Patrick Skahill | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Patrick Skahill

Reporter

Patrick Skahill is a reporter at WNPR. He covers science and the environment. Prior to becoming a reporter, he was the founding producer of WNPR's The Colin McEnroe Show, which began in 2009. Patrick's reporting has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, Here & Now, and All Things Considered. He has also reported for the Marketplace Morning Report. 

He can be reached by phone at 860-275-7297 or by email: pskahill@ctpublic.org.

Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

Alexander Amado started working with Community Health Center Inc. nearly a year ago. He took a job at the health center’s Hartford COVID-19 testing sites when they were newly constructed last spring.

It was a slow start, he said, but everything quickly escalated.

“People would come like four to six people in a car, and people would wait like three hours to get tested. It was pretty insane,” Amado said. “It was a little rough, but we got the rhythm going. And there were two lanes, because that was the volume of cars, and that would wrap around the building.”

Vaccinations continue across Connecticut with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Thursday a total of 3,247,275 doses have been distributed to the state and 2,612,551 doses have been administered.

So far, about 46.4% of Connecticut’s population has received at least one vaccine dose and 29.7% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

National Transportation Safety Board

Federal investigators said Tuesday that pilot error and poor engine maintenance contributed to the destruction of a vintage B-17 airplane, which crashed and killed seven people at Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2, 2019.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public

A key legislative committee voted Wednesday in favor of a program that could raise hundreds of millions of dollars for environmental programs in Connecticut, but it could also have an impact at the gas pump.  

AP Photo/Julio Corte

A new federal report released last week shows U.S. bald eagle populations quadrupling over the course of a decade. It’s an encouraging sign of growth for one of America’s most iconic animals, which comes as eagle populations in Connecticut also reached record-setting levels last year. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The state confirmed Tuesday that a new form of coronavirus first detected in New York has now made its way to Connecticut. 

The variant, called B.1.526, has been detected 44 times, according to information released Thursday through a collaboration among the Yale School of Public Health, Jackson Labs and the state Department of Public Health.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The state Department of Public Health said Monday that old census data are to blame for inflated COVID-19 vaccine estimates, which wrongly assert that 44 towns across Connecticut gave first doses to their residents aged 75 and older at a rate of more than 100%.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration reached an agreement Thursday with Connecticut's two federally recognized Native American tribes on a comprehensive gambling expansion plan that could eventually lead to sports wagering and online gambling in the state. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A major trash-to-energy plant in Hartford will close next year, raising questions about what will happen with hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage. Now the operator of that plant said it will also cease operations at its nearby recycling facility, effective May 1, 2021.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated data over the weekend that originally incorrectly logged tens of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine shots in Connecticut. The fix now places the state ahead of the national average on two key COVID-19 vaccination metrics. 

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. 

Cloe Poisson / Connecticut Mirror

When the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority announced plans to close its trash-burning plant in Hartford by July 2022, the agency said it would turn off the incinerators and transform the site into a transfer station for garbage. But conversations with the state appear to have stopped those plans, which could mean that when the plant shuts down, hundreds of thousands of tons of garbage may no longer make their way into Hartford.

Gov. Ned Lamont holds a press briefing at the Community Health Center in New Britain to highlight CHC’s walk-up COVID-19 testing site and to encourage continued testing, June 18, 2020.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Members of the state legislature heard testimony Monday on a bill from Gov. Ned Lamont aimed at reducing transportation emissions via a multistate collaborative called the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program (TCI).

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

Starting Monday, everyone in Connecticut 55 and over can begin scheduling COVID-19 shots. That’s an expansion from the previous rules, which limited vaccinations to people over the age of 65, first responders and medical workers. Vaccination is also being opened up to educators and child care workers. The online scheduling tool opened up at midnight.

Courtesy: DEEP

Crews worked Thursday to contain a fire at a scrapyard in Waterbury, which environmental officials said impacted the Naugatuck River.

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. 

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. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he supports an idea to double the 5-cent deposit and refund for certain cans and bottles. And while the so-called “bottle bill” still needs to go through the state legislature, increasing the deposit is an idea that Speaker of the House Matt Ritter recently said he also supports.

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.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Connecticut’s top environmental official said Wednesday she supports a proposal to prohibit the use of firefighting foam containing a family of toxic chemicals of the type that washed into the Farmington River in 2019.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont said last week that he doesn’t want to build a proposed natural gas power plant in Killingly and that he is hamstrung by regional market obligations. But the head of a trade group representing virtually all of the power plants in New England said the state does have some control over whether to approve the project. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

As forecast, Connecticut is contending with its first major storm of 2021. The weather system had dumped up to 16 inches of snow on parts of the state by late Monday.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public

Nate Walpole steadied his hand, readied his needle and issued a friendly warning. 

“Sir, big poke!” Walpole said, holding the syringe in place for a few seconds before quickly pulling it out and tapping it on a nearby table, protective plastic flipped up over the needle.

On this particular day, the syringe contains only saline, injected into a pillow held in place on a classmate’s shoulder. But soon, it will be the real deal: the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that Connecticut public health officials confirmed four more cases of a highly contagious version of the coronavirus in Connecticut.

While COVID-19 and the state’s budget are likely to dominate the current legislative session, Speaker of the House Matt Ritter said Monday that environmental issues are also on his radar.

New Haven school busses
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

When COVID-19 first cut through Connecticut in the spring, municipalities faced a litany of unanticipated expenses. Buildings needed to be sanitized, masks and gloves bought and town halls rearranged to accommodate remote workers.

To help, the state reimbursed local towns and cities more than $14.5 million in federal funds for coronavirus expenses in the first half of 2020. But state leaders also denied or deemed ineligible about 10% of all requests. 

Screenshot of News 12 Interview with Daniel Pizarro.
News 12

A Bridgeport city employee, Daniel Pizarro, could face criminal prosecution after hosting a 48th birthday bash on Jan. 16. 

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont says the state will take a "tiered" approach to distributing COVID-19 vaccines to people in Phase 1B in the coming weeks. 

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Lamont says people between the age of 65 and 74 will likely be able to schedule an appointment to get the shot in early February. 

"Right now it looks like we’re going to be able to open the lens and allow people 65 and above probably in a couple of weeks," Lamont said. "We’ll give you a clearer indication on that in the next 10 days."

Cloe Poisson / Connecticut Mirror

A coalition of 74 cities and towns met this week to discuss the future of the state’s trash. The discussions come as the Materials Innovation and Recycling Authority announced it will close its Hartford trash-to-energy plant by July 2022. That closure has some municipal leaders asking a big question about our garbage: Should residents pay for each bag they throw out?

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. 

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