As scientists measure the prevalence of COVID-19 in the sludge flowing from New Haven sewage treatment plants, they’re also finding that our biological waste can tell them much more about our collective pathologies. Between March 19 and June 30, a group of scientists tested waste that had previously been used to detect COVID-19, looking for drugs and chemicals. The researchers found significant increases in three opioids, four antidepressants, and other chemicals in sludge from New Haven. The analysis, by scientists from the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) and Yale University, offered the first glimpses of how the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders affected people’s behavior. It also underscored how important human waste can be as a resource for understanding public health and society’s habits.
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.
The state Medical Examining Board on Tuesday disciplined six doctors, including fining a Norwalk doctor $5,000 for prescribing high doses of opioids to a prison inmate and other patients without proper safeguards. The board also suspended the license of a family medicine physician from Westport, saying his excessive drinking of alcohol presents a “clear and immediate danger” to the public. In the Norwalk case, the board also reprimanded Dr. Martin Perlin and limited his ability to prescribe painkillers. Between 2013 and 2015, Perlin prescribed high doses of opioids without adhering to standard safeguards, state Department of Public Health records show. One of the patients was incarcerated during the time that Perlin prescribed drugs for him, the records show.
Arrests in Connecticut schools dropped 13.5 percent from 2008 to 2011, but hundreds of the arrests made in 2011 were for minor policy violations such as throwing erasers, shouting, or leaving class without permission, a new report says. The report by Connecticut Voices for Children – the first comprehensive study of its kind in the state – also found significant racial disparities in arrest rates: Black students were 3.7 times more likely to be arrested than white students, and Hispanic students were 3.2 times more likely. “The overall number of arrests have declined, which is an encouraging trend,” said Sarah Esty, the report’s author and a former policy fellow of Voices for Children. “However, there remains a great deal of work to be done in terms of students being arrested for behaviors that likely could have been handled without police involvement . .
Patients treated for pneumonia at four Connecticut hospitals have ended up readmitted to the hospital within 30 days at rates significantly higher than the national average—a lapse that the federal government considers costly and potentially harmful, and that could lead to Medicare penalties beginning in 2012.