Health | Connecticut Public Radio


Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

At almost 16 years old, Emma Heslin knew very little about any type of diabetes. But then she was diagnosed with Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes.

“You’re like, what is that, what does that mean?” said Heslin, now a 22-year-old registered nurse. “So, you’re not going into it knowing it’s lifelong.” 

COVID collection specialist Michelle Perez seals a vial after administering a test during Griffin Health's COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Tunxis community college on November 12, 2020 in Farmington, Connecticut.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to quickly authorize the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine after a panel of advisers voted in favor of it last night. By this time next week, some people in Connecticut will have received the first dose of the vaccine.

Cloe Poisson / CT Mirror

Some restaurant workers in Connecticut are planning a demonstration in front of the governor’s mansion to protest comments made by a Yale infectious disease specialist at a recent official coronavirus media briefing. Dr. Manisha Juthani said that indoor dining is too risky right now in this time of pandemic. 

Marylu Sarmiento of West Haven (center) joined dozens of other protesters in May calling for support for immigrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The United States is inching closer to authorizing the use of a coronavirus vaccine. But even if Connecticut health care workers start receiving it as soon as this weekend, the general population shouldn’t expect it until later next year.

Graeme Robertson / AP

After more than nine months of a pandemic that has sickened and killed millions worldwide, the United States is on the verge of obtaining its first federally reviewed COVID-19 vaccine.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a group of independent scientists and researchers from institutions all over the country, will hold a public meeting today to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine. 

A medical worker talks to a man going through the testing process at Connecticut's first COVID-19 rapid testing center in New Haven back in April.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are surging across the country and here in Connecticut. Just in this state, the number of people hospitalized has more than doubled in the last month. That surge is leading to concern about the capacity at hospitals to treat those with the coronavirus.

The Trump administration wants to require the incoming Department of Health and Human Services team to review most HHS regulations by 2023 — and automatically void those that haven't been assessed by then.

The recently proposed rule would require HHS to analyze within 24 months about 2,400 regulations — rules that affect tens of millions of Americans on everything from Medicare benefits to prescription drug approvals.

ALAN LEVINE / Creative Commons

Shortly before his 24th birthday, Jesus Morales Sanchez of New Haven was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, a chronic illness that requires him to take insulin for the rest of his life.

But at the time, he was in between jobs and didn’t have health insurance, so the medication would cost him several hundred dollars that he didn’t have. 

COVID collection specialist Michelle Perez swabs a visitor while being administering a test during Griffin Health's COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Tunxis community college on November 12, 2020 in Farmington, Connecticut.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has been coordinating closely with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. So far, Lamont has resisted imposing the types of lockdowns instituted early in the pandemic like banning indoor dining, but Cuomo is threatening to do that in his state.

Rhoda Baer/National Cancer Institute / Creative Commons

Pfizer may receive emergency approval from the FDA this week, but who’s in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

This hour, we talk with members of Connecticut’s Vaccine Advisory Group, including co-chair Dr. Reginald Eadie. He’s one of the leaders who’s planning how COVID-19 vaccines will be stored and distributed in our state in the coming weeks and months.

We also talk with Tekisha Dwan Everette, a health equity expert who’s a member of the vaccine group. Given the disparate impact COVID has had on racial and socioeconomic groups, how will Connecticut give out the vaccine fairly?

Are you one of the people who may be eligible to be vaccinated later this month? Will you get it?

We want to hear from you. What questions do you have about the COVID vaccine?

When COVID-19 restrictions reduced his work schedule at the National Institutes of Health, Sam Smith decided to turn to another time-consuming job: applying to medical school.

He'd always wanted to go into medicine, but what was happening in the world had a big impact on the kind of medicine he hopes to practice. Now Smith wants to specialize in infectious diseases.

The experience of the past year "makes me think, there's probably going to be another pandemic" in the future, said Smith, 25. "So I want to be on the front lines of the next one."

First Doses Of COVID Vaccine Could Be Administered In CT In Mid-December

Dec 3, 2020
Matthew Lotz / U.S. Air Force

About 380,000 health care workers, nursing home residents and first responders will have received the first doses of an experimental new coronavirus vaccine by late January, Gov. Ned Lamont estimated on Thursday, offering the first timeline of an immunization rollout in Connecticut that could begin in mid-December.

Ingmar Riveros (left) and Peruvian refugee Xiomy De la Cruz (right) serve 150 families from their food pantry in a store basement in Hartford on Nov. 19. Many of the families are undocumented and severely impacted by the pandemic.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Early in the pandemic, Xiomy De la Cruz was working at a fast-food restaurant when her work hours were cut back. She is a Peruvian refugee and a single mother with two children and another on the way. Like many families, she found herself in various pantry lines to make ends meet.

10% of Americans are living with diabetes. Are you one of them? Managing a chronic illness can already be difficult, but managing it during a pandemic can be nearly impossible.

Looking back, Sam Bloechl knows that when the health insurance broker who was helping him find a plan asked whether he'd ever been diagnosed with a major illness, that should have been a red flag. Preexisting medical conditions don't matter when you buy a comprehensive individual plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. Insurers can't turn people down or charge them more based on their medical history.


The federal government could grant emergency use authorization to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as next week, potentially getting doses in the hands of Connecticut hospitals by mid-December.

While official statewide distribution plans are still being finalized, health providers do know enough about the upcoming vaccines in order to take some immediate steps in preparation, with little time to spare. 

Hospital leaders say they are better prepared for this second wave of coronavirus cases but they disagree on in ways in which it will be easier than the first wave.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

Data show the average length of stay in Connecticut hospitals for COVID-19 patients is about half of what it was in the summer. The Connecticut Hospital Association says COVID patients spent an average of 15 days in the hospital in June. By October, that number had fallen to 7 1/2 days.

Nathaniel Rivard 20, of Naugatuck leans back as COVID collection specialist Jon Schwartz administers a swab test during Griffin Health's COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Tunxis community college on November 12, 2020 in Farmington, Connecticut.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

More than eight months after the first coronavirus-related death was reported in Connecticut, the state death toll surpassed 5,000 over the weekend.

Franchise Opportunities / Flickr

Open enrollment periods for two of the nation’s largest health insurance programs and marketplaces are running concurrently, but time is ticking.

Connecticut state officials and health insurance experts are urging people to pick health plans now before it’s too late to secure coverage for 2021, which will see a continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic and its long-term impacts. 

ALAN LEVINE / Creative Commons

When the coronavirus became widespread in Connecticut earlier this year, Tom Dykas was already on a seasonal layoff from his job.

By April, that layoff became permanent as businesses downsized and shed positions due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. That left Dykas, who has Type 1 diabetes, searching for employment. 

Rhoda Baer/National Cancer Institute / Creative Commons

While we’re all focused so much these days on the novel coronavirus, the flu hasn’t gone away. It’s still very much a threat. In a recent discussion, Dr. Albert Ko of the Yale School of Public Health explained why none of us should fear the flu shot, and he emphasized that controlling the flu also will help control COVID-19.

Hear the interview below:

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Financing, supply chain logistics, and tracking who’s got the shot are just a few of the challenges facing health administrators in the coming months as the first round of COVID-19 vaccines makes its way to Connecticut.

It was Memorial Day when then-candidate Joe Biden made his first public appearance since the coronavirus shut down in-person campaigning. Before he went out to place a wreath at a veterans memorial in Delaware, Biden and his team decided he would wear a mask. It wasn't a difficult decision, an aide said when asked about the choice.

Chion Wolf / Connecticut Public Radio

COVID-19 cases continue to grow in Connecticut. And although the governor’s office has rolled the state’s reopening back not all municipal leaders think it’s enough.

This hour, we talk with New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker, who’s called for a further rollback that would halt indoor dining.  What impact would this have on Elm City businesses?

And we find out how students in New Haven are doing. Most haven’t had in-person school since the spring. 

Are you a New Haven resident? We take your questions and comments for the mayor.

Later in the hour, we check in with Yale New Haven Hospital. With rising cases, how is hospital capacity holding up?

State Panel Weighs Who Should Be First In Line For COVID Vaccine

Nov 20, 2020
Rhoda Baer/National Cancer Institute / Creative Commons

At least 10 of Connecticut’s 27 acute care hospitals have the “ultracold” storage needed to stow the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer – which must be kept at a temperature between -112 to -76 degrees Fahrenheit – and all hospitals that are part of a larger health system have indicated they have access to the icy storage and a means of transport for the immunizations, a state health official said Thursday.

Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public

Federal workplace safety officials have fined Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London after an employee there contracted COVID-19 and later died.

DVIDSHUB / Creative Commons

A settlement was reached in a nationwide class action lawsuit against the Army that will help veterans with less than honorable discharges struggling with behavioral health issues gain access to care they need.

As the nation gears up for a massive vaccination effort, the Trump administration is doubling down on a novel, unproven injection device by providing more than half a billion dollars in government financing for something still awaiting Food and Drug Administration approval.

Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States.

And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute.

The pandemic that everyone's talking about?