Daily Coronavirus Updates | Connecticut Public Radio
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Daily Coronavirus Updates

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.

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.

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.

Some of the computers Bridgeport Public Schools received this summer to help students still learning at home.
LINDA CONNER LAMBECK / HEARST CT MEDIA

With most school districts in Connecticut requiring that students learn online at least part of the time, the Lamont administration announced Tuesday that 20,000 of the 81,000 students who need a laptop for classes will receive one in the next few weeks.

Efforts To Reduce COVID-19’s Spread Could Impact Health Outcomes For New Mothers And Infants

Sep 14, 2020
Felicia Tombascio and her daughter, Anastasia Marie Cordero.
handout photo / Connecticut Health I-Team

Felicia Tambascio’s first pregnancy was going fairly smoothly. But on July 20, at week 38, the 20-year-old Brookfield resident woke with horrible upper abdominal cramps, a searing headache, and vomiting. Her boyfriend took her to the hospital, but Tambascio was left to wait in a hallway alone. Per COVID-19 restrictions, no visitors were allowed unless the patient was admitted to labor and delivery. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

High school football players and their parents from across the state are urging the governing body of high school sports to change course and allow for a football season this year.

Thousands Wait Months For Unemployment Compensation During COVID

Sep 8, 2020
Jamie Kelo visits Avery Point Beach in Groton nearly every day as a way of managing stress. “When I come here, I feel like my problems go away. I can really focus,” Kelo said. “Because it’s just too much.”
YEHYUN KIM / CTMirror.org

When Jamie Kelo lost her $20,000-a-year job as a receptionist at a hair salon in New London after COVID-19 touched down in Connecticut, she thought she could rely on unemployment benefits to help cover some of her bills.

She was wrong.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

When Connecticut officials approved more than $34 million in contracts with private vendors to test for coronavirus at nursing homes, the contracts shared a common clause: The Department of Public Health wanted quick results, ideally, within one day.  But interviews with health officials, contracted vendors and state documents show that hasn’t always been the case.

Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

State public health officials said they’ll work to more aggressively test staff at nursing homes for COVID-19. But officials in the eldercare industry said Friday they’re still waiting for formal guidance on those changes from the state Department of Public Health. 

An inpatient treatment facility for substance abuse is the site of one recent COVID-19 outbreak in Danbury, according to the state Department of Public Health. 

A health care worker prepares to administer a nasal swab for a COVID-19 drive-by testing site
JOE AMON / CONNECTICUT PUBLIC/NENC

Connecticut public health officials have issued an alert to Danbury residents after what the state called a “significant spike” in new coronavirus cases.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

As state officials continue to investigate a COVID-19 outbreak at a nursing home in Norwich that killed one resident this month and hospitalized several more, one outstanding question is whether workers tested for COVID-19 were properly notified of their results.

A sign for coronavirus testing outside of a CVS drive-through in Hartford, Conn.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Pubic

Scientists at the Yale School of Public Health say they have developed a quick, affordable COVID-19 saliva test, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted it emergency-use authorization. It’s called SalivaDirect, and one of its project leaders is Anne Wyllie, an associate research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health. Wyllie spoke on All Things Considered about why this testing method is better than the swab method, the crucial role the NBA played in its development, and the price she and her team had to pay to make this dream a reality.

Pandemic Worsens 'Already Fragile' Situation for Homeless Youth, Young Adults

Aug 18, 2020
Residents of Malta House in Norwalk gather and play with their children.
Malta House Handout Photo

Johanna Vasquez, 19, and her 4-month-old baby ended up at Malta House in Norwalk as a result of an abusive relationship. Vasquez’s boyfriend hit her, she said, because he was home without a job and “was stressed.”

Report Offers Clues To What Went Wrong In Lethal COVID Outbreak In Nursing Homes

Aug 18, 2020
Some of the nursing staff at Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield in the early stages of the outbreak.
CTMirror.org

COVID-19 hit nursing homes in the Northeast states particularly hard, but those living in Connecticut long-term care facilities died more frequently than in any other state – a result of missteps by the state and a nursing home industry hamstrung by limited knowledge of the pathogen’s nature, how it spreads and to whom it posed the greatest risks.

Dave Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

Once a week outside a Newington nursing home, Peggy Johnson stands masked, 6 feet apart from her 94-year-old mom, imagining what it would be like to hug again. 

Henry Boulton, capacity monitor at a poll at Conard High School in West Hartford, gives an instruction to Elizabeth Davis who voted for the first time on Tuesday,
YEHYUN KIM / CTMirror.org

The top-line races were easy. Soon after the polls closed Tuesday night, the Associated Press declared Republican Donald J. Trump and Democrat Joe Biden winners of the year’s final presidential nomination contest, the twice-delayed Connecticut primary.

Power Outages Stoke Concern Over Possible Uptick In COVID Cases

Aug 9, 2020
Visitors gather to charge their electronic devices at the Westfarms shopping mall in West Hartford. Power outages after Tropical Storm Isaias have caused residents to visit public places where they can charge their devices, despite concern about COVID-19.
Yehyun Kim / CTMirror.org

As hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents adjusted to life without power last week, Gov. Ned Lamont praised the state’s COVID-19 statistics, pointing to days without recorded deaths and a low positivity rate among test results.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testifies before a House Select Subcommittee hearing on the Coronavirus, Friday, July 31, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Erin Scott / Pool via AP

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Connecticut is in a good place when it comes to the pandemic. 

As the COVID pandemic increases economic pain,  Connecticut homeowners are falling behind in paying their mortgages at a higher rate than those in most other states.

According to Black Knight, a firm that provides lenders and mortgage servicers with data and analytics, 9.39% of Connecticut’s 571,513 mortgages were delinquent at the end of June, compared to 7.6% nationally.

The San Marino Ristorante Italiano restaurant in Waterbury has brought back about half of its business, but La Bella Vista banquet hall, about 5 miles away, has struggled with indoor gathering capacity limits.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

Tony D’Elia owns San Marino Ristorante Italiano and La Bella Vista in Waterbury. One’s a restaurant, one’s a banquet hall. And he's among the many restaurant owners pushing to increase the capacity of indoor and outdoor dining in the state.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Neil Gilman makes football tackling dummies for a living. But when the pandemic hit, he had to get creative to save his business. He figured he’d try making medical gowns. And he started sending emails.  

Socially Distanced Senate Passes No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Bill

Jul 28, 2020
Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, argued that minimizing crowds at the polls by allowing people to vote by absentee ballot contributes to public safety.
YEHYUN KIM / CTMirror.org

Meeting for the first time since COVID-19 forced the closure of the State Capitol in March, the Connecticut Senate voted 35-1 Tuesday for final passage of legislation allowing no-excuse absentee ballot voting as a public health precaution in November.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly five months since Connecticut had it’s first coronavirus diagnosis in the state.

This hour, Connecticut Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford joins us to discuss where we are now.

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

President Trump on Wednesday placed much of the blame for the swell in coronavirus cases on recent demonstrations against racism and police brutality, ignoring in large part his administration's push to reopen the national economy before the virus had been fully contained.

President Trump took to the White House briefing room on Tuesday to praise his administration's response to the virus that has killed more than 140,000 Americans so far. In a reversal of his recent statements and tone, he acknowledged the severity of the pandemic and urged Americans to comply with preventative measures.

"It will likely unfortunately get worse before it gets better," Trump said in uncharacteristically somber remarks, encouraging Americans to social distance, practice good hygiene and wear masks.

Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jonathan Berlier / U.S. Navy photo

Governor Lamont promised free coronavirus testing for all Connecticut residents who want one. This hour, who’s footing the bill for coronavirus testing and how much does it really cost? Connecticut Public Reporter Patrick Skahill joins us to talk about his reporting on this.

Total coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have surpassed 140,000, reaching somber new heights as surging cases continue to break records in parts of the country and around the world.

A sign for coronavirus testing outside of a CVS drive-through in Hartford, Conn. COVID-19 testing is being offered at CVS drive-throughs across the state, but the company says high demand has lead to backlogging in testing results.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont was joined by a national health expert Thursday to say that plans are moving ahead for Connecticut schools to open in September as COVID-19 cases surge elsewhere -- but there’s a real possibility that students could return to distance learning after the first months of the year. 

Volunteer Bernie Grant stands in the parking lot of the Naugatuck Senior Center where he meets the people he will be filing taxes for through the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.
Ali Oshinskie / Connecticut Public Radio

The Naugatuck Senior Center closed on March 13 because of the pandemic -- and with it, VITA, or the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. Bernie Grant, who’s been the volunteer site coordinator in Naugatuck for 13 years, had hoped the senior center would open back up in short order.

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