few of their recent posts that you might be interested in:

Running Essential Errands

Cloth Face Coverings: Questions and Answers
SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2020 (NEW)

Strategies for Optimizing Supply of N95 Respirators
SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2020 (UPDATED)

Economic Assistance Programs for Agriculture & Businesses

Economic Assistance Programs

Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses. Applications can be submitted starting today.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

For more information and updates, visit Treasury.gov/CARES and SBA.gov/PayCheckProtection.

Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering all states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here for coronavirus relief loan options.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan  

  • The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • The SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
  • Click here to apply.
  • For questions, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail  disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

Economic Injury Disaster Advance Loan
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

Apply for the Loan Advance here.

Other Coronavirus Assistance
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for a loan advance of up to $10,000.

The Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.

Terms:

  • Up to $25,000
  • Fast turnaround
  • Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

The SBA can also provide debt relief to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. For information click here.

Farm and Business Financial Analysis

SRAC 4400: Introduction to Financial Management of Aquaculture Businesses – click here.
SRAC 4401: Assessing the Financial Position of an Aquaculture Business: Using Balance Sheets – click here.
SRAC 4402: Determining the Profitability of an Aquaculture Business: Using Income Statements and Enterprise Budgets – click here.
SRAC 4403: Evaluating the Liquidity/Cash Position of an Aquaculture Business: Using Cash Flow Statements – click here.

Please note federal websites are being updated daily to reflect loan program changes to improve access or new programs authorized by the CARES Act.  If a link no longer functions, go to the agency website and look for a coronavirus economic assistance program link.

New Guidance on Essential Employee Safety

New Guidance from State on Essential Employee Safety

man carrying bag of corn off of a trailerJust released guidance from State of Connecticut on health recommendations for essential employees. In addition to already widely available social distancing and sanitary recommendations, highlights are as follows:

  • Control and monitor external visitors on work site
  • Discourage carpooling
  • Increase physical space between employees and customers (drive throughs, plexiglass partitions at check out, etc.)
  • Deliver products curbside or provide home delivery
  • Spread out multiple shifts/schedules or increase number of shifts to promote social distancing
  • Stagger meal & break times, adjust start/stop times to minimize congregating at time clock or break areas
  • Provide time between shifts and/or prior to shift to allow for sanitizing of work environment and tools
  • Increase ventilation and percentage of outdoor air in indoor work areas
  • Where possible segment work area into zones to discourage staff from entering areas unnecessarily
  • Provide disposable disinfecting wipes for commonly used surfaces (doorknobs, keyboards, etc.)
  • Prohibit sharing of tools where possible
  • Shared tools and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use
  • If an employee is suspected sick or confirmed to have COVID-19, follow CDC cleaning and disinfection guidelines
  • Employees with no access to soap and water should have access to hand sanitizer

Read the recommendations in their entirety CT Guidance on Essential Employee Safety

Social Distancing on Trails

social distancing in parks and trails infographic

Recommendations for Social Distancing on Trails

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.

COVID-19 and Pets

fluffy dog smiling at the camera

A message from CDC: There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. Download the fact sheets:

COVID-19 and Animals: Is Coronavirus a Concern for Pets?

How to Stay Healthy Around Pets

Wethersfield Continues to Offer UConn PEP Program

UConn PEP logo Around the state, organizations have found a way to continue UConn Extension’s Parent Leadership Training, part of our People Empowering People (UConn PEP) program.  With technology, determination and creativity PEP facilitators are keeping their parent leaders connected and informed during this difficult time by offering the UConn PEP program via Zoom.

One such program is being run by the Wethersfield Early Childhood Collaborative (WECC) and Wethersfield Public Schools. UConn PEP Facilitator Jeanine Berasi is in her 4th year as a PEP facilitator.  Jeanine started by contacting parents one at a time and doing a social check in. Next she practiced using Zoom with each family. Once parents felt comfortable, Jeanine offered Wethersfield’s first UConn PEP Program online via Zoom. Jeanine coordinated with WECC staff to have a local business, Cove Deli, deliver meals to each family (dinner was offered as part of the program when the group met in person). Here is what participants had to say about the program:

“We are living some challenging times where the stress level at home can be elevated.  Our routines have changed and we are now the actual teachers to our children and so much more. Meeting with my PEP 2020 friends through Zoom last week was like taking a breath of fresh air.  Not only was that alleviating to the soul but receiving the dinner delivered was touching to the hearts of my children and myself. I’m so grateful that I’m part of this group not only because of the challenging times we are living but also because of the great friends I’ve made. Thank you so much PEP 2020.”   – Nancy

“In a time where we are all being asked to self quarantine, it was truly great to see everyone’s faces while we talked about our trying times. To be able to offer support or an ear to listen about what we are feeling; the Zoom meeting was able to give us a bit of normalcy. Having dinner delivered was as close as we could get to hanging with our group.” – Allison
“Zoom communication is great at this time, especially for me that I’m only home with my daughter. My husband is working in Massachusetts. He is staying there because he doesn’t want to risk our health. It’s very scary, however being able to communicate with PEP is a relief and I know I’m not alone in this. Also food delivery is amazing, it’s such a great gesture when you know someone is thinking about you at this cruel time.  I’m so grateful for PEP especially for Kim and Jeanine! God bless everyone and may we pass this as soon as possible. Thank you 🙏🏻”  – Besa

“So thankful for our PEP leadership…. Jeanine didn’t miss a beat and quickly coordinated virtual classes/meetings via the Zoom app and even provided us with dinner delivery, such a kind and greatly appreciated gesture during these tumultuous and uneasy times.“ – Carolina

In a time when so much is uncertain, we are grateful to all of you for finding ways to support each other and stay connected. Stay Safe.

– Robin Drago-Provencher, UConn PEP

Guidance for Equine Businesses

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Guidance for Horseback Riding Schools and Stables / Boarding Stables

Source: Connecticut Department of Agriculture

horses in early morning light at UConn
An early morning view of horses along Horse Barn Hill Road. Photo: UConn

HARTFORD, CT – In addition to implementing the Stay Home, Stay Safe protocols effective on March 23, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. through April 22, 2020; Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7H required the Department of Economic and Community Development to provide a guidance document to determine essential businesses.

The Essential Businesses or Nonprofits designated in the guidance are not subject to the in-person restriction set forth in Executive Order 7H. Item 7 Services Including contained: “Animal shelters or animal care or management, including boarding, grooming, pet walking and pet sitting” as an essential business.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg), working in concert with the Connecticut Farm Bureau and the Connecticut Horse Council, recognizes that this is a challenging time for all – both equine boarding facilities and horse owners alike. It is our intent to ensure the health and welfare of animals is met, while mitigating the risk to the people engaged in those tasks. It is prudent for all of us to use common sense as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Every equine facility is unique with various capacities, services, and capabilities in providing the care essential to the wellbeing and health of the horses entrusted in their care.

Stables providing full-board services that meet all of the horses’ needs may set their own policies about restricting access by owners seeking to visit or ride horses. The Department supports limitations imposed by stable owners. Specific concerns regarding care should be addressed between the horse owner and stable owner/manager.

All stables should set up a schedule of access times to ensure that there are no more than five (5) people at the barn at one time. It is imperative that the principles of social distancing, proper disinfecting, and sanitary practices are maintained. Stables are free to enact additional measures and controls as needed to ensure the safety of all.

This guidance document cannot cover every single scenario. The following information is meant to clarify what equine activities may continue and which should be discontinued at this time.

Essential Equine Care

  • Providing food, water, proper handling, health care (veterinary and farrier services), and proper housing
  • Turnout and exercise necessary to an individual horse

Not Essential Equine Care

  • Riding lessons/programs/camps
  • Club/organization meetings
  • Visits to an equine facility by anyone other than an essential equine caregiver

Recommended Practices

  • Maintain the recommended social distancing protocols that include six (6) feet of separation between individuals
  • Limit gatherings to fewer than five (5) people
  • Ensure proper hand washing
  • Limit access to and disinfect common areas regularly
  • Avoid sharing equipment and supplies between people
    • Non-porous materials (leather bridles/saddles/halters, nylon halters/lead ropes, gate latches, door handles, spray nozzle) harbor the virus longer than porous materials (cotton lead ropes, saddle pads)
    • Clean communal leather tack daily with tack cleaner
    • Disinfect gate latches, spray nozzles, cross tie snaps, pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and other frequently used items regularly or after contact with personnel
    • Stall door latches, hose ends, light switches and feed scoops should be cleaned and disinfected frequently
  • Sporting events are prohibited

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state’s citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state’s economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.

Equine Business Guidelines

Connecticut Department of Agriculture: Equine COVID Guidance (download this post)

Essential Equine During a Pandemic – Frequently Asked Questions

Essential versus Nonessential Equine Care During a Pandemic

Personal Preparedness Plan for Equine Owners

Additional Resources

CT Horse Neighbors Facebook page, horse neighbors helping neighbors

CT Horse Council – can help you get the help you need

Other links for help from CT Statewide Animal Response Team

United Horse Coalition Resources for Horse Owners

Agriculture Producer Survey Request

Angie Harris
Agricultural Producers: Please take this five minute survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. The Governor of Connecticut issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order except for essential businesses on March 23, 2020. The Commissioner of Agriculture clarified, per Executive Order 7H, that agriculture businesses are considered “essential businesses”. This anonymous survey will help us to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s agriculture industry. Results will be used to continue developing Extension resources.
 
Take the survey at: bit.ly/Ag_COVID