State Capitol Update for the Week of September 20September 24, 2021
The biggest upcoming event on the horizon for me is a special session scheduled to convene on Monday, September 27 to address the Governor’s request to extend the declaration of public health and civil preparedness emergencies until February 15, 2022.
The emergency declarations were originally put in place on March 10, 2020, and are set to expire on September 30, 2021. At the height of the pandemic, Governor Lamont had issued over 300 orders on a wide array of topics. Since then, the vast majority of these orders have expired, and a few have been addressed by legislation. Only twelve remain in force, addressing issues such as housing for the homeless (and others who live in congregate settings), providing access to testing and vaccination sites, authorization for municipalities to act to protect public health, access to federal Coronavirus Relief Funds, and vaccination requirements for state employees.
Though we hoped to be out of the woods by now, the Delta variant had other plans for us and has caused an uptick in infections and hospitalizations this summer. The level of emergency is not what it once was, but those public health metrics, combined with the potential deployment of booster shots, in particular, mean that the ability of our government to act nimbly is still important. Many of our neighbor states are wrestling with similar issues: some have allowed their public health emergency declarations to expire (see MA and NJ), but have vested the authority to act in their public health officials (who are not elected) rather than the governor. In CT, we have limited the Governor’s authority through legislation that gives the bipartisan group of legislative leaders the ability to veto any particular order. Our leadership has made it clear that if anyone in that group objects to any order, they will convene the group to discuss and vote: no meetings have yet been called.
For these reasons, I am inclined to support the Governor’s request, especially as it expires once our regular legislative session begins in February, but I look forward to continuing to hear from you, and to hearing the debate on Monday.
There are many, many local events coming up this weekend – maybe I will see you at the Great Mutt Show on Cornwall Green on Saturday between 11am and 2pm, or at Women’s Support Services 40th Anniversary celebration at the Town Grove in Salisbury on Sunday between 3pm and 5pm. There is also an important Sharon Hospital Community Update on September 29 from 5:30 to 7:00pm, unfortunately conducted via zoom. For more information, and to join the zoom webinar, click here.
Finally, congratulations to Northwestern Regional High School on being named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School! The school was one of four in CT to receive the
award distinction, awarded for demonstrating overall high achievement or success in closing achievement gaps. See more about their work below.
Here’s a list of today’s topics:
- COVID Data. Click here.
- Northwest Corner School Honored as National Blue Ribbon School. Click here.
- Do Your Thing CT. Click here.
- CDC Approves Booster Shots for Pfizer Recipients. Click here.
For several additional graphs and tables containing more data, including a list of cases in every municipality, visit ct.gov/coronavirus and click the link that is labeled, “Data Tracker.”
Northwestern Regional High School among four Connecticut public schools named 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools
Congratulations to four Connecticut public schools on being named by the U.S. Department of Education as 2021 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This recognition is given annually to select schools across the nation for demonstrating overall high achievement or success in closing achievement gaps.
The four schools are:
- Northwestern Regional High School in Regional School District 7 (Barkhamsted, Colebrook, New Hartford, and Norfolk);
- Frisbie Elementary School in Wolcott;
- Andrew Avenue Elementary School in Naugatuck; and
- Thames River Magnet School (formerly Mary Morrisson Elementary School) in Groton.
Northwestern Regional High School (Region 7 – Barkhamsted, Colebrook, New Hartford, and Norfolk) was recognized for its overall high achievement. The school enrolls about 625 students from a variety of small towns. Five towns use this school as a designated high school, and its award-winning agricultural education program attracts students from many others. Grade 9 can be a difficult transition for many students, even when the majority of students have attended school together for many years. Studies conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research and replicated across the country show that Grade 9 course grades are predictive of on-time graduation as well as post-secondary enrollment. Connecticut’s accountability system includes a measure of “On track in Grade 9” calculated based on the percentage of students earning at least five credits in Grade 9. Additionally, the Early Indication Tool developed by the Connecticut State Department of Education helps districts track course failures through the middle grades and into high school so that appropriate supports can be provided to students.
Northwestern takes a proactive approach to easing the transition for students and building community through Link Crew, a student leadership program, before the school year begins. Supporting each other and the broader community are core values at Northwestern. In 2015, the district implemented a program called “Kindness in Motion.” This unique program has been recognized by InspirEd, Facebook, and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Kindness in Motion is a mini-grant program that empowers students and staff to design and implement projects that spread kindness within and beyond their community.
Overall performance has earned the school placement in Category 1, the highest grouping in the system, the last time accountability reports were issued. Northwestern is one of only nine high schools in Category 1 and one of six to be identified as a School of Distinction.
“Do Your Thing CT” influencer campaign launched to spotlight Connecticut small businesses
Do Your Thing CT!, a new influencer campaign highlighting the dining, shopping, experiences, and other services that are unique to Connecticut, launched this week.
A joint effort between the Office of Governor Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Do Your Thing CT! takes a distinct approach by partnering with local influencers who create their own content promoting their favorite spots and activate their social networks encouraging residents to support local businesses.
Residents and visitors can participate by posting a video or photo of their favorite locally owned small businesses in Connecticut using the hashtag#DoYourThingCT on social media.
In addition to Spanish and English advertising on social, digital, and broadcast platforms, the campaign includes the launch of a website – doyourthingct.org – which features short videos of local business owners partnering with Connecticut-based influencers sharing their personal stories. The diverse mix of small businesses featured in the campaign are from all over the state.
The term small businesses refers to those with fewer than 100 employees. In Connecticut, there are about 80,000 small businesses and they employ more than 620,000 people – approximately 46% of the state’s workforce.
Do Your Thing CT! will run through October in various digital platforms, including streaming, social, and television.
CDC Approves Booster Shots For Pfizer-BioNTech Recipients
Good news! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended booster shots for certain individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which includes:
- Individuals 65 years of age and older
- Frontline workers ages 18 to 64 who are at risk of exposure
- Long-term nursing home residents; and
- Individuals with certain high-risk, underlying medical conditions.
Booster shots were previously approved for those who are immunocompromised in mid-August.
Although people who have received two vaccine doses still have significant protection against COVID-19, a third dose is a chance for older adults and those most at risk to reinforce their immunity. Those who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are not yet eligible for booster shots.
Booster shots may be administered six months after the second vaccine dose. Those who are eligible for a booster shot can sign up at https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal. Booster shots will be available at hospital vaccine sites, at urgent care clinics and pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens.
It is important to note that high levels of demand may make appointments difficult to come by at first, but those who want booster shots will not have to wait long.
The COVID-19 vaccine is our greatest weapon against this deadly virus. As new variants continue to develop and spread, it is critical that everyone get vaccinated. I encourage all those that are eligible to sign up and get a booster shot to improve immunity against COVID-19.
If you have not gotten vaccinated, you can find a location near you by visiting https://portal.ct.gov/Vaccine-Portal
Stay safe and stay well.
Providing information to Connecticut residents
For the most up-to-date information from the State of Connecticut on COVID-19, residents are encouraged to visit ct.gov/coronavirus. Residents can also subscribe to text message alerts from the state by texting the keyword COVIDCT to 888-777.
Individuals who have general questions that are not answered on the website can call 2-1-1 for assistance. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and has multilingual assistance. Anyone who is out-of-state or requires a toll-free number can connect to Connecticut 2-1-1 by dialing 1-800-203-1234. This is intended to be used by individuals who are not experiencing symptoms but may have general questions related to COVID-19. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms are strongly urged to contact their medical provider.