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Coronavirus

Lamont Easing COVID Restrictions: 'We've Earned The Right'

Sep 24, 2020
Diners on the patio of Mondo’s in Middletown on May 20, the first day restaurants were allowed to open for outdoor dining.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Connecticut will move to a third phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions on Oct. 8, permitting theaters and concert halls to reopen on a limited basis and increasing the indoor capacity of restaurants and event venues as the New England weather turns crisp.

Brenda Leon / Connecticut Public Radio

After an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, Hartford Public Schools announced they will provide coronavirus testing for students and staff. School nurses have been trained to administer the tests to symptomatic students and will work in partnership with Hartford HealthCare and Trinity Health of New England. 

CT-N

The new leader of Connecticut’s largest business organization is now in his second month on the job. Chris DiPentima, CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, joined Connecticut Public Radio’s All Things Considered to talk about the tough act he has to follow, the current business climate statewide and his plans to make Connecticut businesses inclusive and equitable.

Courtesy: Darien Public Schools

Before what ended up being a 4 1/2-hour meeting Wednesday night, Darien teachers rallied outside the Board of Education building, urging the district to reconsider a proposal to bring all students back to full-time in-person learning on Tuesday.

A sewer manhole
Kurt Kaiser / Wikimedia Commons

As Connecticut looks to keep COVID numbers low, some researchers have turned to studying poop -- as a tool to help public health officials.

This hour, we talk with scientists studying our waste. Can our collective toilet flushing give public health officials a head start on detecting coronavirus outbreaks?

We hear from Yale researchers who have been testing New Haven sewage to track COVID-19 cases since March. That work was recently published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

We also hear from the mayor of Stamford about how wastewater data will shape that city’s public health response.

And we check in with Yale epidemiologist and Governor Lamont advisor Dr. Albert Ko. How should Connecticut prepare for a potential coronavirus surge this winter?

Courtesy: Colvin Family

Though music lovers may have few opportunities to perform together in person right now, it turns out that people of all ages are discovering or rekindling a passion for music making at home during the pandemic. 

Courtesy: Jonathan Jennings

It’s been seven months since a large event like a wedding has been permitted indoors in Connecticut. Jonathan Jennings, executive vice president of the Connecticut Wedding Group, said it’s time to change that. 

 

Cloe Poisson / CT Mirror

Only two families have received aid in the five months since state officials established a program to help those struggling to pay rent during the pandemic, leaving a backlog of nearly 7,400 applications and growing frustration about the slow pace of the approval process.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

A psychiatric facility in eastern Connecticut has been cited by federal workplace safety inspectors for alleged safety violations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed around $13,500 in penalties for Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield.

Jean lost her job as a school bus driver in Chicago during the pandemic. She was managing OK with unemployment money. But then, about two weeks ago, she got a desperate call from her adult son.

"His job had laid him off, and he wasn't able to pay rent," she says. There was an eviction moratorium in Chicago, but Jean says the landlord wanted her son out anyway.

She says the landlord got someone to threaten her son, and to shoot his dog — a German shepherd mix he'd had for years.

Voters in a number of swing states this November will have more leeway in getting their mail ballots back in time to count, should rule changes announced in the past week hold up to legal challenges. But the changes could delay the reporting of election results and possibly set up court fights down the line.

Updated at 1:37 p.m. ET

Amid criticism from Democrats that politics may be guiding decisions at the nation's top health agencies, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration told Congress on Wednesday that a coronavirus vaccine would not be approved until it met "vigorous expectations" for safety and effectiveness.

Tomwsulcer / Wikimedia Commons

Amid a lot of talk about whether K-12 kids should go back to the classroom is the disturbing truth that it increasingly seems as if there aren’t enough teachers to lead their classes. 

Mystic Aquarium Restructures For COVID — And Beyond

Sep 22, 2020
Mark Pazniokas / CT Mirror

A beluga whale glided to the edge of the platform overlooking its 750,000-gallon habitat and looked up, seemingly joining the Mystic Aquarium’s president, Stephen M. Coan, in greeting Gov. Ned Lamont and his economic adviser, David Lehman.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Less than a week after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, her vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court has set up what is sure to be a contentious battle among legislators on how to proceed.

However uncertain that process may be, the court is still set to hear arguments beginning a week after the presidential election for a case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. 

The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday — reaching what was once the upper limit of some estimates for the pandemic's impact on Americans. Some experts now warn that the toll could nearly double again by the end of 2020.

"I hoped we would be in a better place by now," said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "It's an enormous and tragic loss of life."

The NFL has fined several head coaches $100,000 for not wearing face masks on the sidelines — a safety precaution that is required at games during the COVID-19 pandemic. The coaches' teams were also punished, with $250,000 fines.

The coaches include Pete Carroll of Seattle, Kyle Shanahan of San Francisco and Vic Fangio of Denver, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. A league source confirmed details about the fines to NPR on Tuesday morning.

After a quiet summer where life largely returned to normal, England now faces new restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in the House of Commons on Tuesday morning that pubs, bars and restaurants in England must close at 10 p.m. He also encouraged people who are able to work from home to do so, reversing a previous government position.

David Usher, chief financial officer for a 12-bed rural hospital in western Kansas, is sitting on $1.7 million he's scared to spend.

The money lent from the federal government is meant to help hospitals and other health care providers weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet some hospital administrators have called it a payday loan program that is now brutally due for repayment at a time when the institutions still need help.

Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

Union officials are raising concerns that retail giant Amazon is unnecessarily exposing Connecticut residents to COVID-19 -- as well as taking jobs they believe should go to local workers.

Pandemic Deals Another Blow To Nursing Homes: Plummeting Occupancy

Sep 21, 2020
An employee at nursing facility Kimberly Hall South in Windsor visits with a resident through her window in May.
DAVE WURTZEL / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC / DAVE WURTZEL / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC

While the deadly coronavirus seems to be subsiding in Connecticut for now, its impact on nursing homes has not. More than 6,700 beds are empty, and it may take many months of financial struggle before occupancy climbs back to pre-pandemic levels.

Republicans are rejecting a short-term spending bill released Monday after Democrats chose not to include federal farm assistance in the legislation which is meant to avert a government shutdown at the end of September.

There has been bipartisan agreement for weeks on the need for a basic spending stopgap. The disagreement over the bill released Monday means lawmakers have less than two weeks to reach an agreement before federal funding runs out.

School buses
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

 

More than a dozen schools in Connecticut have gone remote in recent days as COVID-19 outbreaks flared up. Public health officials and school administrators spent the summer trying to craft plans that would avoid shutdowns and keep students in school as long as possible. Other schools seem set on staying open even if their plans don’t end up working out. 

The U.K.'s COVID-19 numbers are rising fast and could reach new 50,000 cases per day by mid-October, the country's top science adviser announced Monday. Sir Patrick Vallance said his warning is based on current trends that show "the epidemic is doubling roughly every seven days."

"There's no doubt we're in a situation where the numbers are increasing," Vallance said during an online briefing hosted by 10 Downing Street. The challenge now, he added, is to prolong the time it takes for infection rates to double.

Every year, Stephen Lim and his colleagues at the University of Washington compile and analyze health data from every country on the planet to come up with a sort of global report card.

Year after year, one of the biggest success stories has been the vaccination of children.

"We've really seen this steady progress in increasing the fraction of children who are receiving ... in particular, the basic vaccines — diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis," Lim says.

Heat lamps are up at Milestone in Redding for outdoor dining this fall
Ali Warshavsky / WNPR

As the seasons begin to change and the weather gets colder, restaurant owners are urging Gov. Ned Lamont to expand indoor dining and provide broader guidelines for indoor events. Otherwise, some say they won’t survive.

Clinical staff members coronavirus drive-through test
Joe Amon/Connecticut Public/NENC

Connecticut's coronavirus infection rate has risen to 1.6 percent -- after spending most of the summer under 1 percent.  Gov. Ned Lamont described the climbing number of positive tests as "concerning" this week, although the administration insists the resumption of in-person instruction in K-12 schools isn't behind the rise in cases.

Students get off a bus on the first day of school in Connecticut. The first few days will be about setting expectations for mask wearing and social distancing according to superindendents.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

The first day of school always comes with transition. But as districts across the state open up classrooms and laptops this year, back to school will require a different kind of adjustment given the ongoing pandemic. Superintendents say they have a new set of expectations for the first few weeks of school. 

coronavirus testing
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Some COVID-19 patients recover from the virus relatively quickly, but others have to deal with lingering or even new symptoms months after battling the virus. Ellie Stevenson of Norwalk says she is what’s called a long hauler.

As colleges around the U.S. are facing COVID-19 outbreaks and crackdowns on students engaged in coronavirus-risky behavior, campuses are also facing a new threat: legal challenges from the students they're punishing.

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