As Veteran Suicide Grows, National Guard Highest In Active Military

Sergeant William Davidson had been struggling with mental health problems since his deployment to Afghanistan. When he didn’t attend at least one of his Connecticut National Guard drill weekends, the Guard declared him AWOL (absent without leave) and discharged him with a “bad paper” separation. Four months after his discharge, Davidson, 24, fatally shot himself. Davidson, who had two younger sisters, is one among thousands of veterans who die by suicide each year. Despite national goals to prevent veteran suicides, they occur at disproportionately higher rates than in the general population.

A Dangerous Mix: High Ozone Levels And Obesity

For the 29% of Connecticut adults who live with obesity, summer brings a difficult form of air pollution. Ground-level ozone is the colorless, odorless gas formed when auto exhaust reacts with sunlight at temperatures above 80 degrees. Ozone can be dangerous for people who have higher body mass indexes. If the pandemic shutdown were now, those with obesity and others who suffer from the adverse effects of ground-level ozone might have caught a break. Officials know that other forms of pollution dropped significantly during the early spring.

Getting Workforce Back To Full Strength Will Require Faster, Easier, And Better COVID-19 Tests

After the COVID-19 crisis came to Connecticut, the New Haven office of Comprehensive Dental Health shut down completely for two weeks. Later, Dr. Joseph Tagliarini began opening the office a few days a week with a skeleton crew to handle emergencies. Now the office is operating at nearly full staffing—with six full-time and six part-time employees. Nobody on the staff has gotten sick, and Tagliarini wants to keep it that way. He hopes the health care industry will produce a new generation of tests for the virus that will be simple, inexpensive, and accurate, and will deliver results on the spot.

Addiction Programs Adapt To Meet Challenges of Pandemic And A Rising Need

Earlier this year, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) examination of death certificates in the U.S. showed a sharp rise in alcohol-related deaths between 1999 and 2017. Connecticut mirrored those numbers, and addiction organizations stepped up their efforts to reach those in need. Then came the pandemic. Treatment centers, support groups and the state were suddenly ordered to shut down. “We like to say the opposite of addiction is connection,” said Thomas Russo, spokesman for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR).

Low-Income Children Are Most Vulnerable To Pandemic’s Long-Term Effects

Tameeka Coleman and six of her children lived on the streets before moving into a shelter in Fairfield. “We were together, so it was bearable,” said Coleman, 38. The hardest part was when her children cried for their home. “They wanted to know how we had lost our apartment,” said Coleman, who was evicted after she couldn’t pay the rent. Living conditions play a key role in children’s well-being.

Vape Marketing Linked To COVID-19 Draws Critics

Vape manufacturers have long been accused of marketing to teens with flavors like mango and cotton candy. Now vaping opponents say vape manufacturers are exploiting the coronavirus with face mask and hand sanitizer giveaways and #COVID-19 discounts. One maker of disposable vapes, Bidi Vapor, declared on Instagram: “A Bidi Stick a day keeps the pulmonologist away.”

The national Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says the tactics are hypocritical. Its president, Matthew L. Myers, said it’s imperative that young people quit vaping to avoid being susceptible to COVID-19. “Never before in our history has it been more important for young people to have healthy lungs,’’ Myers said.

Food Safety Nets Are Straining Under Economic Meltdown

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. Severe food needs in Stamford, which has the most COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, reflect the state and national food emergency wrought by record unemployment. Consistent with the national experience, Latino and black residents, who comprise about 40% of the city’s population, are disproportionately contracting COVID-19 and losing low-wage work. Latinos comprise 26% (33,000) of Stamford’s population, blacks 14% (17,000). The Brookings Institution has reported that more than one in five households nationally were food insecure by the end of April.

‘Cautious Enthusiasm’ For Plasma Treatment In COVID-19 Cases

Stamford Hospital is treating most of its critically ill coronavirus patients with blood plasma from people who have recovered, after stunning turnarounds in several patients who were gravely ill. “We started with only the sickest patients on respirators. Then we offered it to all of the patients on respirators, then all the patients in the ICU, and now all the COVID patients in the hospital on 40 percent oxygen, not with a ventilator,” said Dr. Paul Sachs, director of pulmonary medicine. “So far, there has been cautious enthusiasm.”

Plasma transfusions are gaining traction at other hospitals throughout Connecticut and nationally as well, as doctors wait for a breakthrough treatment. Nuvance Health, which includes Danbury and Norwalk hospitals, reports more than 200 patients system-wide treated with plasma so far.

A Surge In COVID-19 Testing Needed Before Connecticut Can Reopen Safely

Leslie Radcliffe looks ahead to the planned reopening of Connecticut’s economy beginning on May 20 with a mix of hope and anxiety. Hope, because people in her working-class Hill neighborhood in New Haven will be able to return to work, but anxiety because she’s worried that the “reopening” won’t go smoothly. In particular, she is concerned about testing for coronavirus. Will there be enough testing so the disease won’t catch fire again and threaten the lives and livelihoods in her predominantly black and Latinx neighborhood? Radcliffe, an administrative assistant at Yale University, has been working from home, but last week she began driving her brother to his job at Costco.