Nicole Leonard | Connecticut Public Radio
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Nicole Leonard

Nicole Leonard joined Connecticut Public Radio to cover health care after several years of reporting for newspapers. In her native state of New Jersey, she covered medical and behavioral health care, as well as arts and culture, for The Press of Atlantic City. Her work on stories about domestic violence and childhood food insecurity won awards from the New Jersey Press Association.

While an undergraduate journalism student at Boston University, Nicole was a reporter for The Daily Free Press and a radio host at WTBU. As an intern, her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe and Boston.com. In her downtime, she watches way too many movies and television shows, which complicates her goal to become a better runner.

Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

At Bradley International Airport on a recent Wednesday, Lizzie McClellan had just gotten off a flight from Georgia, where she was visiting her grandmother for the last two weeks.

It’s also on a list of states that are becoming hot spots for new COVID-19 cases. McClellan said because she frequently went out to places that were open there, she plans to quarantine at home in Connecticut and get tested. 

Alan Levine / Creative Commons

When Minnesota passed a law this spring to make insulin more affordable for its residents, advocates in other states like Connecticut saw it as a victory.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Wearing a mask and speaking through a megaphone, Jesse Martin prompted a crowd that had gathered outside the state Department of Public Health building in Hartford late Thursday afternoon.

“What do we want?” he asked.

“Hazard pay!” the crowd yelled back.

“When do we want it?”

“Now!” 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Events across Connecticut Friday marked the commemoration of Juneteenth, the day in 1865 when news of the end of the Civil War reached Texas, marking the true end of chattel slavery in the U.S. -- two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

COVID-19 testing
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Every Thursday, a researcher from Yale University picks up a cooler from the East Shore Water Pollution Abatement Facility in New Haven.

In that cooler is a week’s worth of samples from the sewer system that experts call “sludge,” or the solid waste that is left over after treating wastewater. It can contain a mixture of chemicals, metals and remnants of human waste that is flushed down the toilet. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

What began as some gastric issues last year has now progressed into painful gallstones and chronic problems for Hannah Gebhard, who lives in Naugatuck.

“It was really just a ramping up of the symptoms until I one day landed myself in the emergency room at 2 a.m. because I was in so much pain,” she said. 

Arasmus Photo / Creative Commons

Less than a month ago, a family member in Olga Gutierrez’s home in Bridgeport tested positive for COVID-19. But because she and her family are undocumented immigrants, Gutierrez said their options are limited.

“We were terrified,” she said. “We think we that we might have the virus, too. We have not been able to go to the doctor because we are uninsured and we do not have money to cover this.” 

Gov. Ned Lamont.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Connecticut’s continuing decline in the number of daily hospitalizations, as well as an uptick in testing capabilities, has both state officials and federal health experts confident that Wednesday’s reopening will be successful.

staying at home
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Even before the stay-at-home orders were officially issued in late March, Sarah Keitt had begun a two-week period of quarantine in her Fairfield home, isolated from her husband and two children. 

“It was lonely, it was painful to have basically no contact other than yelling up and down the stairs to people,” she said. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Ilana Usiskin said when she picks up the phone to call someone infected with coronavirus, she’ll often ask them to think back over the past few days. 

COVID-19 testing
Kathy Willens / AP Photo

On an average day before the pandemic, the emergency department at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford would be busy with people coming in for heart attacks, strokes, trauma, injuries, common illnesses like the flu and bronchitis, and other less acute problems.

But Dr. Steven Wolf, chairman of emergency medicine at Saint Francis, said it’s been weeks since the emergency room has had that level of activity outside of COVID-19 cases. 

Clorox bleach
Vox Efx / Wikimedia Commons

Pharmacists and nurses manning the Connecticut Poison Control Center’s phone lines this past weekend were busy with calls after President Donald Trump’s suggestion last week that scientists look at how disinfectants like bleach could be ingested or injected into humans as a treatment for the coronavirus.

social distancing
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Just a couple of weeks ago, Mary Gotlibowski was still going from hospital to hospital, working as an emergency room recovery coach and meeting with patients who had survived a drug overdose or those who had come in seeking help for addiction.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread throughout Connecticut and hospitals began to admit infected patients, Gotlibowski and other coaches had to leave their posts in the emergency departments. 

The Sharon Health Care Center
Courtesy: Athena Health Care Systems

New state data shows that COVID-19 is present in more than half of the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, some of which are experiencing higher rates of infection and death than others.

Despite early prevention protocols of hand washing, hygiene, symptom screenings, and visitor restrictions, 375 residents have died after contracting the virus – nearly 40% of all state deaths from the disease outbreak. 

prescriptions
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Alisha Scott recently had a telemedicine appointment with her doctor, who prescribed a refill of a medication called hydroxychloroquine.

She’s been taking the antimalarial medication for years to manage lupus, an autoimmune disease. 

gloves
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

A national shortage of personal protective equipment has left states and individual providers scrambling to find new supplies as COVID-19 continues to spread.

Meanwhile, Connecticut health care workers are coming into direct contact with infected patients, and not just at the hospitals. Nurses and home health aides said rationing and reusing respirator masks, gloves, gowns and other equipment has been distressing. 

medical equipment
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

A tremendous amount of research already tells us that not everyone has the same access to health services and high quality of care, or in other words, health equity. It’s well documented that black, Hispanic, and other minority residents often suffer worse health outcomes than their white counterparts.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Connecticut hospitals are receiving more patients ill with COVID-19 as the new coronavirus continues to spread rapidly.

Public health experts predict that hospitalization rates will get worse in the coming weeks, putting a burden on health care professionals who are also trying to protect themselves and other patients from becoming infected. 

Machu Picchu
Katie de Chabert / Provided

This story has been updated. 

After nearly three weeks in Peru, which earlier this month closed its borders, canceled most flights, and ordered mandatory quarantine, Katie de Chabert and her family members have finally returned home.

De Chabert, who is a school teacher from Madison, her mother and her niece had been stuck in Cuzco for the last two weeks during the country's coronavirus lockdown.  

Joe Amon/Connecticut Public/NENC

It was 7 a.m. and cold on a recent Wednesday in Hartford. Despite the early hour, workers from Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center were outside in a nearby parking lot, unloading medical equipment and workstation carts from a mobile unit.

The carts were rolled into a heated white tent, and boxes of hospital gloves, paperwork files and test kits were set up on a nearby table. More doctors, nurses and hospital workers started to arrive, and by 8 a.m., cars were forming a line at the hospital’s drive-through coronavirus testing site.

Chelsea Daniels, a licensed practical nurse at Fresh River Healthcare in East Windsor and member of health care union SEIU 1199, says she's concerned about how nursing homes will prevention coronavirus infection. Thurs., March 12, 2020.
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Adalis Martinez isn’t eating out as much these days. She also doesn’t spend too much time in stores. And she’s washing her hands — a lot.

“When I go to the store and come out, I’m washing my hands even in my car, so that I don’t touch anything,” she said. “It’s very concerning.” 

NIAID-RML

The spread of coronavirus in the United States is evolving rapidly. Here in Connecticut, the situation is changing on a daily — if not hourly — basis.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
NIAID-RML

A Wilton man has become Connecticut’s first presumptive positive coronavirus case, state officials announced Sunday afternoon.

Gov. Ned Lamont said in a news release that the patient is between 40 and 50 years old and is being treated at Danbury Hospital. Officials said this person likely became infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 illness during a recent trip to California. 

The Office Of Gov. Ned Lamont

A community physician who works at Bridgeport Hospital is the second hospital employee in Connecticut to be infected with coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 illness.

Hospital officials told reporters Saturday afternoon that the man is a New York resident and lives in Westchester County. The state was notified of the positive case by the New York State Department of Health. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

State officials in Hartford Friday said they want to expand coronavirus testing “dramatically” in the next couple days and weeks.  

Gov. Ned Lamont said this will cover more people who need to be tested or treated quickly. 

us surgeon general
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in the United States amid a global outbreak of a novel coronavirus, both federal and state health officials urge communities to prepare for the spread of disease.

U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome M. Adams met with state leaders and health officials Monday at the Connecticut Department of Public Health Laboratory in Rocky Hill. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

It was just a year ago that Eli Terris of Hamden was diagnosed at 30 years old with Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong chronic disease that requires a medication called insulin.

And the hardest part for him? Having to navigate health insurance and the costs for his disease treatment. 

Courtesy of Access Health CT

Thousands of people will get health insurance coverage this year from plans they chose through Access Health CT, the state’s Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace. But state officials worry about changes to federal law that may hinder continuing participation in health insurance programs. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Hundreds of people packed into the Legislative Office Building in Hartford Wednesday ahead of a public hearing on a bill that would change the state’s childhood vaccinations laws.

Connecticut children can attend public school by either complying with required vaccinations or by obtaining an exemption from vaccination based on religious or medical reasons. A proposed bill would eliminate the religious exemption. 

health care providers
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Connecticut advocates for addiction treatment say proposed funding cuts to the federal Medicaid program would leave fewer resources for people with substance use disorders.

The proposed cuts are part of President Donald Trump’s federal budget plan, which was released earlier this month. It includes cuts to Medicaid, a program that provides health coverage for people in poverty, and the Affordable Care Act totaling about $1 trillion in the next decade. 

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