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For Some Transgender People, Pandemic Paves Path To Transition

Jan 13, 2021
Kyle Jones said she feels more at home in her body since beginning her transition in early 2020.
Cloe Poisson

Kyle Avery Jones had recently come out as transgender to her parents and friends when her final semester at the University of Connecticut began in January 2020. She wore androgynous clothes to school, sought out gender-neutral bathrooms, and limited her socializing to queer-friendly weekend gatherings off-campus.

In a series of changes to initial guidelines, Trump administration officials announced Tuesday that states should vaccinate all residents 65 years and older sooner rather than later.

Federal health officials are also encouraging states to expand the next phase of vaccine distribution to all adults who have preexisting conditions that put them at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

A Hartford HealthCare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

So far, tens of thousands of Connecticut residents have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet nationally, vaccine rollout has been going slower than experts had hoped.

This hour, we hear from reporters about how policies have shaped vaccine availability. And we get answers from a doctor about the science behind the shot.

What questions do you have about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine?

In September, after six months of exhausting work battling the pandemic, nurses at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., voted to unionize. The vote passed with 70%, a high margin of victory in a historically anti-union state, according to academic experts who study labor movements.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

As the first round of COVID-19 vaccination clinics at Connecticut nursing homes came to a close Friday, state and public health officials said there remains hesitancy among some nursing home workers to take the vaccine. 

Even with Democrats technically in the majority in Congress, the party split is so slim that passing major health care legislation will be extremely difficult.

So speculation about President-elect Joe Biden's health agenda has focused on the things he can accomplish using executive authority. Although there is a long list of things he could do, even longer is the list of things he is being urged to undo — actions taken by President Trump.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Two New Haven County residents under the age of 25 years old have tested positive for a new, more transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2, the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Medical experts say this variant, scientifically labeled B.1.1.7 and first discovered in the United Kingdom, appears to spread more easily and quickly. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.” 

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Connecticut 4th district Congressman Jim Himes joins us to talk about what happened at the U.S Capitol and how the country moves forward from here. 

A Hartford HealthCare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Transportation workers, mail carriers, teachers, first responders, grocery store employees and others are positioned to be the next groups of people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut.

State officials said during a public meeting Tuesday that the state’s Phase 1B vaccination distribution could begin as early as this month and include up to 800,000 workers and residents. 

Paramedics in Southern California are being told to conserve oxygen and not to bring patients to the hospital who have little chance of survival as Los Angeles County grapples with a new wave of COVID-19 patients that is expected to get worse in the coming days.

The Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency issued a directive Monday that ambulance crews should administer supplemental oxygen only to patients whose oxygen saturation levels fall below 90%.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Luz Morales was working as a certified nursing assistant at RegalCare at Waterbury, a nursing home, when she fell ill with COVID-19.

At home, her 70-year-old mother, Nicia, looked in on her. 

Beyond COVID-19: Waste Testing A Vast Public Health Frontier

Jan 4, 2021
Annabelle Pan, a research scientist in Jordan Peccia's lab at Yale University, examines sludge samples.
Steven Geringer / Yale University Photo

As scientists measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the sludge flowing from New Haven sewage treatment plants, they’re also finding that our biological waste can tell them much more about our collective pathologies.

Just one week after Massachusetts closed schools and day cares in March, Boston Children's Hospital saw a drastic change in asthma-related visits to the emergency room: They were down 80% from the prior two months.

It’s finally 2021. But that line in the calendar doesn’t mean that the pandemic is anywhere near over, so I want to start this year off by looking back at people whom I interviewed in the series that we launched before Audacious.

Snowstorms, holidays and general inexperience in handling a pandemic response is to blame for a "lag" in the number of Americans so far vaccinated for the coronavirus, according to U.S. officials.

The federal government previously estimated that 20 million Americans would receive the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine by the end of the year. But as 2020, a year defined by the coronavirus pandemic, comes to a close on Thursday, the government appears set to fall well short of that goal.

With the arrival of winter and the U.S. coronavirus outbreak in full swing, the restaurant industry expected to lose more than $230 billion in 2020 is clinging to techniques for sustaining outdoor dining even through the cold and vagaries of a U.S. winter.

Chion Wolf photo

The coronavirus has taken the lives of over 5,600 Connecticut residents. Urbano Sifuentes of West Hartford was among them. For 25 years, Sifuentes worked as a janitor at the University of Hartford.

Speaking in Spanish, his daughter Rosemary Torres remembered him as a generous man who worked hard and had a great sense of humor.

“He was a very, very loving, very tender man. It has been difficult because it was very surprising the way he left us. It was so sudden. He was always cheerful and always joking around.”

At the start of the pandemic, stores quickly sold out of disinfectant sprays and wipes. People were advised to wipe down their packages and the cans they bought at the grocery store.

But scientists have learned a lot this year about the coronavirus and how it's transmitted, and it turns out all that scrubbing and disinfecting might not be necessary.

When Linsey Marr looks back at the beginning of 2020, what strikes her is how few people in the world really understood how viruses can travel through the air.

"In the past year, we've come farther in understanding airborne transmission, or at least kind of beyond just the few experts who study it, than we have in decades," says Marr. "Frankly, I thought it would take us another 30 years to get to where we are now."

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are starting to roll out, will schools and workplaces require their people to be vaccinated? Is that even legal? To talk more about this, Pullman & Comley attorney Mark Sommaruga joined All Things Considered.

A Hartford HealthCare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Several national polls and surveys show that a growing number of people are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s their turn.

But with vaccine supply limited in the first weeks and months of distribution, Connecticut will have to prioritize exactly who comes next in line after hospital employees, health workers and people in long-term care facilities. 

Hm. H Zinn
Ken Turino

If you’ve ever been to a dietician to lose weight, or just to get healthier, you’ve probably heard the same advice and been told to eat the same kind of food. But American dietitians often leave out room to eat diverse cuisines and food groups, largely leaving out a lot ethnic food. 

AP Pool

Nine grueling months into the pandemic, nursing home workers and operators say they’re feeling some relief with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Everybody wants to get back to the lives we had before, so the vaccine is a great step toward that,” said Sophia Walker, a registered nurse at The Reservoir nursing home in West Hartford.

A panel of medical and public health experts said Friday that accidental drug deaths from opioids are spiking in Connecticut this year compared to 2019. 

Sigurd Decroos - freeimages.com

It’s estimated that there are as many as 7,000 different known rare diseases in the world. In the The U.S., it’s defined as any disease or condition that affects fewer than 200,000 people.

Today, you’ll meet two of them, and their mothers.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

In anticipation of potential COVID-19 surges in the coming weeks, state officials and health experts are expanding the Hartford region’s hospital bed capacity.

The state National Guard and the Department of Public Health in partnership with Hartford HealthCare are reopening a 600-bed field hospital at the Connecticut Convention Center. They say this is a precautionary move as numbers of cases and hospitalizations continue to generally trend upward. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

More shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived Tuesday at Connecticut hospitals, many of which began immediately vaccinating front-line workers.

That included Ivan Sarmiento, an emergency room registered nurse at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, a member of Trinity Health Of New England. He was cheered on by colleagues as he became the first employee to get a dose shortly before noon. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine already here in Connecticut and the Moderna version reportedly close behind, the big question now is: Will enough of us actually take the vaccine? Recently, Yale infectious diseases specialist Dr. Manisha Juthani joined All Things Considered to talk about why we should not fear taking these new COVID vaccines.

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

If you own or rent a home that is older than 1978, you have to assume there is some lead in it. Lead is not be used in paint anymore, but the lead that exists in older homes can still be dangerous.

This hour, we talk about lead poisoning and the risks it poses to children. Coming up, we hear what homeowners and renters need to know about lead in their homes.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Surrounded by colleagues underneath a tent that protected them from the freezing rain, Dr. Ajay Kumar rolled up his sleeve as a nurse cleaned the upper part of his arm with an antiseptic wipe.

“Here we go, number one,” someone shouted. 

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