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.

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.

Deaths In Nursing Homes Show Steady Decline

The pace of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes has slowed to its lowest level since mid-April, but cases rose to 8,322 up from 7,875 the week prior. Nursing home deaths represent 60% of all COVID-related deaths, figures released Friday by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) show. For the week, 208 nursing home residents died, compared to 263 the week prior. In all, 2,398 Connecticut residents have died in nursing homes, up from 2,190. Of the state’s 213 nursing homes, 167 (78%) have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, up from 165 a week ago.

Nursing Homes Cited For Infection-Control Violations

Nursing homes inspected for infection-control practices during the pandemic revealed deficiencies, including failure to separate COVID-positive residents from residents who do not have the virus, improper use or no use of personal protective equipment (PPE), failure to practice good hygiene and handwashing and the improper sanitation of equipment. One facility was cited for allowing an assistant director of nursing, who tested positive for COVID, to work for five days. Plans of correction were submitted by each home. None of the facilities were fined. The unannounced, in-person inspections resulted in enhanced staff training and additional deliveries of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the Department of Public Health (DPH).

‘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.

Nursing Home Cases, Deaths Continue To Rise

The number of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes increased to 6,008 from 4,814 in one week, and nursing home deaths now represent 58% of all COVID-related deaths, according to the latest figures released by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) Thursday night. COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes rose to 1,627 from 1,249 in one week.  The 1,627 deaths represent 58% of the state’s 2,797 COVID-19 deaths. Of the state’s 215 nursing homes, 160 have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, up from 150 a week ago. Riverside Health and Rehab Center in East Hartford reported the most COVID-19 deaths with 47, followed by Kimberly Hall North in Windsor, with 40; Abbott Terrace Health Center of Waterbury, with 38; and Saint John Paul II Center in Danbury, with 30. The nursing home with the highest number of residents with COVID-19 is Litchfield Woods in Torrington, with 126, followed by Abbott Terrace Health Center, with 121; Branford Hills Health Care Center and Parkway Pavilion Health and Rehabilitation Center in Enfield, each with 93; Bride Brook Health & Rehabilitation Center, Niantic, with 96; and the Golden Hill Rehab Pavilion in Milford with 82, according to the DPH data.

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.