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Coronavirus

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Pfizer is pushing back on the Trump administration's suggestion that the company is having trouble producing its COVID-19 vaccine, saying it's ready to ship millions more doses – once the government asks for them. As the company spoke out, several states said their vaccine allocations for next week have been sharply reduced.

Here's what the key players are saying about a complicated situation:

What Pfizer says

When they called to tell me my COVID-19 test was positive, I thought there must have been a mistake. I felt perfectly fine, and in the long months of the pandemic my husband, Jeff, and I had been behaving the way much of the United States had: hyper-vigilant about where we went and who we saw, and careful to follow the recommended public health precautions.

Hungarian-born scientist Katalin Karikó believed in the potential of messenger RNA — the genetic molecule at the heart of two new COVID-19 vaccines — even when almost no one else did.

Karikó began working with RNA as a student in Hungary. When funding for her job there ran out, Kariko immigrated to Philadelphia in 1985. Over the years, she's been rejected for grant after grant, threatened with deportation and demoted from her faculty job by a university that saw her research as a dead end.

Through it all, Karikó just kept working.

In a file photo, the Berlin train station at night.
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

COVID has changed the way we live, work, even move. This hour, we talk about the future of public transportation in Connecticut, with commuter advocate Jim Cameron. We also hear from the State Department of Transportation (DOT) public transit bureau chief.

Ridership has plummeted on rains and buses as many residents continue to work from home. This, even as Connecticut’s often-overlooked bus systems have been critical for many of the state’s essential workers to get to their jobs.

Will Connecticut’s mass transit system be able to recover from the economic toll of COVID?

All throughout high school, Brian Williams planned to go to college. But as the pandemic eroded the final moments of his senior year, the Stafford, Texas, student began to second-guess that plan.

"I'm terrible at online school," Williams says. He was barely interested in logging on for his final weeks of high school; being online for his first semester at Houston Community College felt unbearable.

"I know what works best for me, and doing stuff on the computer doesn't really stimulate me in the same way an actual class would."

Updated at 5:50 a.m. ET

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus and will quarantine for a week, his official residence announced Thursday.

Macron was tested for the virus following the onset of symptoms, though the Élysée Palace didn't immediately explain what those symptoms might include. He will isolate himself for seven days and will continue to work remotely, his residence said.

The Food and Drug Administration says that some of the vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being distributed throughout the U.S. contain extra doses and the agency is encouraging hospitals and clinics to use the additional shots to speed up the nationwide immunization campaign.

The agency issued the guidance Wednesday after health care workers reported throwing out the excess vaccine, fearing it would be against the rules to use it.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

In anticipation of potential COVID-19 surges in the coming weeks, state officials and health experts are expanding the Hartford region’s hospital bed capacity.

The state National Guard and the Department of Public Health in partnership with Hartford HealthCare are reopening a 600-bed field hospital at the Connecticut Convention Center. They say this is a precautionary move as numbers of cases and hospitalizations continue to generally trend upward. 

Consensus Building For COVID Aid To Connecticut Restaurants

Dec 16, 2020
Last summer, Sammy Bajraktarevic (right), owner of Luce Restaurant in Middletown, and server Alex Cirikovic set up socially distanced tables for a dining area in the restaurant’s parking lot as part of reopening amid the pandemic..
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

With the restaurant industry desperate for help, Gov. Ned Lamont told a business audience Wednesday that his administration is planning at least $25 million more in COVID-19 aid for small businesses in addition to the $50 million in grants now being processed.

Update at 12:27 p.m. ET

Congressional leaders are nearing an agreement on a roughly $900 billion COVID-19 relief package that is likely to include a fresh round of smaller stimulus checks, according to congressional aides familiar with the talks.

Negotiations are ongoing and nothing is finalized, but leaders were optimistic following a lengthy negotiating session on Tuesday night.

When Virginia Hedrick first heard about the coronavirus circulating on cruise ships off the coast of California back in March, it made her think back to some of the first ships of European settlers that arrived on American shores centuries ago, also teeming with disease.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

More shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived Tuesday at Connecticut hospitals, many of which began immediately vaccinating front-line workers.

That included Ivan Sarmiento, an emergency room registered nurse at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford, a member of Trinity Health Of New England. He was cheered on by colleagues as he became the first employee to get a dose shortly before noon. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

With the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine already here in Connecticut and the Moderna version reportedly close behind, the big question now is: Will enough of us actually take the vaccine? Recently, Yale infectious diseases specialist Dr. Manisha Juthani joined All Things Considered to talk about why we should not fear taking these new COVID vaccines.

High-ranking officials, including President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Pence, are making preparations to get the COVID-19 vaccine, hoping to instill trust and confidence in the vaccine ahead of its widespread distribution as the death toll climbs to new heights.

Pfizer ‘s coronavirus vaccine is expected to begin distribution in Connecticut in mid-December.
Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

Last February, in the early weeks of Connecticut’s legislative session, lawmakers intent on erasing the state’s religious exemption from mandatory vaccinations quickly rolled out a draft of their proposal, called a public hearing and voted the bill out of committee with a goal of making it one of the first to arrive on the House floor.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Surrounded by colleagues underneath a tent that protected them from the freezing rain, Dr. Ajay Kumar rolled up his sleeve as a nurse cleaned the upper part of his arm with an antiseptic wipe.

“Here we go, number one,” someone shouted. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Some 31,000 doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine arrived in Connecticut Monday -- a mere nine months after America and much of the world shut down due to the pandemic. Multiple experts have told us here at Connecticut Public Radio that vaccines usually take years to develop and that a key factor in expediting the novel coronavirus vaccine has been the over 40,000 people worldwide who have volunteered for clinical trials.

With nation's confirmed coronavirus infections surging, the NCAA announced Monday it plans to stage the entire Division I women's basketball tournament in one geographic area when it tips off in March.

Talks are already underway with officials in San Antonio to host the 64 teams that will compete in the single-elimination tournament.

NCAA officials said it aims to limit the spread of the virus by cutting down on the amount of travel required by teams.

At least 55 immunization sites across the U.S. received doses of Pfizer and BioNTech's long-awaited vaccine Monday morning, says Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed. The effort to get the vaccine into medical professionals' hands, he said, has gone "incredibly well."

Perna credited a number of people for the success, from volunteers who helped to test the vaccine to those who worked over the weekend to prepare, ship and deliver the doses, which must be stored at very cold temperatures to remain viable.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

The first people in the U.S. are receiving vaccination shots against COVID-19 on Monday, as U.S. health workers started administering the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The first widely publicized vaccination took place in New York City, shortly after 9 a.m. ET. The event was live-streamed and promoted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said, "The vaccine only works if the American people take it."

She's embarrassed to admit it, but there were moments over the summer when Adriana Kaplan almost forgot about the pandemic. In the beginning, the Philadelphia native had taken the coronavirus seriously: She had all her groceries delivered and worked her software engineering job from her South Philly home. For the first two months of the pandemic, she barely left the house.

COVID collection specialist Michelle Perez seals a vial after administering a test during Griffin Health's COVID-19 drive-thru testing site at Tunxis community college on November 12, 2020 in Farmington, Connecticut.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to quickly authorize the emergency use of a coronavirus vaccine after a panel of advisers voted in favor of it last night. By this time next week, some people in Connecticut will have received the first dose of the vaccine.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. ET

After facing a series of delays, the Senate approved by voice vote a one-week temporary funding measure Friday afternoon to avert a government shutdown hours before a critical deadline.

The president signed the bill Friday evening. Without it, federal agencies would have run out of money at midnight Friday.

The Senate's move came as Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, relented on his demands to vote first on a measure to allow direct payments to Americans.

Most mornings, Paulino Ramos sat under the small tree at the entrance of a busy Home Depot parking lot near Downtown Los Angeles. Other day laborers hanging around on the corner knew they could find their friend there, waiting in the shade for construction jobs. But in early September, they noticed Ramos, the sturdily built demolition worker, looked weak.

Cloe Poisson / CT Mirror

Some restaurant workers in Connecticut are planning a demonstration in front of the governor’s mansion to protest comments made by a Yale infectious disease specialist at a recent official coronavirus media briefing. Dr. Manisha Juthani said that indoor dining is too risky right now in this time of pandemic. 

Kathy Moore, left, talks to her sister-in-law Ann Marie Lagrange, of Windsor Locks, through the window at Manchester Manor. “I was heartbroken. I would come … three or four times a week, and I couldn’t see her,” she said.
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

The two nursing aides were supposed to start work at the Manchester Manor nursing home in early December, a welcome addition to a staff that has put in long hours under risky conditions and now faces a new wave of coronavirus cases.

Marylu Sarmiento of West Haven (center) joined dozens of other protesters in May calling for support for immigrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

The United States is inching closer to authorizing the use of a coronavirus vaccine. But even if Connecticut health care workers start receiving it as soon as this weekend, the general population shouldn’t expect it until later next year.

Updated at 8:22 p.m. ET

In a 17-4 vote, with one abstention, a panel of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech be authorized for emergency use during the coronavirus pandemic.

The vote in favor of the vaccine was taken to answer the agency's question: Do the benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its risks for use in people age 16 and older?

The agency typically follows the advice of its expert advisers.

With Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine poised for Food and Drug Administration authorization for emergency use, there's speculation about when the United States will buy another batch of doses — and whether the Trump administration already missed its chance.

Graeme Robertson / AP

After more than nine months of a pandemic that has sickened and killed millions worldwide, the United States is on the verge of obtaining its first federally reviewed COVID-19 vaccine.

The Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a group of independent scientists and researchers from institutions all over the country, will hold a public meeting today to discuss Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccine. 

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