Low-Wage Workers See No Relief From Uncertainty Of Pandemic

Ruben Ortiz admitted he was concerned the first time he picked up takeout from the New Haven restaurant where he worked until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the state in mid-March. “I walked in and thought, I can’t do this,” the New Haven resident said of his concerns about transmission of the virus that has killed more than 4,400 residents statewide. “I was inside, and it was making me uncomfortable.”

Like millions of employees throughout the country, particularly those working low-wage restaurant, hospitality, retail or cleaning jobs, Ortiz has no idea what the future will bring. He was out of work for 13 weeks. Then the Cast Iron Chop House began to see enough customers to schedule four waiters a night, compared with the eight to 10 who worked nightly before the pandemic.

Pandemic Worsens ‘Already Fragile’ Situation For Homeless Youth And Young Adults

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.”

In Hartford, Bridget Puntiel, a youth, mostly rides the buses day and night to stay safe. “I’m on the street [because] the shelters are flooded,” she said. Samiah Nikole, 16, thought she had a place to live – until she had to find another due to her boyfriend’s mother’s asthma. Although their circumstances are varied, these three young women have one common denominator – the coronavirus pandemic.

Health Care And Education Suffer When There’s No Internet Access

With no Wi-Fi or reliable internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic, Susana Encarnacion of New London had some trouble during doctors’ appointments for her 9-year-old son, Jeremiah, who has asthma and attention deficit disorder. The stay-at-home mother, who moved to New London from the Dominican Republic 16 years ago, said she and her husband used to have Wi-Fi, but it became too expensive. Phone appointments worked fine, but video doctor visits with only a phone hotspot often weren’t reliable. “There were issues with losing a connection in the middle of appointments,’’ she said in Spanish through an interpreter from the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connecticut. This summer, Gov. Ned Lamont and philanthropists have focused attention on Connecticut’s digital divide in access to online education.

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.