Doctors Urge the Public to Seek Help for Cancer Screenings as Sharp Decline in Care Means Thousands of Untreated Cases

In March and April just 97 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed throughout Hartford Healthcare compared with 233 cases in 2019. The stark decline holds true for digestive cancers with a 42 percent decline in diagnoses and breast cancer with a 30 percent decline in diagnoses compared to the same period in 2019. “If you don’t diagnose, you can’t treat,” said Dr. Peter Yu, physician in chief at Hartford Healthcare’s Cancer Institute. “We are going to diagnose these cases, but they will be much harder to treat when we do.” The concern is that a two to three month delay

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Eversource Reports Just Half the Usual Service Shutoffs for May — Moratorium to End on July 1

In May, just 68 businesses in the 149 towns across Connecticut that Eversource services disconnected their electric compared to 118 in 2019. Although it may seem counterintuitive, as many businesses are struggling to stay afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Eversource has suspended all involuntary customer disconnections due to missed payments since mid-March. “We’ve waived all late payment charges and began offering a special, flexible payment plan for any past due bills,” said Frank Poirot Jr., a spokesperson for Eversource. “We’ve also set up a special resource page on our website as well as an 800 number for business customers to

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Draft Guidelines for Summer Schools Across Connecticut Prioritize Local Flexibility

On July 6, school districts across Connecticut will be allowed to begin in-person summer school, according to draft guidelines released by the Connecticut Department of Education. But in contrast to nearly every other school closure decision made during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state will allow local and regional school districts the final say on whether to reopen for summer instruction. “July 6 is the first day we could be in-person. We’ve been discussing it since it was released last week and trying to determine what is feasible and what we can do by that date,” said Jan Perruccio, the superintendent

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Unemployment by the Numbers

In a typical week unemployment claims statewide for Connecticut sit at about 2,000. In the second week of March that number tripled. In the third week, new claims reached an all-time high of 78,304. But these claims also reflect complex economies and the disparate impacts of efforts to the slow the spread of COVID-19 as they are felt across categories of age, gender, education, industry and location. Those in the beginning of their career, between 20 and 29, have been hit the hardest by layoffs and furloughs across the state. Typically, an equal proportion of claims are filed by those

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As 378 of 400 Test Positive For COVID-19, Workplace Safety Fails Corrections Workers Across Connecticut

Each week Corrections Officer Brian Withington at York Correctional Institution is given one surgical mask. He is expected to wear the disposal mask through back-to-back 16-hour shifts in a facility with hundreds of positive COVID-19 cases. “We are expected to wear a surgical mask for 80 hours a week and they’re not even effective at protecting us,” Withington said. “Out of all the state agencies, the Department of Corrections is the one that has the most issues, the most cases, and yet we don’t have enough PPE.” As of May 26, 792 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 across the

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One Size Does Not Fit the Virus

The nation and Connecticut are reopening fitfully and unevenly from a shutdown that many think should not have happened – many including Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman of the left-leaning New York Times and Dr. David L. Katz, a Connecticut MD and an expert with a public health degree from Yale. Our “one-size-fits-all” shutdown policy is strange in the face of a virus which afflicts different population segments in such wildly different ways. For those over age 65, who comprise only 16 percent of the country’s population, the virus has been devastating. This age group has sustained about 80 percent of

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Old Saybrook to Purchase 20 Adirondack Chairs for the Town Green

The Town of Old Saybrook announced the Economic Development Commission will be purchasing 20 Adirondack chairs to “provide support for restaurants and provide additional seating,” according to Susie Beckman, economic development director for Old Saybrook. The chairs will be placed on the town green. “This is a concept that I had seen a couple of years ago that worked in another town where they were just doing some placemaking,” said Beckman. “By just adding some conversational areas with Adirondack chairs, it encouraged people to come and sit.” To start, the commission will arrange 20 chairs in four groups of five

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Opinion: Move Forward or Sink

Addressing Americans in the wake of the Challenger explosion, President Reagan addressed a shocked and grieving nation, reminding us of an important truth: “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.” Today, Americans are grieving again – for deceased friends and loved ones, but also for the loss of prosperity, jobs, economic security and the dreams that go with them. The coronavirus pandemic has cost us dearly in many ways, especially in a state like Connecticut, which was already struggling with high taxes, exploding pension debt, an exodus of residents from the state, and an anemic

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Music at the Red Door Hosts an Intimate Pop-up Recital with Christa Rakich on Harpsichord

In a stirring noontime pop-up concert on a recent Wednesday, Christa Rakich performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s French Suite #5 in G, BWV 816 on the harpsichord as part of Music at the Red Door, a series of online performances hosted by St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford, CT. Rakich, a masterful interpreter of J. S. Bach’s work on a variety of keyboard instruments, has a lifetime of experience performing this piece. Rakich first learned it as a high school student. “It is a very old and very dear friend,” Rakich says. “Having grown up with it, it has revealed

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In Press Conference, Lamont Says Testing on Track for Phase One Reopening

Last week the state of Connecticut tested 29,000 individuals for COVID-19 and is expecting to surpass a benchmark next week of 42,000 weekly tests, just in time for phase one of the state’s reopening. “Testing is a key metric and I think you’re going to see that we are getting there,” said Governor Ned Lamont at Tuesday’s press conference. “We are going to hit 42,000 tests a week by next week and well over 100,000 a week by June.” With testing in place and more than 20 consecutive days of declining hospitalizations statewide, Lamont assured residents that Connecticut is not

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Fatalities Rise Despite 50% Drop in Traffic Across Connecticut

Despite a 50 percent drop in traffic from mid-March through the end of April, fatalities on the roads across Connecticut have increased. Between January 1 and April 30 of this year there were 87 fatalities on the road compared with 62 in 2019 and 81 in 2018 during the same period. “It’s astounding to me that despite the big drop off in traffic volumes and the big drop off in total crashes, the number of fatalities has not gone down. It’s either gone up significantly or is about the same,” said Tom Maziarz, the chief of policy and planning for

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Unleashed Dogs Spark Debate About Essex Land Trust Property

Essex locals are caught in a hot debate about dogs and leashes at Cross Lots Essex Land Trust Property. Because the land is privately owned, the town of Essex ordinance in regard to “leash laws” does not apply and some are fed up with what they are saying are “out of control dogs”. Roderick Seurattan, who is currently living adjacent to the Cross Lots property, posted on social media about his frustration with the trust property and how it is being used by locals. That post attracted over 100 comments and ignited a debate about what the policy should be

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Department of Labor Processes $13.8 Million in Self-Employment Benefits in First 24 Hours

Within the first 24 hours of the self-employed unemployment insurance system launch, the Connecticut Department of Labor processed 6,419 claims and $13.8 million in benefits. The new system opened on Thursday May 7, after more than six weeks of delays. “We are very pleased with the system and its performance,” said Nancy Steffens, spokesperson for the Department of Labor. “Those filers that requested direct deposit will have benefits deposited to their bank accounts in three business days and those requesting debit card will find the benefits loaded to their cards when they receive them in the mail.” The $13.8 million

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Connecticut Struggles to Provide Promised Unemployment Benefits to the State’s Self-Employed

On March 29, after two weeks out of work, Chris Read applied for unemployment benefits. Today, more than five weeks later, his application has yet to be accepted and his rainy day funds are almost out. “I haven’t worked in seven weeks and I am self-employed. This is just the end of my rope,” said Read, a carpet installer in southeastern Connecticut. “I feel hung out to dry here.” At the end of March, Read, like many other self-employed individuals across the state, were told that for the first time that they would be able to apply for unemployment benefits

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New London Seeks to Ease Reopening for Restaurants Beginning May 20

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NEW LONDON — On May 20, for the first time in more than two months, restaurants in Connecticut will – most likely – be allowed to begin extend service to customers beyond takeout and delivery According to Governor Ned Lamont, the first phase of the reopening efforts will allow restaurants to serve patrons  in outdoor, socially-distanced seating.  How many restaurants have the space — or be able to turn a profit — has yet to be seen. “We want to work with the individual restaurants depending on your needs. Some of you already have areas for outdoor dining, but if

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Clarify Reports of Cost Savings

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This Wednesday, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education will vote on the first budget decrease in the district’s history. The $34.9 million proposed budget is 1.06 percent less than last year’s regional district budget. The current proposal is $180,000 less than the budget originally proposed in February. “The goal was to have a zero percent increase in payments for both towns,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. “Originally, even though Lyme was seeing a reduction in cost, Old Lyme was looking at a $180,000 increase.” The nearly $200,000 in total savings from the 2019-2020 budget come from a refinancing

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Despite Setting a High Bar, Mounting $934 Million and $2.2 Billion Deficits Spur Announced Four-phase Reopening for Connecticut

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Governor Ned Lamont announced a four-phase reopening plan beginning May 20 in hopes of capturing increased sales and income tax revenues as the state faces a $934 million deficit in fiscal year 2020 and a projected $2.2 billion deficit in fiscal year 2021 caused by efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. “The numbers are sobering,” Lamont said, leading off a Friday morning press conference. “COVID has been tough on our physical health, mental health and fiscal health. The state was on track and doing well on budget until a couple months ago.” In addition to significant declines in personal

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Town Leaders Along the Shoreline Mull Beach Closures as Summer Approaches

With sunny days and temperatures in the 60s forecast for this weekend, towns around the region are facing decisions on whether to keep their beachfront parks open against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. “We are struggling with what to do with our beaches,” East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson told his town’s Board of Education at a Thursday night Zoom meeting. “We’ll figure out something in the next couple of days. We’re going to see how the weekend goes. Beaches around us from both sides — Waterford and Old Lyme — have closed. The state’s [beaches and parks] are

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New London Launches a Streamlined Helpline for People in Need

On May 1st, New London is launching a helpline for all those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any resident with questions or in need of food, housing, education or medical assistance should call 860-941-4355. “New London is the number one most distressed community in the state. Even without a pandemic we have a lot of needs,” said Jeanne Milstein, the director of human services in New London. “We have established the Humanitarian Emergency Lifeline Program (HELP) to help residents access the resources they need.” In the past two months Milstein, Mayor Mike Passero and other city employees have received

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Opinion: “Normal was never good enough”

No one wants to live like this. No business wants to remain shuttered. No doctor or nurse wants to see this much death. And no reasonable elected official wants to prolong the agony of the shut-down. But amid the cries to re-open our state, we must find a balance between our financial interests and our physical well-being. After all, with innovation and hard work, over time the economy will rebound. But lost lives are lost forever. Now that more Americans have died of COVID-19 in two months than were sacrificed in the two decades of the Vietnam War, it is

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Opinion: It’s Not Stimulus if There’s Nothing to Stimulate

It is not “stimulus” if there’s nothing to stimulate. Most states have been under stay-home-shutdown orders for almost seven weeks, and only a few plan to reopen before mid-May, so the “stimulus” bills are really just “bridge” bills – constituting a combined $2.7 trillion bridge to an uncertain future date when people can go back to work and businesses can re-open. Moreover, the bridge isn’t even fully built. Many citizens have not received their $1,200 “stimulus” checks, and many small businesses haven’t received Payroll Protection Program loan funds intended to cover eight weeks of payroll. Many will never receive PPP

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Opinion: “A Path Forward for Connecticut”

Through these challenging times I have been inspired by the resilience, ingenuity and compassion of our eastern Connecticut communities. Our shared sense of purpose and commitment to helping those in need is why I strap on a mask and go out every day, delivering masks, supplies and support to senior centers, health care facilities, small businesses and families. It is why I’m working across party lines as a member of the state task force to combat this crisis, keep the public informed, help individuals and small businesses navigate options, safeguard our communities and deliver much needed relief. It’s why I

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Yale New Haven Reassures Expecting Mothers and Families on Coronavirus Protocols

Expecting a new baby of course comes with countless questions and concerns and demands making innumerable decisions. But now with the COVID-19 pandemic in near full swing, for many parents those same questions and fears are multiplied 10-fold. “For eight weeks we’ve been creating a service that will meet your needs and expectations. We want your experience to be as close to what you envisioned as possible,” said Dr. Christian Pettker, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at Yale School of Medicine at a live-webinar hosted Thursday night for all expecting families in Yale New Haven Hospital’s

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Connecticut Pushes Ahead on Transportation Projects as Revenues Plummet

Traffic has dropped 50 percent across the state and nation, oil prices have collapsed and state transportation departments relying on fuel taxes are losing revenue – but the Connecticut Department of Transportation isn’t cutting back on any projects just yet. Transportation officials in states across the country – including Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania – are already scaling back planned highway projects or furloughing workers as they expect more people staying home will mean less revenue from key sources of funding, including the gas tax.  Connecticut Department of Transportation Spokesman Kevin Nursick said the state hasn’t cutback yet.

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Friday Marks Start of Ramadan for Muslims Across Coastline Connecticut

Muslims across Connecticut begin fasting for Ramadan with sunrise on Friday, and congregations, communities, and businesses around the state are grappling with how to celebrate a holy month imbued with a communal spirit at at time when mosques and most other public spaces are closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “This will be the most unique Ramadan of our lifetimes because none of us have lived through this and we hope that we don’t have to again,” said Imam Omer Bajwa, Muslim chaplain for Yale University. Abdul-Rehman Malik, a journalist and guest lecturer in Islamic Studies at Yale

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Across Connecticut Towns Choose Options for Local Tax Relief

Municipal governments across Connecticut have until Saturday, April 25 to choose one of two local tax leniency programs mandated by Governor Ned Lamont in executive orders signed on April 1 and April 9. The two options, one a tax deferment program and the other a low interest program, would apply to local tax property taxes and many other levies typically collected by local government between March 10 and July 1 of 2020. Local Government Tax Program Clinton Low interest rate Deep River Low interest rate East Lyme Deferment Essex Low interest rate Lyme Low interest rate Old Lyme Low interest

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Testing Key for Task Force Advising Lamont, “Small Steps” Beginning in June Continuing until the New Year

State officials say that a massive expansion of testing capability in Connecticut will be needed before lifting restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but Governor Ned Lamont today announced the first steps toward reopening the state, including an advisory group to develop a strategic plan by May 20. “The most important objective or goal for this initial step when we think about reopening Connecticut is really increasing the capacity of testing for COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health and co-chair of the new advisory group.  Ko explained that

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Masks the Latest Mandate Of 28 Executive Orders Since March 10

Effective Monday night, Gov. Ned Lamont has ordered all Connecticut residents to wear masks or similar protection in public and shared spaces unless prevented by medical or equivalent reasons. This mandate is included in the 28th executive order issued by the governor since declaring a state of emergency across Connecticut on March 10, in the process radically altering business and daily life in the state in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Last month, the governor ordered the cancellation of classes at all public schools effective March 17, and more recent orders have extended that closure until

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As Prices Spike Tong Fields Complaints for Price Gouging in Wake of Coronavirus

“We’re seeing it everywhere. It’s not just consumers going to their local store, but also hearing about it and seeing attempts to charge businesses, and in particular hospitals, more for things including masks and personal protective equipment. But, it’s really, really important that people understand that not every price increase is price gouging,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, by phone on Wednesday. As of April 15, Tong’s office had received 520 complaints concerning 288 businesses in the state and has sent letters of inquiry to 215 of the businesses, including “several to Amazon and eBay retailers, and another 44

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Under Governor’s Order, Towns Offered Two Programs for Local Tax Leniency

Given the coronavirus and economic downturn, all of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities have options for making local tax collection more lenient for local residents by taking advantage of one or both of two options laid out in Governor Ned Lamont’s executive orders on April 1 and April 9. “We do believe a great majority of people will be paying their taxes on time and that’s important for cash flow reasons for the town, but we do know and recognize that there are those who are having economic difficulty,” said Mark Nickerson, first selectman of East Lyme. The East Lyme Board of

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