Health | Connecticut Public Radio


  An unprecedented year; how many times have you heard that one? Did you anticipate that masks would become a staple part of our wardrobe?

Last Saturday marked the anniversary of the Connecticut pandemic lockdown. This hour, Yale Health epidemiologist Dr. Albert Ko joins us to reflect on one year in the coronavirus pandemic. 

We want to hear from you. What has this last year been like for you and your family? 


Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

A federal program that’s in place to cover the medical bills of first responders and survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has seen steady claims since 2016. Then, the pandemic happened.

ARASMUS PHOTO / Creative Commons

Health care advocates and immigrants rights groups are urging Connecticut lawmakers to expand the state’s Medicaid program eligibility to undocumented immigrants.

Proposed legislation in the state human services committee would allow anyone who meets state residency and income thresholds to enroll in HUSKY Health plans, regardless of citizenship status. 

Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash / Illustration by Chion Wolf

You know how you can, for the most part, remember what happened to you yesterday? Well what if you were able to remember almost EVERY day that clearly? All the way back to when you were very young?

How would your day-to-day choices be affected, knowing that you’ll remember what you did forever? Do we all have our memories stored inside our brains like they do, but we don’t have a way to access them? Or something else?

Meet two of around 60 people in the world who are known to have Highly Superior Autobiographical Memories, or HSAM.

Plus, hear from an expert studying the people with this ultra-rare condition, and what we can learn about our brains, our memories, and ourselves.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Federal data this week showed Connecticut lagging the national average on fully completed COVID-19 vaccinations. But federal and state officials now say those numbers were reported in error. 

Updated March 11, 2021 at 9:34 PM ET

President Biden is aiming for the country to begin to find a degree of normalcy and begin to move on from the coronavirus pandemic by the July Fourth holiday, Biden announced in his first prime-time address Thursday night from the White House on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.

Courtesy: SEIU 1199

More than 100 workers at long-term care facilities blocked traffic in Hartford on Wednesday to demand better wages and benefits, as well as a solution to the staff shortages that are affecting an industry hit hard by the pandemic.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

The former manager of communications and government relations for the state Department of Public Health filed a wrongful termination lawsuit Tuesday against the department, citing violations to whistleblower protections.

Av Harris, who had held the position since early 2019 and had served the state in other roles for nearly a decade, alleges that his rights were violated when his former employer fired him on New Year’s Eve. 

Some of Onikepe Owolabi's most vivid memories of medical school in her native Nigeria are of the teenage girls she saw in the emergency room of a rural hospital with complications from an unsafe abortion — painful infections that, if left untreated, can lead to permanent disability or even death.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Yolanda Negrón was barely leaving her house throughout the pandemic out of concern for preexisting conditions that might put her at a higher risk of severe complications from the coronavirus.

Despite her best efforts, she tested positive for COVID-19 in November. 

a closed sign
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont let it be known last week that most pandemic-induced venue capacity limits statewide would be a thing of the past as of March 19. Many are hailing this move as a harbinger of a return to normalcy after a year of dealing with the coronavirus. But not everyone is so sanguine. Nathan Grubaugh is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health. He joined All Things Considered to talk about the Twitter thread he dropped on Thursday soon after the governor’s announcement.

JMSuarez / Wikimedia Commons

In the pandemic, some residents have been working paycheck to paycheck to pay their bills, many have lost jobs and not everyone has a place to live.

This hour, we talk about the state of homelessness in Connecticut and across the country. Many community organizations have been working on new and innovative solutions to reduce  homelessness. 

Courtesy: Tillett family

One year ago, Chris Tillett became Connecticut’s COVID-19 patient zero. Living in Wilton at the time, he tested positive for the coronavirus on March 8, 2020, after having flown home from a professional conference in California. He ended up becoming gravely ill and spent weeks hospitalized.

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 /

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 /

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.