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Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package facing a U.S. Senate vote includes funding for states and local communities to tackle behavioral health and addiction after record-level drug overdose deaths nationwide in 2020.

At a virtual roundtable Monday with Connecticut addiction prevention and treatment providers, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he hopes additional money will help boost on-the-ground efforts. 

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. 

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. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

An overwhelming number of people signed up to testify Tuesday during what was expected to be a contentious public hearing on school vaccination requirements -- so many that lawmakers, by a majority vote, decided to cap the duration of the virtual hearing at 24 hours.

The limit was criticized by several Republican members of the state Public Health Committee, as well as those who testified throughout the day. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Connecticut has so far administered nearly half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to eligible residents and workers, but emerging data on the vaccine rollout in individual towns and cities indicate early signs of inequity.

It’s why local health providers, community advocates and leaders are working together to identify residents who are being missed, particularly people in underserved populations within larger cities. In Hartford, collaborators are undertaking more targeted approaches to vaccine education, messaging and accessibility. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

New state data revealing town-by-town COVID-19 vaccination coverage shows that the rollout in some areas of Connecticut is happening at a faster rate than in others.

The preliminary numbers confirm what some public health experts and health equity advocates have suspected all along, which is that vulnerable and underserved communities, including Black and brown neighborhoods already suffering high infection and mortality rates, are at risk of falling through the cracks. 

Stacy Fields, a registered nurse with Yale New Haven Health and health chair at the Greater New Haven NAACP, talks to people in the community about getting a flu vaccine through Yale's School of Medicine's Community Health Care Van, Fri., Dec. 11, 2020.
Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Health providers and hospitals at this time of year would typically see rising numbers of patients coming in with fever, cough, sore throat and body aches -- classic symptoms of the flu.

“In a bad year, hundreds by this time,” said Keith Grant, director of infection prevention at Hartford HealthCare.

But this is far from a normal year. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

A small team of nurses and support staff set up tables and medical supplies inside the Open Hearth homeless shelter for men in Hartford.

Shelter clients and employees, all masked, lined up to register at a check-in table. Geriann Gallagher, an advanced practice registered nurse, brought clients over one at a time to her vaccination station. Austin Anglin, 67, sat down. 

A high school boy studies with a volunteer teacher at his home, in an iron lung provided by the New Haven Hospital (c. 1943)
courtesy of the Yale New Haven Hospital Archives

It was a plague that came every summer and left thousands of American children paralyzed -- or dead -- in its wake. This hour we take a look at the legacy of polio.

How did the development of the polio vaccine change the course of history?

Sodanie Chea / Creative Commons

State lawmakers want to ban all flavored tobacco and e-cigarette products for good this legislative session to cut off their popularity with kids and teens.

Anti-smoking and public health advocates hope the bill will ultimately reduce vaping and tobacco addiction among youth, as well as address some racial health disparities. 

The Legacy Of COVID-19

Jan 19, 2021
Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Yale University's Dr. Nicholas Christakis explores what it means to live in a time of pandemic. He looks at historical epidemics and current medical and social research to help us understand the potential long-term impact COVID-19 will have on people and culture. 

Greek mythology holds that the arrows of plague Apollo shot down upon the Greeks led to great death and suffering. The plague that has brought death and pain over this past year was not brought by an angry god, but an infinitesimal virus that has wreaked global havoc and exposed the best and worst of human behavior. 

We spend an informative and insightful hour with Nicholas Christakis. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

In early March, Vic Gara came down with severe muscle aches, headaches and a rising blood pressure, indicators of COVID-19 that weren’t well understood early on in the pandemic.

“Taking a shower, just the water hurt my body,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep. I slowly became hypoxic. I just couldn’t breathe.” 

Eventually, he was admitted to Hartford Hospital, where he was quarantined immediately and separated from his wife, Laura. 

In a series of changes to initial guidelines, Trump administration officials announced Tuesday that states should vaccinate all residents 65 years and older sooner rather than later.

Federal health officials are also encouraging states to expand the next phase of vaccine distribution to all adults who have preexisting conditions that put them at an increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

Alex Liivet, Flickr Creative Commons / edited by Chion Wolf


There’s not a lot of great headlines in the news lately. Y’know, between a contentious election, rioting in the Capitol, a raging pandemic, and lots and lots of dangerous misinformation.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Two New Haven County residents under the age of 25 years old have tested positive for a new, more transmissible variant of SARS-CoV-2, the type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Medical experts say this variant, scientifically labeled B.1.1.7 and first discovered in the United Kingdom, appears to spread more easily and quickly. But the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that “there is no evidence that it causes more severe illness or increased risk of death.” 

A Hartford HealthCare worker administers a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Transportation workers, mail carriers, teachers, first responders, grocery store employees and others are positioned to be the next groups of people eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in Connecticut.

State officials said during a public meeting Tuesday that the state’s Phase 1B vaccination distribution could begin as early as this month and include up to 800,000 workers and residents. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Luz Morales was working as a certified nursing assistant at RegalCare at Waterbury, a nursing home, when she fell ill with COVID-19.

At home, her 70-year-old mother, Nicia, looked in on her. 

A Hartford HealthCare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

Several national polls and surveys show that a growing number of people are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it’s their turn.

But with vaccine supply limited in the first weeks and months of distribution, Connecticut will have to prioritize exactly who comes next in line after hospital employees, health workers and people in long-term care facilities. 

AP Pool

Nine grueling months into the pandemic, nursing home workers and operators say they’re feeling some relief with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Everybody wants to get back to the lives we had before, so the vaccine is a great step toward that,” said Sophia Walker, a registered nurse at The Reservoir nursing home in West Hartford.

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. 

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

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. 

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

At almost 16 years old, Emma Heslin knew very little about any type of diabetes. But then she was diagnosed with Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes.

“You’re like, what is that, what does that mean?” said Heslin, now a 22-year-old registered nurse. “So, you’re not going into it knowing it’s lifelong.” 

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. 

SIPA VIA AP IMAGES

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. 

TYLER RUSSELL / Connecticut Public

Beginning Monday, Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks will add a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site open to travelers and all other community members.

The Connecticut Airport Authority is partnering with Hartford HealthCare to run the site in parking Lot 3 off Schoephoester Road. This will be the health organization’s ninth permanent testing location in the state. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

When Debra O’Neall gets home from her overnight shift at a nursing home in Danbury, she removes her scrubs and jumps in the shower before she does anything else.

Later, she settles in on the sofa, turns on the news, picks up a sketchbook from the coffee table and begins to draw.  

Tyler Russell / Connecticut Public

The timeline on a COVID-19 vaccine is generally unknown, but whether one is approved this year or the next, Wizdom Powell said it won’t help much if Black residents lack confidence in its safety and effectiveness.

“There’s so many stories of Black folks surrendering their bodies to medical institutions and coming out worse after,” said Powell, who is director of the Health Disparities Institute at UConn Health. 

Sipa via AP Images

With few answers on how and when a COVID-19 vaccine will actually be available, Connecticut has submitted a draft plan to the federal government on how it will execute statewide mass vaccination.

The 77-page document, submitted to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the Oct. 16 deadline, outlines potential groups of people who would receive priority status for getting doses early on and how the state will coordinate vaccine administration by medical providers. 

Illustration by Chion Wolf

Imagine feeling like you have glass shards running through your blood, and imagine your doctors don’t believe how much pain you’re in.

Then, imagine you’re in a different body, incapable of feeling any pain at all.

Then, in body number three, you inflict pain on yourself so you can rate it. For science.

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