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In a unanimous 22-0, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson be authorized for emergency use in adults during the pandemic.

The vote in favor of the vaccine, which requires only one shot for protection, was taken to answer this question: Do the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people 18 years of age and older.

Vaccinations continue across Connecticut with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Friday that a total of 1,190,995 doses have been distributed to the state and 954,153 doses have been administered.

So far, about 18.2% of Connecticut’s population has received at least one vaccine dose and 8.2% are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

The COVID-19 relief bill working its way through Congress is full of big ideas to help people. But there's one idea that's so big, it was politically unthinkable not that long ago.

President Biden and Democratic lawmakers want to fight child poverty by giving U.S. families a few hundred dollars every month for every child in their household — no strings attached. A kind of child allowance.

If this proposal survives the wrangling in Congress and makes it to Biden's desk, experts say it could cut child poverty nearly in half.

Hospitals’ ‘Team Effort’ Reduces Number Penalized For High Infection Rates, Injuries

Feb 25, 2021
The Hospital Central Connecticut is one of only 6 CT hospitals to be financially penalized.
THOCC.org

Six Connecticut hospitals will lose 1 percent of their Medicare reimbursements this fiscal year under a federal program that levies penalties for high rates of hospital-acquired injuries and infections.

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Connecticut’s vaccine supply is about to get a big boost with the arrival of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The federal Food and Drug Administration could approve the new vaccine for emergency use as soon as Friday. And if it does, Gov. Ned Lamont says the state will get 30,000 doses next week.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Disability Rights Connecticut has filed a complaint with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights over the state’s new age-based vaccine policy.

The U.S. is still ramping up its vaccination program, hoping to finally clamp down on the COVID-19 pandemic. But even as vaccine doses are being rolled out, their makers are exploring several strategies to bolster them, hoping to protect people against worrying new variants that have sprung up in recent months, from South Africa to the U.K.

A pregnant woman
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Scientists and researchers have been talking about COVID-19 vaccines since last spring when the virus first surged through communities. But the timeline for development was really unknown.

“So it was there in my mind, but it wasn’t something I was counting on in terms of protection or timing with pregnancy,” said Samantha Morris. 

January 22, 2021: Resident Austin Anglin 67, is given the vaccine by Nurse Practitioner Geriann Gallagher as Hartford HealthCare launched a mobile vaccine clinic to get the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable populations starting at The Open Hearth in Hartford
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Grocery store employees and other essential workers had expected to soon be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Now, Governor Lamont says the state’s vaccination plan will focus on age groups.

Today, we talk with Dr. Deidre Gifford, Acting Commissioner of the state Department of Public Health.  We ask: how does this new plan impact vaccine equity?

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

When Gov. Ned Lamont announced he was switching to an age-based vaccine rollout plan going forward, he made a carve-out for teachers and child care workers to jump to the head of the line. They’ll be eligible to sign up for an appointment on March 1 along with folks over the age of 55.

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. 

Chinese pharmaceutical makers are seeking market approval from Beijing for two new coronavirus vaccines – one that has shown 72% efficacy and another 69% efficacy in human Phase III trials.

The separate announcements on Wednesday come from Sinopharm for its second vaccine after the state-run company's first was approved for distribution in December, and from CanSino Biologics, Inc. (CanSinoBIO), for its first vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration released an analysis of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning that supports its authorization for emergency use.

On Friday, a panel of advisers to the agency will meet to evaluate the vaccine and make a recommendation about whether it should be given the OK. If the agency goes on to authorize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it would be the third, after those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, to become available in the U.S.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin speaks at a press conference announcing the opening of a neighborhood vaccine clinic at the Parker Memorial Community Center in the North End of Hartford.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin discusses coronavirus’ impact on students in Hartford, and vaccination efforts.  What does the governor's plan to focus more on age in vaccine distribution mean for people of color and low-income people in Hartford?

The mayor also has new responsibilities on his plate: Pushing for high speed rail in the region and leading the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, an organization of cities and towns.


In early December, Dr. Katy Stephenson was watching TV with her family and scrolling through Twitter when she saw a tweet that made her shout.

"I said 'Oh my God!' " she recalls. "Super loud. My kids jumped up. My husband looked over. He said, 'What's wrong, what's wrong, is everything OK?' I was like, 'No, no, it's the opposite. It's amazing. This is amazing!' "

When the school district in Pima, Ariz., got its first round of federal pandemic relief last summer, Superintendent Sean Rickert put it toward the expenses incurred while suddenly shifting classes online at the start of the pandemic.

Now, as some Republicans in Congress question why COVID-19 aid for schools has not yet been spent, Rickert is just learning how much his district will get from a second relief bill approved in December.

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. 

Connie French, of Vernon, turns her head away as Community Health Centers worker Nadya Gonzalez gives her the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont says the state is moving to an age-based vaccine rollout plan. That means essential workers and those with comorbidities are no longer next in line -- except, that is, for teachers and child care workers.

Tony Spinelli / Connecticut Public

Kim Steinberg had already registered her business in January on the state’s website so she could get her employees vaccinated. Now most won't qualify until May. 

Connecticut Touts Real Estate Boom Stemming From Pandemic

Feb 23, 2021
Fuse / Thinkstock

Thousands of new residents have come to Connecticut during the coronavirus pandemic with workers in New York, Boston and elsewhere looking to relocate as they work from home, the state’s economic development officials said.

The pandemic is causing The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to consider selling its artwork to cover operational costs as it falls short of $150 million in revenue.

The country's flagship art museum has still not made a final decision on selling its work.

In 2001, Maurine Murenga was pregnant and HIV-positive. She was living in Kenya, and a counselor encouraged her to fill out a memory book. She wrote directions to her village, details about her family so that when she died, someone would know where to bury her and where to send her child.

"It was nothing like preparing," says Murenga. "It was actually preparing us for death."

Updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

President Biden and Vice President Harris acknowledged a grim milestone Monday: the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans from COVID-19.

Biden and Harris, along with first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, emerged from the White House at sundown. They stood at the foot of the South Portico, covered in 500 candles honoring the dead, and listened to a Marine Corps band play "Amazing Grace" as they held a moment of silence.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

As the U.S. passes the grievous marker of 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19, President Joe Biden will order flags on federal property to be lowered at half staff for five days to mark the solemn milestone, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Monday briefing.

Biden will commemorate the people who died at a Monday evening ceremony, joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. The event will include remarks, a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence, according to Psaki.

Breaking With National Recommendations, Lamont Says Conn.'s Vaccine Rollout Will Proceed By Age

Feb 22, 2021
Seniors 75 and over wait 15 minutes in an observation area after receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Connecticut Convention Center.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday he is throwing out the state’s current playbook for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout – which had prioritized people with underlying medical conditions and certain types of workers, such as grocery store and agricultural employees – and is shifting to a system that is strictly age-based, with the next round of shots open to people who are 55 to 64 beginning March 1.

Report: Twice As Many Conn. High Schoolers Are In Danger Of Being Held Back

Feb 22, 2021
A classroom is set up for the fall semester at Middletown High School. There will be an empty desk between two students. High school students will have to carry their desk shield assigned to them when moving to another class.
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

Research released Monday confirms what many parents and educators already suspected — more students than ever are falling behind during the pandemic, a problem especially present among those learning entirely from home in some of the state’s larger districts.

Medical Providers Are Taking Nature Therapy Seriously

Feb 22, 2021
Meghan Casey, left, a nursing and public health student at Yale, and Amanda E. DeCew, an advanced practice registered nurse in pediatrics at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven, go for a lunchtime walk along Quinnipiac River Trail.
Melanie Stengel

Schools were closed and online learning was in full swing last March when a teenager and her mom arrived at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven. 

The girl had been experiencing chest pains and her worried mother thought she should go to the emergency room, recalled Amanda DeCew, a Fair Haven clinic director and pediatric nurse.

How do we wrap our minds around the fact that nearly half a million people have died of COVID-19 in the United States alone?

The nation is on the cusp of that milestone: 500,000 lives lost, in just one year.

When COVID-19 first arrived in the U.S., Jodee Pineau-Chaisson was working as the director of social services for a nursing home in western Massachusetts. By the middle of April, residents at the Center for Extended Care in Amherst were getting sick.

In the midst of a pandemic that is taxing medical workers like never before, a doctor in a Los Angeles hospital turned a camera toward his colleagues.

Dr. Scott Kobner is the chief emergency room resident at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. He's also an amateur photographer. His black-and-white photos show the suffering, anxiety and chaos unfolding in overrun COVID-19 units.

It was a couple months into the pandemic that Kobner started taking pictures of scenes from his own hospital.

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