Coronavirus Conversation: Why The Pandemic Matters In The 2020 Election

Students at the University of Connecticut asked UConn professors who taught the summer COVID-19 course what they think about the pandemic’s impact on the upcoming election. The COVID-19 pandemic that has put the world to a halt for the past seven months has now also reached the highest office in the country. President Donald Trump announced early Friday morning that he and his wife, Melania, have tested positive for COVID-19 and would begin quarantining. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, tested negative, according to a Tweet from Pence’s press secretary. At this time, nearly 34 million people have contracted the virus and over a million have died worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Survivors Struggle With Lingering COVID-19 Symptoms

In April, Rhonda Eigabroadt, 53, showed up at the ER at MidState Medical Center in Meriden, struggling to breathe. Doctors did not expect her to survive the night, she recalled. Ten days earlier, she had tested positive for COVID-19 and was recovering at home in Bristol before taking a turn for the worse. An occupational therapist at the Litchfield Woods Health Care Center in Torrington, she, along with scores of staff and residents, had contracted the virus during an outbreak. Eigabroadt beat the odds, though.

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.

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.

Ombudsman’s Facebook Chats Are Lifeline For Families Worried About Loved Ones In Nursing Homes

Families with loved ones in nursing homes–unable to visit while getting frustratingly sparse information about them–have found a champion in Mairead Painter. Painter, the state’s long term care ombudsman, who works for the state Department of Aging and Disability Services, launched live chat sessions on Facebook that quickly evolved into a real-time information pipeline for families. “I was trying to think about how we can reach people. Normally, residents and family members are sometimes the last people to get information,” said Painter, whose office is independent of the state Department of Public Health.  “I wasn’t sure anybody would join [the chats].