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The first people are brought in as the City of Hartford’s Department of Health and Human Services hosted a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Hartford residents 75 and over at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut on February 06, 2021.
Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

The pandemic has put public health in the spotlight across the world. But in the United States local public health departments have been chronically underfunded, and Connecticut is no exception.

This hour, we hear from a local health director about the challenges public health departments in Connecticut are facing, even as the state celebrates high vaccination rates compared with other states.

And, we look beyond the pandemic: what should the public health workforce of the future look like?

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public

When Gov. Ned Lamont announced he was switching to an age-based vaccine rollout plan going forward, he made a carve-out for teachers and child care workers to jump to the head of the line. They’ll be eligible to sign up for an appointment on March 1 along with folks over the age of 55.

The state’s chief medical examiner said Wednesday his office identified more than 100 deaths that should have been reported as COVID-19-related, including dozens originally certified as non-COVID fatalities. 

Medical Providers Are Taking Nature Therapy Seriously

Feb 22, 2021
Meghan Casey, left, a nursing and public health student at Yale, and Amanda E. DeCew, an advanced practice registered nurse in pediatrics at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven, go for a lunchtime walk along Quinnipiac River Trail.
Melanie Stengel

Schools were closed and online learning was in full swing last March when a teenager and her mom arrived at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven. 

The girl had been experiencing chest pains and her worried mother thought she should go to the emergency room, recalled Amanda DeCew, a Fair Haven clinic director and pediatric nurse.

Yehyun Kim / CT Mirror

When Gov. Ned Lamont got his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week, he asked local leaders to go to communities of color and tell them to “step up and do the right thing.”

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public/NENC

The latest vaccination data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that some New England states are vaccinating against COVID-19 quicker than others, with Connecticut currently ranking as one of the top states in the U.S. and the top in New England.

New England states ranked by the percentage of people who have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose:

David Wurtzel / Connecticut Public

Gov. Ned Lamont this week announced he’ll end an executive order that had extended civil immunity to Connecticut nursing homes and long-term care facilities during the pandemic.

Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public

Nate Walpole steadied his hand, readied his needle and issued a friendly warning. 

“Sir, big poke!” Walpole said, holding the syringe in place for a few seconds before quickly pulling it out and tapping it on a nearby table, protective plastic flipped up over the needle.

On this particular day, the syringe contains only saline, injected into a pillow held in place on a classmate’s shoulder. But soon, it will be the real deal: the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Stewart Black / Creative Commons

Applications to nursing schools spiked during the pandemic from those who wanted to help. They chose to be nurses at a time when the risk to their own health was never greater. Why are some people willing to run toward the fire when others are running away from it?

Most of us fall somewhere on a spectrum of altruistic behavior. We might adopt a stray pet, donate a liter of blood, or check on an older neighbor. Others pursue a career based on helping others, and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, some choose to donate their kidney to a stranger. 

We talk to two nurses, a kidney donor, and a psychologist about the nature of altruism.

John Amis / Associated Press

Connecticut lawmakers will again consider a controversial bill that would get rid of religious exemptions from vaccinations for schoolchildren.

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?

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

Bridgeport has lost its top health official as the state battles COVID-19’s second wave. This hour, we talk with Connecticut Post reporter Brian Lockhart about the vacancy in the health department of the state’s largest city.

And later, some Connecticut residents over the age of 75 will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. Does Connecticut have the right tools in place to reach seniors?

We talk with Department of Public Health Acting Commissioner Deidre Gifford, and we hear from AARP Connecticut.

For Some Transgender People, Pandemic Paves Path To Transition

Jan 13, 2021
Kyle Jones said she feels more at home in her body since beginning her transition in early 2020.
Cloe Poisson

Kyle Avery Jones had recently come out as transgender to her parents and friends when her final semester at the University of Connecticut began in January 2020. She wore androgynous clothes to school, sought out gender-neutral bathrooms, and limited her socializing to queer-friendly weekend gatherings off-campus.

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

So far, tens of thousands of Connecticut residents have already received the COVID-19 vaccine. Yet nationally, vaccine rollout has been going slower than experts had hoped.

This hour, we hear from reporters about how policies have shaped vaccine availability. And we get answers from a doctor about the science behind the shot.

What questions do you have about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine?

It’s finally 2021. But that line in the calendar doesn’t mean that the pandemic is anywhere near over, so I want to start this year off by looking back at people whom I interviewed in the series that we launched before Audacious.

Hm. H Zinn
Ken Turino

If you’ve ever been to a dietician to lose weight, or just to get healthier, you’ve probably heard the same advice and been told to eat the same kind of food. But American dietitians often leave out room to eat diverse cuisines and food groups, largely leaving out a lot ethnic food. 

Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to federal data. Those emissions have harmful impacts on health and the environment, and it's a problem we contribute to when we drive, fly, take public transportation or buy food that was carted across the country. 

Joe Mabel / Wikimedia Commons

If you own or rent a home that is older than 1978, you have to assume there is some lead in it. Lead is not be used in paint anymore, but the lead that exists in older homes can still be dangerous.

This hour, we talk about lead poisoning and the risks it poses to children. Coming up, we hear what homeowners and renters need to know about lead in their homes.

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?

ThinkStock.com

10% of Americans are living with diabetes. Are you one of them? Managing a chronic illness can already be difficult, but managing it during a pandemic can be nearly impossible.

Nicole Leonard / Connecticut Public Radio

Financing, supply chain logistics, and tracking who’s got the shot are just a few of the challenges facing health administrators in the coming months as the first round of COVID-19 vaccines makes its way to Connecticut.


The older I get, the more excited I am to be corrected when I’m wrong.

Sure, it may sting for a second because hearing someone say “actually…” can be kind of annoying, and if I’m wrong about something, then that means that contrary to my sparkling self-image, I don’t know it all.

Harriet Jones / Connecticut Public

Federal workplace safety officials have fined Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London after an employee there contracted COVID-19 and later died.

Connecticut's Halfhearted Battle: Response To Lead Poisoning Epidemic Lacks Urgency

Nov 18, 2020
Melanie Stengel / C-HIT

It wasn’t until Bridgeport lead inspector Charles Tate stepped outside the house on Wood Avenue that he saw, immediately, where 2-year-old Rocio Valladares was being poisoned.

Sanofi Pasteur / Creative Commons

The Center on Climate Change and Health at the Yale School of Public Health has just released a report on climate change and health in Connecticut. It comes to some troubling conclusions and makes urgent calls to action. One of the authors of that report is Laura Bozzi, Ph.D. She outlined the report’s findings on Connecticut Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

The principle of inclusive economic growth, holistic strategies aimed at helping all income groups prosper, is appealing in concept to state Sen. Saud Anwar, a physician for the past 25 years.

But in practice in Connecticut, it sometimes amounts to offering medicine to an asthmatic child trapped in a moldy, run-down apartment and hoping for the best. Medicine generally is helpful, but if offered within an overwhelmingly negative climate — one that’s unlikely to change — the prospects for measurable improvement are slim.

jwblinn/iStock / Thinkstock

The U.S. Supreme Court’s new 6-3 conservative majority was assumed by many to be the death knell for the Affordable Care Act. But a funny thing seems to have happened Tuesday during oral arguments. Conservative Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh appeared to indicate their support for leaving the ACA intact -- with the exception of the individual mandate. 

Donna Sullivan visits with her long-time partner, Walter Zbikowski, through a window at Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield.
Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

In September, Sen. Cathy Osten watched as a nursing home in Norwich, in the heart of her district, emptied its 53 remaining residents after the state ordered the building evacuated.

Twenty-seven people had contracted COVID-19 at the Three Rivers Healthcare Center and four died in one of the biggest nursing home outbreaks over the summer, even as the rate of new cases in most facilities statewide had slowed. Osten fielded calls from worried families as the remaining residents were transferred to other nursing homes.

Mold, Asbestos May Put Connecticut Weatherization Goal Out Of Reach

Nov 4, 2020
Costly removal of mold and asbestos can be a barrier to updating home insulation.
National Institutes of Health

Lorenzo Wyatt owns a Connecticut energy-efficiency contracting business focused almost exclusively on low-income residents — about 80 percent of his customers are eligible for no-cost energy savings services through the state’s residential efficiency programs.

Is Food Bank System Contributing To Health Disparities?

Nov 2, 2020
Volunteer Marsha Royster adds canned beef to bags at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen.
Melanie Stengel

The nation’s food bank system, created to provide emergency food assistance, fills a chronic need. Still, it may be perpetuating obesity among those facing hunger, concludes a new report by the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

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