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Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

A health care workers union is delaying their strike plans at seven nursing homes while it continues to negotiate for more state funding for the long-term care industry and its workforce.

Thousands of New England Health Care Employees Union District 1199, SEIU members are still threatening to walk off the job Friday if their demands for better wages and benefits are not met – union leaders say there’s been some progress with state leaders, but not enough to meet their goals. 

Vaccinations continue across Connecticut with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Wednesday a total of 4,123,395 doses have been distributed to the state and 3,587,180 doses have been administered.

So far, about 57.9% of Connecticut’s population has received at least one vaccine dose and 45.9% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

An independent federal advisory committee on Wednesday recommended that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine be administered to adolescents ages 12 to 15 — a move expected to be quickly approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The Yard Goats are back in Hartford.

A health worker tries to adjust the oxygen mask of a patient at the BKC jumbo field hospital, one of the largest COVID-19 facilities in Mumbai, India, Thursday, May 6, 2021.
Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo

 As a second COVID-19 wave rages through India, the country’s health care system finds itself unable to keep up with demand. Without sufficient hospital beds, equipment and, more important, oxygen, India has put out a call for help worldwide. And some members of the Indian diaspora in Connecticut are answering. 

Lamont To Nursing Home Union: You Have CT's Last And Best Offer

May 11, 2021
Gov. Ned Lamont and members of the Connecticut National Guard.
Cloe Poisson /

Gov. Ned Lamont put the state’s largest health care workers’ union on notice Tuesday evening that he’d made his last and best financial offer to avert a strike threatened for Friday.

The governor’s chief of staff, Paul Mounds Jr., also used a virtual news conference to challenge SEIU District 1199 New England and more than three dozen congregate care facilities to remain at the bargaining table and hammer out a deal.

Workers At 6 More CT Nursing Homes Say They Are Prepared To Strike

May 11, 2021
A protester with healthcare union SEIU 1199NE is handcuffed at a protest earlier this spring. Protestors planned to sit in the building lobby to ask for better treatment of healthcare workers, including better wages and health insurance.
Yehyun Kim /

The state and its largest healthcare workers union continued their game of brinksmanship Monday as Connecticut inched closer to a major strike involving nursing and group homes.

While SEIU District 1199 New England added six more nursing homes to the potential strike, lifting the tally to 39, the Senate leader of the legislature’s budget-writing panel announced plans to funnel hundreds of millions of new state and federal dollars into related healthcare programs in the next budget cycle.

FEMA launched a mobile vaccine unit at the Beardsley Zoo in March 2021 to bring more COVID-19 vaccines to vulnerable communities. Health care workers administer vaccines.
Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

More than 7 in 10 adults over the age of 18 in Connecticut have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. And on Monday, the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for children age 12-15 under its Emergency Use Authorization. This will expand the pool of residents eligible to be vaccinated to an even younger cohort--starting later this week.

But as more workers come back to in-person offices, can employers mandate the vaccine for workers? This hour, we talk to an employment law expert.

First, we hear from Connecticut's Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre Gifford about the state's vaccine program and more. What questions do you have?

Updated May 12, 2021 at 3:33 PM ET

Teens and preteens in the U.S. have spent much of the past year distance learning. Many have missed out on birthday parties, book clubs, team sports and hanging out with groups of friends.

Tim Rasmussen / Connecticut Public

A labor union representing Connecticut health care workers notified six group home agencies Friday evening that more than 2,000 employees are prepared to walk off the job later this month.

Union workers are demanding wage increases, better benefits and solutions to staffing shortages in contract negotiations with agency owners and operators. 

A new study estimates that the number of people who have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. is more than 900,000, a number 57% higher than official figures.

Worldwide, the study's authors say, the COVID-19 death count is nearing 7 million, more than double the reported number of 3.24 million.

A federal judge has issued a sweeping ruling that would revoke a pandemic eviction moratorium put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But the Justice Department is appealing on behalf of the CDC.

The case was brought by the Alabama Association of Realtors, which argued that the CDC doesn't have the power to tell landlords they can't evict people during a pandemic. The judge agreed.

Less than three weeks after launching a quarantine-free "travel bubble" between New Zealand and Australia, officials in Wellington, New Zealand's capital, announced Thursday that flights from Sydney would be temporarily suspended after new coronavirus cases were detected there.

Top Lawmakers: CT Has Enough Money To Avert A Nursing Home Strike

May 6, 2021
House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said they are committed to finding money for nursing home workers.
Mark Pazniokas /

With a record-setting budget reserve, another big surplus projected and billions of federal coronavirus relief dollars on the way, top state legislative leaders are confident Connecticut has the resources to avert a nursing home strike this spring.

But while the dollars are plentiful — at least in the short term — so are the needs, as many groups besides health care workers are reeling from the pandemic-induced recession.

Beverly Pickering says her neighbors in suburban Detroit are hitting the road. And that's good news for her pet sitting business.

"I have people going to California, Florida, the Carolinas — all over the country," she said. "It's travel, travel, travel. It's just exploded."

Typically, if you get a COVID-19 vaccine that requires two doses, you should get two of the same vaccine. Two Pfizer shots, or two Moderna shots. Not one and then the other.

But in the future, that could change, either by necessity or by design.

This idea of using two types of vaccines isn't a new concept. It's known as heterologous vaccination, although there's a more colloquial term.

The coronavirus pandemic has reached the top of the world, where it has reportedly disrupted the annual climb up Mount Everest and other Himalayan peaks just as the window for summiting the mountains opens up.

In recent days, reports have emerged of an outbreak at Everest Base Camp in Nepal, at 17,597 feet (5,364 meters), where hundreds of climbers assemble each year to adjust to the oxygen-starved altitude as they prepare to ascend the 29,032-foot (8,849-meter) peak.

Starting Tuesday, the United States is putting restrictions on flights from India into U.S. airports, mainly affecting Indian nationals.

MUMBAI, India — India's top diplomat and his entourage have been forced to self-isolate, participating in a G-7 foreign ministers meeting only virtually — from hotel rooms near the venue in London — after at least two members of the Indian delegation tested positive for the coronavirus.

It's exactly what everyone's been waiting for.

"I'm very happy to get out," says one woman, sitting down to a view of the harbor, at the Pilot House restaurant in Sandwich, Mass., on Cape Cod.

"It's like we're free at last!" a friend laughs, joining her to celebrate a 70th birthday, albeit several months late.

They're as thrilled to be dining out again as restaurant owner Bob Jarvis is to see customers start pouring back in.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Nearly half of Connecticut’s more than 8,000 COVID-19 deaths have come in nursing homes since March 2020, so it’s little wonder that just over 4,900 nursing home workers have tested positive for the coronavirus in that time. Last week, Service Employees International Union District 1199 New England notified 33 state nursing homes that its 3,400 workers would go on strike at 6 a.m. on May 14 if they can’t reach a deal that significantly improves their working conditions and compensation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, a decision that could come by some time early next week. The vaccine is currently authorized only for people age 16 and older.

A ruling should come "shortly," Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla told investors in a conference call Tuesday morning.

Updated May 4, 2021 at 3:43 PM ET

President Biden on Tuesday announced a new goal to administer at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 70% of American adults by the Fourth of July.

The administration also aims to have 160 million adults fully vaccinated by then, a push to improve the level of immunity in the country to the point where the coronavirus has less of an opportunity to spread and so that more public health restrictions can be lifted, administration officials told reporters.

India has now reported more than 20 million coronavirus infections, including nearly 3.5 million people who are actively being treated for COVID-19. The country's health system is in a state of collapse as hospitals and clinics face dire shortages of beds and lifesaving supplies.

Haiti has one of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 in the world.

As of the end of April, only 254 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 in Haiti over the course of the entire pandemic. The Caribbean nation, which often struggles with infectious diseases, has a COVID-19 death rate of just 22 per million. In the U.S. the COVID-19 death rate is 1,800 per million, and in parts of Europe. the fatality rate is approaching 3,000 deaths per million.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo upstaged the Broadway League on Monday. Industry insiders expected the trade organization, which represents theater owners and producers, to say that some Broadway shows would reopen in September with more coming back during the fall. But at a press conference Cuomo beat them to it, lifting most capacity restrictions on restaurants, bars, museums, gyms, salons and retail shops by May 19. That list also included Broadway.

President Biden on Tuesday is set to announce new steps to reach rural Americans in the push to get as many people as possible vaccinated for the coronavirus, a White House official tells NPR. This emphasis comes as rural hospitals are raising alarms about the pace of vaccination — even among their own employees.

The number of children contracting COVID-19 in the U.S. is much lower than the record highs set at the start of the new year, but children now account for more than a fifth of new coronavirus cases in states that release data by age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. It's a statistic that may surprise many: Just one year ago, child COVID-19 cases made up only around 3% of the U.S. total.

The head of the European Commission said Monday that she is recommending that nonresident travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 and those from "countries with a good health situation" be allowed to travel to the European Union this summer.

However, von der Leyen cautioned in a tweet Monday that if variants of the coronavirus emerge, "we have to act fast: we propose an EU emergency brake mechanism."

The mass inoculation of millions of American children against polio in 1955, like the vaccinations of millions of American adults against COVID-19 in 2021, was a triumph of science.

But the polio vaccine had overwhelming public acceptance, while stubborn pockets of vaccine hesitancy persist across the U.S. for the COVID-19 vaccine. Why the difference? One reason, historians say, is that in 1955, many Americans had an especially deep respect for science.