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Coronavirus

Nik Anderson / Creative Commons

The U.S. is on track to reach 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week. Yet, most states began reopening last week using data that may be undercounting how many people are currently infected. 

A group of friends hang out at Hammonasset Beach State Park Friday to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Connecticut State Parks filled with visitors under sunny skies Sunday after rain showers and clouds began the long Memorial Day weekend the day before. Restaurants across Connecticut welcomed diners outdoors during the first weekend since the state eased some COVID-19 restrictions.

COVID-19 Update: Connecticut DOT Gives A Boost To Outdoor Dining

May 23, 2020
Daniel Morrison / Flickr/Creative Commons

With rain and chilly temperatures, it wasn’t a good day for al fresco dining. But Gov. Ned Lamont announced Saturday the issuance of the first-of-its kind state permit: Mystic Pizza was granted permission to use a state highway right-of-way for outdoor dining.

Courtesy: Yale School of Public Health

On the same day the state partially reopened, Gov. Ned Lamont disbanded the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, the task force that had been charged with coming up with a plan to guide the state into a safe, methodical reopening. One of the co-chairs of that group was Dr. Albert Ko of the Yale School of Public Health.

Courtesy: Beardsley Zoo

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport plans to reopen on June 1 after closing to visitors back in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Connecticut Public Radio’s Morning Edition host, Diane Orson, spoke with zoo director Gregg Dancho.

Positive COVID-19 Trends Continue As Connecticut Heads Into Holiday Weekend

May 22, 2020
Cloe Poisson / CT Mirror

As the state headed into the Memorial Day weekend Friday, the number of people hospitalized in Connecticut for COVID-19 continued to decline — a “very positive” sign as this state’s economy starts to reopen, medical experts said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is clarifying its guidance to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, hoping to clear up confusion over whether a person can contract the disease by touching surfaces that have the virus on them. The agency said "usability improvements," including a headline change on its webpage about preventing viral infection, seemed to trigger news stories saying its guidelines have changed.

"Our transmission language has not changed," CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes told NPR.

Arasmus Photo / Creative Commons

Less than a month ago, a family member in Olga Gutierrez’s home in Bridgeport tested positive for COVID-19. But because she and her family are undocumented immigrants, Gutierrez said their options are limited.

“We were terrified,” she said. “We think we that we might have the virus, too. We have not been able to go to the doctor because we are uninsured and we do not have money to cover this.” 

Illustrative amendment by Chion Wolf
John William Waterhouse (1902) / Wikipedia

May 20th was the long-awaited date in Connecticut when the first phase of reopening began after the Coronavirus caused life as we know it to be put on hold. Offices and malls were allowerd to open with precautions; restaurants, museums and zoos could open outdoor areas as well.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

Federal workplace safety inspectors are investigating the death or hospitalization of at least three Connecticut elder care workers due to complications from COVID-19. 

The investigations come as union officials say at least six unionized nursing home employees have died from coronavirus. 

Budapest Operetta Theatre / Bartók Plusz Opera Festival

What we’ve all been through in this pandemic has sparked renewed interest in the work of 19th-century physician Ignaz Semmelweis. He is considered to be the first person to find a correlation between hand-washing and disease prevention.

Semmelweis’ discovery was the subject of a recent Google “doodle.” It’s also the basis of a 2018 chamber opera, which is currently streaming online.

Sujata Srinivasan

Connecticut lost a staggering 266,300 jobs in April — the first full month of coronavirus-related shutdowns — more than double the positions lost in 22 months during the last recession.

And while the department officially must report a 7.9% unemployment rate — which is based on a U.S. census-based survey — flaws in that process mean the effective rate is closer to 17.5%, Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said. The state reported a 3.7% jobless rate in March.

Mark Pazniokas / CT Mirror.org

In one of his most recent executive orders, Gov. Ned Lamont weighed in on the controversial question of absentee balloting. The governor says state residents can use fear of contracting COVID-19 as a reason to use an absentee ballot to vote in the presidential primary, now scheduled for Aug. 11. Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano has been vocal in his opposition to absentee balloting. He spoke with Connecticut Public Radio’s All Things Considered host, John Henry Smith.

Lamont Says It’s Time For The COVID Weary To Take A Breath. And Maybe A Hike

May 21, 2020
Gov. Ned Lamont briefing reporters at Gay City State Park with DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

The tone and substance of Gov. Ned Lamont’s daily COVID-19 briefing changed Thursday as he looked back on the sweeping restrictions he’s imposed since March and ahead to a Memorial Day weekend when saltwater beaches reopen for swimming.

John Billingsley / Vermont Public Radio

COVID-19 has driven New England’s higher education sector into financial "survival mode." Now colleges and universities must adapt or risk major — if not catastrophic — loss from the crisis.

Join us for an America Amplified special from the New England News Collaborative. We'll bring together voices from across the region, and we want to hear yours.

Steve Senne / AP Photo

Discrimination against Asian Americans has increased during the pandemic. An Ipsos Poll in April found 6 out of 10 Asian Americans said they observed COVID-19-related bias against Asians.

From rude comments to even violent assaults, anti-Asian racism is impacting many Asian Americans’ sense of safety, on top of the regular stresses of life during the pandemic.

Today, Where We Live, we talk about the impact of xenophobia during COVID-19.

Have you experienced anti-Asian comments or actions during the pandemic? Has that impacted your sense of security in your community?

U.S. Coast Guard Academy (screengrab)

The uncertainty of coronavirus forced the U.S. Coast Guard Academy to do something it’s never done -- commission officers virtually.

Tribal Casinos To Defy Lamont And Open June 1

May 20, 2020
Leroy Garcia, owner of Modern Shave barber shop in Waterbury, gives Robert Fields his first haircut in eight weeks in defiance of the governor’s executive orders at the State Capitol on Wednesday. Fields is a lobbyist for the Connecticut Barbers Associati
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Connecticut’s two sovereign tribal nations said Wednesday they will open Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun on June 1 over the strenuous objections of Gov. Ned Lamont as he tries to manage a gradual reopening of commerce.

West Farms Mall
Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

Westfarms Mall reopened Wednesday after closing in March because of the coronavirus. But for the steady stream of shoppers, it wasn’t quite the same experience they might remember pre-pandemic. The mall has over 100 shops but because each corporate office makes the decision for its own stores, fewer than 30 were open -- and that meant some shoppers left empty-handed.

barbershop haircut
Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public Radio

This story has been updated.

Cat Thibodeau opened the doors of Modern Barber and Shave Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. -- as she had consistently advertised on social media. 

And the line of at least six customers on her porch in Pawcatuck seemed to validate that decision.

“I’m feeling really good,” Thibodeau said. “I’m feeling excited to see my customers after a two-month hiatus, and catch up.”

The Country Diner
Frankie Graziano / Connecticut Public

Restaurants returned to serving dining customers Wednesday as part of phase one of Connecticut’s COVID-19 reopening plan.

In Enfield, “reopening day” marked the return of The Country Diner, a spot that’s been closed for the past two months.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Who would have guessed a face mask would become the latest cultural symbol of our identity, one more way to express our politics, our sense of style, and our deepest beliefs in what it means to be American.

Gov. Ned Lamont.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Connecticut’s continuing decline in the number of daily hospitalizations, as well as an uptick in testing capabilities, has both state officials and federal health experts confident that Wednesday’s reopening will be successful.

kaboompics.com

It’s not just restaurants and malls that can open up this week. Gov. Ned Lamont says offices can welcome workers back if they need to. But how many of us want to go, and is it really safe to do so? 

Food Safety Nets Are Straining Under Economic Meltdown

May 18, 2020
Weeks into the pandemic, people wait outside of the 164 Wilson Food Pantry for their numbers to be called to receive food. The pantry is part of the Wilson Memorial Church of God in Christ, Stamford.
Melanie Stengel / Connecticut Health I-Team

Beyond the gleaming office towers overlooking I-95 in Stamford and the pleasure boats that frequent the city’s marinas, thousands of city residents are struggling with hunger, a situation worsened by the pandemic.   

The global pandemic is putting a strain on Americans’ mental health. There’s been a surge of calls to crisis lines in the past two months. Add a spike in gun sales to that , and experts say we may be at risk of a suicide epidemic.

Tiny Montpelier, Idaho, may already be taking the brunt of pandemic fallout. In that town of just 2,500 and the surrounding Bear Lake Valley — a picturesque, remote corner of the state known for its namesake turquoise lake — there were five suicides in a three-week span of April. Another two deaths are being investigated.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

As the state’s businesses start to reopen this week, barbershops and hair salons will not be among them.

Both were initially slated for a May 20 reopening, but on Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont pushed that date back to June 1. 

Heather Hazzam / Wikimedia Commons

Connecticut will reopen some businesses on May 20, as coronavirus-related hospitalizations continue to decrease.

This may be good news for business owners and unemployed workers, and for those looking for a glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel.

It may be scary for people with greater risk for having severe illness from COVID-19 and front-line workers with greater exposure.

The bottom line is that we still don't fully understand this virus. And, not all of the 40 states set to reopen are prepared to scale up the testing, tracing, and isolating necessary to prevent a spike in the curve.

staying at home
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Even before the stay-at-home orders were officially issued in late March, Sarah Keitt had begun a two-week period of quarantine in her Fairfield home, isolated from her husband and two children. 

“It was lonely, it was painful to have basically no contact other than yelling up and down the stairs to people,” she said. 

Shanta Grant is a CTtransit bus driver in Stamford who’s scared to go to work during the pandemic -- especially when passengers don’t wear masks.

“We are essential workers, we are on the front line each and every day putting ourselves at risk,” Grant said, “putting our families at risk, and we deserve hazardous pay. We deserve to be accommodated for our work.”

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