Nursing Home Deaths Soar

In Connecticut, nursing home residents represent more than one-half of all coronavirus deaths, according to a new report by the state Department of Public Health (DPH). Deaths in nursing homes rose to 1,249 from 758 in one week.  The 1,249 deaths represent 55% of the state’s 2,257 COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 cases in nursing homes increased from 3,423  to 4,814, DPH said. Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 150 have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, up from 135 a week ago. Kimberly Hall North in Windsor and Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford reported the most COVID-19 deaths at 39 each, followed by Abbott Terrace Health Center of Waterbury, with 37; and Sheridan Woods Health Care Center in Bristol, with 28.

Outdoors A Respite As Coronavirus Restrictions Tighten

Residents took advantage of the sunny weather over the weekend to get out of their houses and enjoy the outdoors. In Edgewood Park in New Haven, there were people on bicycles and skateboards, people practicing yoga and playing cards in the sunshine, enjoying a reprieve from their coronavirus concerns and Gov. Ned Lamont’s increased restrictions, which begin today. Lamont on Sunday ordered that all “non-essential” workers stay home beginning at 8 tonight. Some “essential” operations, including health care providers, food stores, gas stations and pet stores, will remain open. For a complete list, go here.

As Lyme Disease Spreads, Danbury Lab Focuses On Diagnostic Tools

For nearly nine years, scientists inside the boxy brick Western Connecticut Health Network Research Center have been working to develop a more accurate test to diagnose the scourge of the Connecticut woods: Lyme disease. Lyme disease is carried by the tiny blacklegged tick, commonly known as a deer tick. When a blacklegged tick infected with Lyme bites a human, it can transmit a tiny microscopic organism, called a spirochete, that moves around the human body, evading easy detection. Researchers in Danbury have been trying to detect that spirochete, similar to those that cause syphilis and other diseases, in people’s blood. Pathology research scientist Donna Guralski powered up her microscope and computer recently to show the culprit: a fluorescent green corkscrew-shaped organism that twisted around the screen, just as it would burrow through a person’s blood vessel walls and into tissue.

Lawmakers Plan To Rein In Weaponized Drones

When Clinton resident Austin Haughwout uploaded YouTube videos of his pistol and flamethrower-equipped drones last year, he triggered a national debate over the use of weaponized drones that is expected to result in new state legislation. Eight states, including Vermont and Maine, now have laws prohibiting or limiting the weaponization of drones, and Connecticut is expected to take up a similar ban in the next legislative session. A proposal in Connecticut to make it a felony to carry a weapon or an explosive in a drone was approved by the House during the 2016 legislative session, but the Senate failed to take action. “Hopefully, next year, we will get the legislation across the finish line,” said Rep. Stephen Dargan, D-West Haven, co-chair of the legislature’s Public Safety and Security Committee. Nationally, there were 632,068 drones registered as of December, according to Alison Duquette, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Don’t Soak Up The UV Rays; Skin Cancer Rates On The Rise

As melanoma rates continue to rise nationally, particularly among young people, experts warn that skin cancer will become increasingly common unless community leaders and policy makers emphasize its prevention. More than 9,000 people nationwide die of melanoma each year, and the rate of new cases doubled between 1982 and 2011, according to a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. In 2011 alone, the most recent year for which CDC data is available, there were 65,000 cases diagnosed in the United States. In Connecticut, residents are diagnosed with skin cancer at the same rate as residents of Florida, CDC data shows. Outreach efforts and policy changes could prevent an estimated 21,000 new cases of melanoma each year, the CDC said.