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Health

A health care worker prepares to administer a nasal swab for a COVID-19 drive-by testing site
JOE AMON / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC/NENC

While most of Connecticut has seen a low rate of positive COVID-19 cases, the city of Danbury has become a concerning exception.

This hour, we talk to the city’s Mayor, Mark Boughton, to hear more about this local outbreak.

And later, contact tracing is a critical public health tool for containing the spread of COVID-19. But who are the people actually running Connecticut’s tracing efforts?

We hear from one of the state’s regional health directors.

And we check in across the Atlantic with a reporter in Germany, a place many point to as a model for public health response to the pandemic.

Kristina Gregory Donates Her Plasma After Testing Positive for Covid Anitbodies
Courtesy: Kristina Gregory

Fresh out of an Infinity Fitness gym class, you would never know the battle Kristina Gregory fought just a few months ago. 

Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

State public health officials said they’ll work to more aggressively test staff at nursing homes for COVID-19. But officials in the eldercare industry said Friday they’re still waiting for formal guidance on those changes from the state Department of Public Health. 

An inpatient treatment facility for substance abuse is the site of one recent COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury, according to the state Department of Public Health. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut legislators and health experts in Hartford Tuesday stressed that the number of opioid overdose deaths is up statewide. Evidence, they say, that the pandemic is interfering with addiction treatment and recovery.

“When we were doing our work in preparation for the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on children, on seniors, and on our individuals who are experiencing homelessness,” said Liany Arroyo, director of health for the city of Hartford. 

Mayor Mark Boughton says they getting ahead of recent Covid spike
Ali Warshavsky / WNPR

Danbury officials said Tuesday that contact tracing shows COVID-19 has spiked in the city due to residents traveling elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas, and now it’s now spreading within the community through sporting events and gatherings at religious institutions.

A diagram of the kidneys from Henry Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body" (1918)
Henry Gray / Wikimedia Commons

State Representative Jeff Currey is a longtime public servant. Now he’s asking the public to help him. The East Hartford lawmaker is in kidney failure, and he needs a transplant.

This hour, he joins us to talk about kidney donation. We often think of organ donation as something considered after someone’s death, but living donors can give a kidney to a person in need.

Coming up we hear from patients, donors, and medical professionals about this lifesaving transplant.

And we learn about a revolutionary system that pairs matching donors and patients--that allows for multiple kidney transplants. 

Have you considered becoming a kidney donor?

A health care worker prepares to administer a nasal swab for a COVID-19 drive-by testing site
JOE AMON / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC/NENC

Connecticut public health officials have issued an alert to Danbury residents after what the state called a “significant spike” in new coronavirus cases.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

As state officials continue to investigate a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in Norwich that killed one resident this month and hospitalized several more, one outstanding question is whether workers tested for COVID-19 were properly notified of their results.

Airman 1st Class Daniel Hambor / U.S. Air Force

Businesses have reopened and most schools have come up with plans to see students again, but it’s increasingly clear life won’t truly get back to “normal” until we have a vaccine.

But when will that be? This hour, we get the latest from New York Times science writer Carl Zimmer on the race to develop a COVID vaccine. We hear the status of ongoing vaccine trials and learn more about the research process that ensures a vaccine will be safe and effective.

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State officials are investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 cases at Three Rivers Nursing Home in Norwich, where one resident has died and several have been hospitalized.

The Department of Public Health has so far identified 13 residents and two staff members infected with the virus -- it’s the largest outbreak at a single nursing facility in about a month, according to state data. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The pandemic is raising questions about what’s best for children as they head into a new school year, as many schools continue to finalize plans for this fall and parents make individual decisions for their families.

Megan Goslin, a clinical psychologist and research scientist at Yale’s Child Study Center, said it’s a difficult time for everyone. 

A sign for coronavirus testing outside of a CVS drive-through in Hartford, Conn.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Pubic

Scientists at the Yale School of Public Health say they have developed a quick, affordable COVID-19 saliva test, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted it emergency-use authorization. It’s called SalivaDirect, and one of its project leaders is Anne Wyllie, an associate research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health. Wyllie spoke on All Things Considered about why this testing method is better than the swab method, the crucial role the NBA played in its development, and the price she and her team had to pay to make this dream a reality.

Pandemic Worsens 'Already Fragile' Situation for Homeless Youth, Young Adults

Aug 18, 2020
Residents of Malta House in Norwalk gather and play with their children.
Malta House Handout Photo

Johanna Vasquez, 19, and her 4-month-old baby ended up at Malta House in Norwalk as a result of an abusive relationship. Vasquez’s boyfriend hit her, she said, because he was home without a job and “was stressed.”

Report Offers Clues To What Went Wrong In Lethal COVID Outbreak In Nursing Homes

Aug 18, 2020
Some of the nursing staff at Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield in the early stages of the outbreak.
CTMirror.org

COVID-19 hit nursing homes in the Northeast states particularly hard, but those living in Connecticut long-term care facilities died more frequently than in any other state – a result of missteps by the state and a nursing home industry hamstrung by limited knowledge of the pathogen’s nature, how it spreads and to whom it posed the greatest risks.

yourgenome / Creative Commons

With the last decade of the twentieth century came the first clinical trials for a biotechnology known as gene therapy. Since then, how far has gene therapy come? And how far has it left to go?

This hour, we consider these and other questions, and we also hear from you. Were you or was someone close to you diagnosed with a genetic disease? What thoughts or questions do you have about gene therapy and its ongoing advancement?

Jeremy L. Grisham /

At least two Connecticut studies and a federal report show that the percentage of health care workers and residents in the overall population who have been previously infected with COVID-19 remains small, despite ongoing cases and hospitalizations.

And the numbers don’t come close to achieving herd immunity, when disease transmission is minimal because most people in a community are protected after vaccination or previous infection. 

Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

Once a week outside a Newington nursing home, Peggy Johnson stands masked, 6 feet apart from her 94-year-old mom, imagining what it would be like to hug again. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

A young man with his girlfriend stood in the shade under an awning at the side of an RV truck parked near Barnard Park in Hartford on a recent Tuesday morning. Holding a bag in one hand and reaching through an opening in a screened door with the other, he dropped empty, used syringes into a medical waste bucket.

“Eighty-eight, eighty-nine, ninety,” he counted, each needle making a thunk as it disappeared into bright red plastic. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

The former commissioner of the state Department of Public Health is firing back over her May termination ahead of an impending report this month on Connecticut’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two months after Gov. Ned Lamont announced her dismissal, Renée Coleman-Mitchell said in a written statement released late Monday night by the law office of Eric R. Brown that she was going to “set the record straight in my own words.” 

Power Outages Stoke Concern Over Possible Uptick In COVID Cases

Aug 9, 2020
Visitors gather to charge their electronic devices at the Westfarms shopping mall in West Hartford. Power outages after Tropical Storm Isaias have caused residents to visit public places where they can charge their devices, despite concern about COVID-19.
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

As hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents adjusted to life without power last week, Gov. Ned Lamont praised the state’s COVID-19 statistics, pointing to days without recorded deaths and a low positivity rate among test results.

Jernej Furman / Creative Commons

As of this weekend, the number of people in the U.S. infected with SARS-CoV-2 topped 5 million, just 16 days after passing the 4 million mark on July 23. This weekend's motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, portends that those numbers will continue to rise. 

Three potential vaccines against the virus have entered phase III clinical trials, in which safety and effectiveness is tested on thousands of healthy people. 

This stage can take months or years depending on how quickly researchers can detect a difference between the two groups, but some doctors believe that we'll have a vaccine sooner than later. Are we expecting too much from a vaccine? And, what about the expanding group of people afraid to trust any vaccine developed at "warp speed?" 

Is it time for another lockdown to get things under control until a vaccine is ready?

Courtesy Huma Farid

Since the killing of George Floyd, some Americans have been examining their role in perpetuating racism and are committing to no longer being silent and inactive.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Select Subcommittee hearing on the Coronavirus, Friday, July 31, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Erin Scott / Pool via AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Connecticut is in a good place when it comes to the pandemic. 

Carl Zimmer - New York Times columnist and author of 13 books about science, including She Has Her Mother’s Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity.
Chion Wolf / WNPR

Inside our genomes, we carry information about our recent ancestors as well as ancient human history. This hour, we talk with science writer Carl Zimmer about his book, She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Powers, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity. We ask him what our DNA can—and can’t—tell us about where we’re from and who we are.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

It’s been more than four months since Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her home by Louisville Metro Police as they executed a no-knock search warrant. She was a 26-year-old Black woman who worked as an emergency medical technician and aspired to become a nurse.

And while rallies, protests and much of the media attention has been fixed on the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Connecticut activists continue to bring attention to violence committed against Black women and girls through policing and from systemic racism. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly five months since Connecticut had it’s first coronavirus diagnosis in the state.

This hour, Connecticut Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford joins us to discuss where we are now.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

As several states across the U.S. continue to announce new daily death records from COVID-19, Connecticut officials this week said some nursing homes in the state are free to stop testing residents and staff for coronavirus. 

Kin Mun Lee / Creative Commons

Officials in Darien are warning about a rise in COVID-19 cases among children and teens.  

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Early in the pandemic, Dr. Kathryn Nagel was working in a medical ICU in New Haven when a patient in his 30s was admitted with diabetic ketoacidosis, a deadly condition that occurs when there’s not enough insulin in the body.

The man had diabetes and needed insulin medication to manage it properly, but he had been rationing the supply he had left. 

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