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Vaccinations continue across Connecticut with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Wednesday a total of 1,309,225 doses have been distributed to the state and 1,061,375 doses have been administered.

So far, about 20.7% of Connecticut’s population has received at least one vaccine dose and 8.7% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

Cloe Poisson / CT Mirror

Gov. Ned Lamont hinted this week that he will announce changes to restaurant capacity and travel restrictions when he holds his regularly scheduled coronavirus media briefing on Thursday. He says the state is in a better place now that COVID-19 transmission rates have dropped.

The first people are brought in as the City of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Hartford residents 75 and over at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut on February 06, 2021.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The pandemic has put public health in the spotlight across the world. But in the United States local public health departments have been chronically underfunded, and Connecticut is no exception.

This hour, we hear from a local health director about the challenges public health departments in Connecticut are facing, even as the state celebrates high vaccination rates compared with other states.

And, we look beyond the pandemic: what should the public health workforce of the future look like?

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package facing a U.S. Senate vote includes funding for states and local communities to tackle behavioral health and addiction after record-level drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2020.

At a virtual roundtable Monday with Connecticut addiction prevention and treatment providers, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he hopes additional money will help boost on-the-ground efforts. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont’s decision to move to a purely age-based schedule for COVID-19 vaccine distribution has critics wondering how equitable that is for underserved communities. Also, it's been said frequently of late that people of color aren't getting the vaccine out of fear and mistrust. To talk about these issues, Camelo Communication founder Wilson Camelo joined All Things Considered. Camelo Communication is the Hispanic marketing agency for Hartford HealthCare.

Chion Wolf

As part of our Reports From Recovery series, today we’re hearing from two women whose heroin addictions shook up their lives, and put them right up close to the edge of existence.

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Connecticut’s vaccine supply is about to get a big boost with the arrival of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The federal Food and Drug Administration could approve the new vaccine for emergency use as soon as Friday. And if it does, Gov. Ned Lamont says the state will get 30,000 doses next week.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Disability Rights Connecticut has filed a complaint with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights over the state’s new age-based vaccine policy.

A pregnant woman
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Scientists and researchers have been talking about COVID-19 vaccines since last spring when the virus first surged through communities. But the timeline for development was really unknown.

“So it was there in my mind, but it wasn’t something I was counting on in terms of protection or timing with pregnancy,” said Samantha Morris. 

January 22, 2021: Resident Austin Anglin 67, is given the vaccine by Nurse Practitioner Geriann Gallagher as Hartford HealthCare launched a mobile vaccine clinic to get the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable populations starting at The Open Hearth in Hartford
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Grocery store employees and other essential workers had expected to soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, Governor Lamont says the state’s vaccination plan will focus on age groups.

Today, we talk with Dr. Deidre Gifford, Acting Commissioner of the state Department of Public Health.  We ask: how does this new plan impact vaccine equity?

The state’s chief medical examiner said Wednesday his office identified more than 100 deaths that should have been reported as COVID-19-related, including dozens originally certified as non-COVID fatalities. 

The Food and Drug Administration released an analysis of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning that supports its authorization for emergency use.

On Friday, a panel of advisers to the agency will meet to evaluate the vaccine and make a recommendation about whether it should be given the OK. If the agency goes on to authorize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it would be the third, after those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, to become available in the U.S.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont’s announcement this week that Connecticut’s vaccine rollout will be done almost exclusively by age has stirred major controversy, particularly among some essential workers and people with preexisting conditions.

But top state officials said it’s a decision based both on data and a lack of it. 

Connie French, of Vernon, turns her head away as Community Health Centers worker Nadya Gonzalez gives her the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont says the state is moving to an age-based vaccine rollout plan. That means essential workers and those with comorbidities are no longer next in line -- except, that is, for teachers and child care workers.

Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

Kim Steinberg had already registered her business in January on the state’s website so she could get her employees vaccinated. Now most won't qualify until May. 

Breaking With National Recommendations, Lamont Says Conn.'s Vaccine Rollout Will Proceed By Age

Feb 22, 2021
Seniors 75 and over wait 15 minutes in an observation area after receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Connecticut Convention Center.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he is throwing out the state’s current playbook for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout – which had prioritized people with underlying medical conditions and certain types of workers, such as grocery store and agricultural employees – and is shifting to a system that is strictly age-based, with the next round of shots open to people who are 55 to 64 beginning March 1.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

This week public health officials confirmed Connecticut’s first case of a coronavirus variant originally detected in South Africa. But the extent to which Connecticut is screening for COVID variants remains unknown. The state public health lab lacks the capacity to test for COVID variants, and while the state is working with two outside labs to conduct variant surveillance, it has formalized no contracts to outline the parameters of that work.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

An overwhelming number of people signed up to testify Tuesday during what was expected to be a contentious public hearing on school vaccination requirements -- so many that lawmakers, by a majority vote, decided to cap the duration of the virtual hearing at 24 hours.

The limit was criticized by several Republican members of the state Public Health Committee, as well as those who testified throughout the day. 

Petar Milošević / Wikimedia Commons

Navigating pregnancy should be an exciting time, but new parents don’t have the same support system right now. This hour, we talk about pregnancy and birth during a pandemic.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is now blocked from Instagram after he repeatedly undercut trust in vaccines. Kennedy has also spread conspiracy theories about Bill Gates, accusing him of profiteering off vaccines and attempting to take control of the world's food supply.

"We removed this account for repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines," a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told NPR on Thursday.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Connecticut has so far administered nearly half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to eligible residents and workers, but emerging data on the vaccine rollout in individual towns and cities indicate early signs of inequity.

It’s why local health providers, community advocates and leaders are working together to identify residents who are being missed, particularly people in underserved populations within larger cities. In Hartford, collaborators are undertaking more targeted approaches to vaccine education, messaging and accessibility. 

Paloma Munoz
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

Last March, days after returning home from a family trip to Spain, Paloma Munoz’s 4-year-old son started to cough.

He spiked a fever overnight and began feeling short of breath. Alarmed, Munoz found a hospital with drive-up COVID testing and took her son to get swabbed.

When the results came back negative, she was relieved. Then a bill for $270 arrived in the mail.

True Colors, the Hartford-based nonprofit offering an array of resources for LGBTQ youth over the last 22 years, has abruptly closed its doors. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

New state data revealing town-by-town COVID-19 vaccination coverage shows that the rollout in some areas of Connecticut is happening at a faster rate than in others.

The preliminary numbers confirm what some public health experts and health equity advocates have suspected all along, which is that vulnerable and underserved communities, including Black and brown neighborhoods already suffering high infection and mortality rates, are at risk of falling through the cracks. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Several public health proposals are making a comeback to the legislative arena this year, including a couple that have sparked significant controversy in past sessions.

The COVID-19 pandemic cut short the 2020 legislative session. Lawmakers managed only a few weeks of committee meetings and a handful of public hearings before the Capitol was shut down in late March.

More than half of all people in Connecticut who died from COVID-19 in the first wave of the disease lived in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Advocates for the elderly want to know whether someone should be held accountable for those deaths -- so they’re asking Gov. Ned Lamont to stop shielding the homes from legal action.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public

Nate Walpole steadied his hand, readied his needle and issued a friendly warning. 

“Sir, big poke!” Walpole said, holding the syringe in place for a few seconds before quickly pulling it out and tapping it on a nearby table, protective plastic flipped up over the needle.

On this particular day, the syringe contains only saline, injected into a pillow held in place on a classmate’s shoulder. But soon, it will be the real deal: the COVID-19 vaccine. 

In the weeks after winning the November election, Joe Biden began naming officials to tackle the vortex of crises his administration would face on day one.

Stewart Black / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger. 

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about the nature of altruism.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

President Biden signed two executive actions Thursday that are designed to expand access to reproductive health care and health insurance through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid.

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