You can have prayers. Or you can have teeth. After two mass shootings within 16 hours stunned the nation earlier this month, conversation turned to how best to remove guns from the wrong hands. Seventeen states—including Connecticut—and the District of Columbia have “red flag” laws, also known as “extreme risk” laws, that, depending on the state, allow family members, household members, or law enforcement officials to petition the courts to remove guns from the hands of someone who might do harm to himself or herself, or to others. It’s an approach that is supported by 85% of registered voters, according to a 2018 Washington Post/ABC poll.
Trying to walk out to Charles Island at Silver Sands State Park in Milford this summer, George Swaby drowned after he and a friend were swept up in a fast current off a sandbar. Beachgoers watched as a boater rescued his friend that Friday, July 21. The body of Swaby, 28, was not found for two days. Compounding the tragedy was that it happened in sight of the beach, although outside the swimming area. “It was our goal to guard that beach from Thursday through Sunday,” said Dennis Schain, spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Connecticut is one of 11 states with a very high prevalence of potentially corrosive groundwater, increasing the risk that water running out of the taps of homes with private wells might be tainted with lead, a study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) found. USGS researchers analyzed nearly three decades of data from more than 20,000 public and private wells nationwide and determined that between 75.3 percent and 84.9 percent of wells in Connecticut could contain corrosive groundwater. If left untreated, corrosive groundwater can leach lead and other metals in pipes en route to the tap, raising health concerns for the estimated 871,000 state residents who rely on private wells as their primary source of drinking water. In Connecticut, the state does not mandate or conduct testing of well water, instead relying on private well owners to maintain, test and treat their own wells. Many well owners are not aware of the risks of corrosion, environmental health activists say.
A Norwalk-based exterminator was called to an apartment building in the New Haven area and, entering one unit, he found the walls “dripping with bed bugs.”
The same company, Bliss Pest Control of Connecticut, answered a call from a Greenwich resident who had recently returned from one of his frequent business trips. His family was regularly waking up with bites. The culprit? Bed bugs. “Bliss gets calls all the time for that very story,” Michael Lawrence, area district manager of Bliss, wrote in an email.
Struggles with unemployment, food insecurity and unstable housing can take a serious toll on individuals’ health, and stronger social supports could play a key role in improving their well-being, according to an advocacy group. While national health reform and the Affordable Care Act have focused largely on improving access to and the quality of health care, socioeconomic factors – like housing, employment and food security – play a larger role in someone’s overall health than clinical factors, according to the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. “Health is affected by many other things, not just whether you have access to a doctor, access to health care,” said Jill Zorn, senior policy officer at the foundation. “If you’re really interested in improving health, it’s not just about clinical care.”
In fact, just 20 percent of a person’s health is attributed to clinical are, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 10 percent is attributed to physical environment, 30 percent to health behaviors and 40 percent – the largest share – is tied to socioeconomic factors, according to the CDC.
Governors in some of the states with the highest rate of uninsured people – including Louisiana, Texas, and Florida – insist they’ll opt out of the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare. One political website (Politico.com) calls them the “hell-no” states.
Local public health officials and health care providers are zeroing in on health disparities by using the “health equity index,” an online tool to measure the correlation between health and the socioeconomic factors that define a community.
E.O. Manufacturing, a West Haven company specializing in industrial machinery, has been violating toxic waste laws for at least a decade, despite fines and legal action—a record that has earned it a spot on a national hazardous waste ‘watch list.’The state claims that the Horton Place facility, which is adjacent to a middle school, was handling and managing hazardous wastes improperly. Although the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Attorney General’s office initiated action against E.O. more than three years ago, the company continues to dodge penalties and remediation orders.
Multi-million dollar initiatives to help at-risk and parenting teens across Connecticut call for “evidence-based” and “culturally appropriate” approaches – the mantra of experts assisting Hispanic youth, who have the highest number of teen births in the state.