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It was supposed to be a "cruise to nowhere," a chance for travelers to enjoy ornate buffets and onboard skydiving simulations, taking in the sea air as they follow COVID-19 safety precautions. Then, Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas was forced to return to port early after a passenger tested positive for the coronavirus.

A medical worker talks to a man going through the testing process at Connecticut's first COVID-19 rapid testing center in New Haven back in April.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are surging across the country and here in Connecticut. Just in this state, the number of people hospitalized has more than doubled in the last month. That surge is leading to concern about the capacity at hospitals to treat those with the coronavirus.

COVID collection specialist Michelle Perez swabs a visitor while being 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/NENC

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has been coordinating closely with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. So far, Lamont has resisted imposing the types of lockdowns instituted early in the pandemic like banning indoor dining, but Cuomo is threatening to do that in his state.

Rhoda Baer/National Cancer Institute / Creative Commons

Pfizer may receive emergency approval from the FDA this week, but who’s in line to get the COVID-19 vaccine first?

This hour, we talk with members of Connecticut’s Vaccine Advisory Group, including co-chair Dr. Reginald Eadie. He’s one of the leaders who’s planning how COVID-19 vaccines will be stored and distributed in our state in the coming weeks and months.

We also talk with Tekisha Dwan Everette, a health equity expert who’s a member of the vaccine group. Given the disparate impact COVID has had on racial and socioeconomic groups, how will Connecticut give out the vaccine fairly?

Are you one of the people who may be eligible to be vaccinated later this month? Will you get it?

We want to hear from you. What questions do you have about the COVID vaccine?

New data released by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday gives the most detailed picture to date of how COVID-19 is stressing individual hospitals in the United States.

The information provides nationwide data on hospital capacity and bed use at a hospital-by-hospital level. This is the first time the federal agency has released the COVID-19 hospital data it collects at the facility level. Previously, HHS released data aggregated at the state level only.

Margaret Keenan, a grandmother of four, made history Tuesday after getting a potentially lifesaving birthday present.

With one shot — or "jab" as Britons might say — Keenan, who turns 91 next week, officially launched the United Kingdom's nationwide coronavirus immunization campaign — the largest such effort in its history.

Minority Businesses: Wounded By COVID, But Key To Inclusive Revival

Dec 7, 2020
Tia Woods makes a breakfast during her night shift. She now has a mentor helping  her learn how to improve her business when she opens online. “What can I do better to make sure that my business doesn’t close again?” Woods asked herself.
Yehyun Kim /

Tia Woods had been the coordinator of a dance program. It closed but left her with space in East Hartford. She had a business idea: Woods, who is Black, knew many minority artisans needed space to show and sell their products.

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

It’s a century-old holiday tradition that is struggling during the pandemic. Sergeant Anthony Rivera of the Stamford Salvation Army Corps says the organization usually has nine bell ringers throughout the city, but this year it has only three.

Updated at 2:15 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday selected Dr. Rochelle Walensky to run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when his administration takes office next month.

Walensky teaches at Harvard Medical School and is an infectious disease physician at both Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, according to her biography on the former hospital's website.

South Korea is awaiting new social distancing measures, due to take effect Tuesday evening, as earlier measures have failed to bring new coronavirus case numbers down. The government warns of an impending crisis, brought on by a third wave of infections.

New cases reported Monday exceeded 600 for the second day in a row, bringing the total to more than 38,000, with about 550 deaths.

Roger Cohen, a former columnist and current Paris bureau chief for The New York Times, longs for a return to decency - a moral shift away from a Trump Presidency characterized by retreat, self-obsession, and a lack of respect for truth or decency.

He welcomes the tenor he anticipates President-elect Biden will bring to the White House, but cautions against a return to the status quo. Too much has changed that still threatens liberalism and the Western alliance. 

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced the team he would like to lead his response to the nation's greatest public health crisis in a century once he takes office in January.

When COVID-19 restrictions reduced his work schedule at the National Institutes of Health, Sam Smith decided to turn to another time-consuming job: applying to medical school.

He'd always wanted to go into medicine, but what was happening in the world had a big impact on the kind of medicine he hopes to practice. Now Smith wants to specialize in infectious diseases.

The experience of the past year "makes me think, there's probably going to be another pandemic" in the future, said Smith, 25. "So I want to be on the front lines of the next one."

Updated at 5:07 p.m. ET

President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the president. Trump made the announcement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon.

In the best of times, service industry workers are typically paid below the minimum wage and rely on tips to make up the difference. Now, those still working in an industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic are on the front lines, enforcing COVID-19 safety measures at the expense of both tip earnings and avoiding harassment.

Senator Richard Blumenthal calls the bipartisan COVID relief package a "downpayment" and hopes for another package in the early weeks of the Biden Administration.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy spoke at the Capitol Friday about a proposed bipartisan COVID relief package, endorsing the $908 billion in aid but saying more is needed. Both senators see it as a stopgap and say they expect a second deal to come in the early weeks of the Biden presidency.

Blumenthal said inaction makes the stakes high.

“Connecticut is spending about $20 million a week, $20 million a week on testing,” Blumenthal said. “That money runs out at the end of this year. There’s no immediate source for additional funding.”

Lamont To Leverage $55M In Federal Aid To Assist Poor Unemployed

Dec 4, 2020
Gov. Ned Lamont
Mark Pazniokas /

Gov. Ned Lamont announced an expansion Friday of unemployment eligibility rules expected to channel more than $1,800 this winter to each of about 38,000 residents, most of whom lost low-paying jobs.

By spending $7.5 million from the state unemployment trust — which is already in debt — to slightly boost state benefits to those residents, Connecticut could leverage $55 million in additional federal benefits for its jobless.

The U.K. will administer its first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, government and health officials say, raising hopes that the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech could help them tame the coronavirus.

"We're looking forward to the race starting on Tuesday," Chris Hopson, CEO of the U.K.'s NHS Providers, said Friday in an interview with the BBC. His organization represents hospitals and medical service groups.

Updated at 9:24 a.m. ET

U.S. employers sharply scaled back their hiring last month as the coronavirus pandemic put new pressure on restaurants, retailers and other businesses.

The Labor Department said Friday that employers added just 245,000 jobs in November, down from a revised 610,000 in October.


Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public Radio

Restaurants are among the small businesses that are struggling. And even though the state hasn’t shut down many sectors this COVID wave, some small businesses are considering whether to close for good.

This hour, we talk with David Lehman, the Commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

Updated at 11:58 a.m. ET

After months of partisan standoff on Capitol Hill over the size and composition of another round of coronavirus relief, key signs of progress emerged as the House and Senate moved closer to a possible deal.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke by telephone Thursday afternoon — notable because the two top leaders hadn't spoken about legislation addressing the pandemic since the election.

First Doses Of COVID Vaccine Could Be Administered In CT In Mid-December

Dec 3, 2020
Matthew Lotz / U.S. Air Force

About 380,000 health care workers, nursing home residents and first responders will have received the first doses of an experimental new coronavirus vaccine by late January, Gov. Ned Lamont estimated on Thursday, offering the first timeline of an immunization rollout in Connecticut that could begin in mid-December.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Joe Courtney, Connecticut’s 2nd District congressman, has returned to work after a bout with COVID-19. He recently joined All Things Considered, and after he updated us on his condition, Courtney talked about the elevation of his colleague, 3rd District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, to chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

And he talked policy. Will President Trump veto a pay raise for our troops? What’s holding up coronavirus stimulus money? And why did Connecticut lose out on a new C-130 wing at Bradley Air National Guard Base?

Hear the interview below:

No U.S. city suffered more in the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic than New York City, where more than 24,000 people died, mainly in the spring. Medical workers in New York learned exactly how difficult and dangerous things can get when hospitals are overwhelmed, and now they are bracing themselves as infections begin to rise again.

Ingmar Riveros (left) and Peruvian refugee Xiomy De la Cruz (right) serve 150 families from their food pantry in a store basement in Hartford on Nov. 19. Many of the families are undocumented and severely impacted by the pandemic.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Early in the pandemic, Xiomy De la Cruz was working at a fast-food restaurant when her work hours were cut back. She is a Peruvian refugee and a single mother with two children and another on the way. Like many families, she found herself in various pantry lines to make ends meet.

Who better to promote a product than a former president? How about three?

Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are willing to lend their star power for a good cause, saying this week that they would publicly take a coronavirus vaccine, once it's available in the U.S., to encourage skeptical Americans to do the same.

Obama said that if Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert, thought the vaccine was safe and effective, then he would get his shot.


The federal government could grant emergency use authorization to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as next week, potentially getting doses in the hands of Connecticut hospitals by mid-December.

While official statewide distribution plans are still being finalized, health providers do know enough about the upcoming vaccines in order to take some immediate steps in preparation, with little time to spare. 

Hospital leaders say they are better prepared for this second wave of coronavirus cases but they disagree on in ways in which it will be easier than the first wave.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public Radio

Data show the average length of stay in Connecticut hospitals for COVID-19 patients is about half of what it was in the summer. The Connecticut Hospital Association says COVID patients spent an average of 15 days in the hospital in June. By October, that number had fallen to 7 1/2 days.

Isabel Orozco, one of the college students to volunteer as a substitute teacher, and Gov. Ned Lamont outside the Capitol on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Mark Pazniokas /

Connecticut’s seven-day rolling average of positive COVID-19 tests edged upward to 4.9 percent on Tuesday, reversing a downward trend that saw a drop from a peak of 5.8 percent 11 days ago to 4.7 percent on Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont said.

Updated at 4:52 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer say a $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal should be the starting point for bipartisan aid.

It is the first time Pelosi, D-Calif., and Schumer, D-N.Y., have accepted any COVID-19 legislation other than the $2.2 trillion bill that passed the House of Representatives in October. But their shift to the moderates' plan comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already rejected the bipartisan proposal.