State Capitol Update for the Week of October 11

October 15, 2021

The plan Nuvance announced at the end of September to limit services at Sharon Hospital remains very much front of mind, and we began to deepen the conversation this week, when Nuvance presented the plan to the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (a consortium of 21 towns in the northwest corner).  Many thoughtful members of the community joined this meeting (held via Zoom) and kicked off the agenda with public comments that were focused, diverse in perspective and experience, and uniformly opposed to the announced plan.  The first selectmen from the affected towns and I also added our commentary, mostly to lay out many themes of concern, and areas where we need more information.  You can listen to that meeting here: the password is 8ruAQQ%E. 

For those wanting to go deeper, Nuvance has posted an “executive summary” of the report done by a third-party consultant with expertise in rural healthcare (Stroudwater Associates) on its website, and that can be downloaded here:…
That meeting will be followed up with an in-person meeting at Sharon Town Hall on November 5 with the chief elected officials from affected towns in both CT and NY.  Because of COVID protocols, the meeting will be limited to those elected officials, but we hope to broadcast the meeting live (acoustics and connectivity remain a challenge we’re working out) or, at the very least, record and post it publicly. Please send any concerns or questions that you’d like raised to me, or to your First Selectman. 
In happier news, I learned this week that the state has applied, with Comcast as a sub-applicant, for federal funding to fully build out the broadband infrastructure for Salisbury, Sharon, Falls Village, North Canaan, and Norfolk (the towns in the 64th District where Comcast operates).  More information on the specifics of the application should be released in the next couple of weeks, with hopes for funding by year end. 
Here are a few of the many upcoming local events:

  • Friday, October 15, from 3:00-7:00pm a free COVID-19 Vaccination will take place at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. There will be an additional clinic on Friday, October 29 at the same time and place. Clinics will offer all three vaccines - Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as booster vaccinations for eligible populations according to CDC guidelines.
  • Saturday, October 16:
    • Shane Kinsella Walk to support Goshen’s Children’s fund, starting at 10am for the Kids Fun Run and 11am for the walk, at Camp Cochipianee in Goshen (more information on this in the newsletter).
    • Five Points Center for the Visual Arts on the former UConn campus on University Avenue in Torrington will hold its grand opening starting at 6:00 pm

Here’s a list of today’s topics:

  • COVID Update. Click here.
  • FAQ from Connecticut's Children's. Click here.
  • Nursing Home Vaccination Rates Online. Click here.
  • Fines for Distracted Drivers Increased. Click here.
  • New Funding for CT's Manufacturing Sector. Click here
  • CT's Contact Tracing Program Receives National Recognition. Click here
  • October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Click here
  • Substitute Teachers Needed. Click here.
  • Unemployment Benefits Overpayment Waiver. Click here
  • Shane Morehouse Kinsella Walk to Support Goshen's Children's  Fund on October 16. Click here
  • Buy a Burrito and Support United Way of NW CT. Click here

AnchorData updates on testing in Connecticut
The following is a summary of the day-to-day newly reported data on cases, deaths, and tests in Connecticut. It is important to note that these newly reported updates include data that occurred over the last several days to a week. All data in this report are preliminary, and data for previous dates will be updated as new reports are received and data errors are corrected.

Overall Summary Total Change Since Yesterday
COVID-19 Cases (confirmed and probable) 396,629 +908
COVID-19 Tests Reported (molecular and antigen) 11,453,513 +40,775
Daily Test Positivity -- 2.23%
Patients Currently Hospitalized with COVID-19 244 -1
Overall Summary Total Change Since Last Thursday
COVID-19 Associated Deaths* 8,707 +40


*Data on COVID-19 deaths is updated once per week every Thursday.
County-by-county breakdown of current COVID-19 hospitalizations:

County Current COVID-19 Hospitalizations
Fairfield County 52
Hartford County 63
Litchfield County 6
Middlesex County 9
New Haven County 70
New London County 34
Tolland County 1
Windham County 9
Total 244


For a series of interactive graphs and maps that provide additional data, including metrics related to age, gender, and race/ethnicity, as well as data broken down by every town and city in Connecticut, visit and click the link that is labeled, “Data Tracker.”
Data updates on breakthrough cases in Connecticut
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is reporting that as of October 14, 2021, a total of 15,089 cases of COVID-19 among fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have been confirmed. Of the nearly 2.4 million people in Connecticut who have completed their vaccine series, 0.64% of fully vaccinated persons in Connecticut have contracted the virus.
For more data on breakthrough cases in Connecticut, see pages 6 through 9 of this week’s extended COVID-19 data report.
Data updates on vaccine administration in Connecticut
The following data represents the total number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Connecticut, as reported to the state as of today:

Dose Total Administered
First dose administered 2,567,064
Fully vaccinated 2,374,148


As of today, Connecticut residents who have received at least one dose by age group includes:

  • >95% of those over the age of 65
  • 90% of those between 55-64
  • 82% of those between 45-54
  • 82% of those between 35-44
  • 75% of those between 25-34
  • 70% of those between 18-24
  • 79% of those between 16-17
  • 69% of those between 12-15

Source: Coverage data is based on what is reported to CT WiZ, except the estimated coverage for 65 years and older, which is taken from the CDC COVID Data Tracker.
All Connecticut residents over the age of 12 are currently eligible to receive the vaccines. To locate a vaccination clinic, visit
For information on variants, see pages 10 and 11 of this week’s extended COVID-19 data report.
Bi-weekly update on the impact of COVID-19 on nursing homes
The following documents contain the bi-weekly data regarding each of the nursing homes in Connecticut that have reported positive cases of COVID-19 among their residents. The data is presented as it was reported to the state by each of the facilities. These reports are issued every other Thursday.

**DownloadReport from October 14, 2021 on COVID-19 in Connecticut nursing homes


Weekly update of the Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Alert Map: 40 of 169 municipalities in red zone alert level
The Connecticut Department of Public Health today released its weekly COVID-19 Alert Map, which indicates that 40 municipalities are currently in the red zone alert level, the highest of the state’s four alert levels, including North Canaan and Sharon. 

AnchorFrequently asked questions re vaccines and children from Connecticut Children’s
Given the FDA’s anticipated review of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for ages 5-11, Connecticut Children’s has prepared a list of Frequently Asked Questions to help guide parents and families.  The document, which can be found here. answers some of the questions that are likely on parents’ minds, answered by Connecticut Children’s Infectious Diseases Specialist, Dr. John Schreiber, MD, MPH.
AnchorPublic can now check nursing home vaccination rates online
The Connecticut Department of Social Services and Connecticut Department of Public Health are applauding a new online tool developed by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that makes it easier to check COVID-19 vaccination rates of nursing home staff and residents.
CMS has begun posting the information at (part of the website). Note that Medicare and Medicaid-certified nursing homes have been required to report weekly COVID-19 vaccination data for both residents and staff since May.
Commissioner Gifford and Commissioner Juthani have joined Governor Lamont in calling on nursing home staff to get vaccinated to protect their residents, co-workers and their own families. Vaccination remains the most important defense against illness and in helping stop the spread of the Delta variant.
The most recent CMS data show that the average vaccination rate for Connecticut nursing home staff is 84.7%. Meanwhile, the national percentage of vaccinated nursing staff is only 67.1%.

AnchorFines for Distracted Driving Increased

As life starts to return to normal and the holidays arrive, many of us will be back on the road again. More time on the road means more opportunities for distracted driving. As of October 1, penalties for texting and driving increased in an effort to stop distracted driving.

Distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of accidents on our roads, with nearly 5,000 crashes attributed to distracted driving in Connecticut in 2020 alone.

Connecticut law prohibits the use of any hand-held mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age are prohibited from using a cell phone or mobile device at any time, even with a hands-free accessory.

The new fines for driving while distracted are:

  • For the first violation, offenders are fined $200 (was previously $150)
  • For a second violation, offenders are fined $375 (was previously $300)
  • For a third or subsequent violation, offenders are fined $625 (was previously $500)

Throughout the month of October, state and local police will be increasing enforcement of the new distracted driving law.

Please urge your family and friends to put their cell phones away while driving. No text message or phone call is worth putting yourself and others at risk.

For more information, visit

AnchorNew funding released to strengthen Connecticut’s manufacturing sector
The Connecticut Innovation Fund Advisory Board has voted to approve the release of $8.3 million in funding to support a series of technology and workforce initiatives designed to strengthen the long-term competitiveness Connecticut’s manufacturing sector, including several new programs.
The funding was approved through the state’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which received $20 million over the biennium in the budget signed into law this summer.
The new initiatives, which will receive a total of $3.7 million, include:

  • Increasing Engineering Internships for Connecticut Resident College Students: Engineering is named in more open Connecticut manufacturing job postings than any other category. Connecticut colleges and universities graduate a large number of degreed engineers, but a significant number of these graduates leave the state to begin their professional careers elsewhere. This initiative will provide grants or stipends to cover up to half the wages for summer engineering interns, who must be Connecticut residents. Increasing the number of interns employed at Connecticut manufacturers increases the likelihood that students take full-time positions in the state upon graduation.


  • Matching Grants for Digital Readiness and Cybersecurity Assessments: Connecticut manufacturers have may choices and factors to weigh when adopting new technologies. The Smart Industry Readiness Index (SIRI) helps companies assess their readiness for incorporation of Industry 4.0 technology, assess their current capabilities for digital transformation, benchmark their current status in key areas against other like manufacturers, prioritize areas for focus/investment, and provide a roadmap to incorporation. This matching grant program will underwrite up to 50% of the cost of such an assessment to lower the cost for manufacturers to access such an analysis. In addition, this program will be used for cybersecurity assessments and roadmaps.


  • Retain an Organization to Facilitate Matches Between Connecticut Innovators and Connecticut Manufacturers: Recently there has been an increase in requests from Connecticut innovators to be matched with Connecticut companies to manufacture their product and help bring the product to market. Currently there is no structured way to match these groups. The state is in discussions with a third-party vendor to create a two-year program to address this unmet need.


  • Advertising Campaign Highlighting Career Opportunities in Manufacturing: Access to a skilled workforce is the top issue for Connecticut manufacturers. Between state funding and federal funding, significant investments have been made in building out advanced manufacturing training centers across the state over the last decade. A sustained advertising campaign will drive up awareness, interest and enrollment and contribute to a stronger workforce talent pipeline in the future.


  • Comprehensive Manufacturing Website: Currently there isn’t one website where manufacturers can find answers to the myriad of issues and challenges they face. To address this need, the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development will work with the Department of Administrative Services to develop and maintain a comprehensive website organized around specific issues facing manufacturers such as workforce needs, access to capital, marketing, environmental issues, and technical support.


  • Regional Career Fairs: Career fairs have proven very successful in educating students about the many benefits of a career in the manufacturing sector. The Manufacturing Innovation Fund has agreed to make funds will be available to multi-employer manufacturing organizations to support regional career fairs in the coming years.

The Manufacturing Innovation Fund Advisory Board also approved investments in ongoing programs that provide valuable support to Connecticut manufacturers, most notably the Incumbent Worker Training Program ($1.5 million), Apprenticeship Program ($1.0 million) and Manufacturing Voucher Program ($2.1 million).
The State of Connecticut established the Manufacturing Innovation Fund to support the growth, innovation, and progress of Connecticut’s advanced manufacturing sector. It provides financial support for a broad range of initiatives that ensure Connecticut’s manufacturers remain leaders in productivity, efficiency, and innovation. It is administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development with the advice and counsel of an advisory board comprised of manufacturing business leaders.
AnchorConnecticut’s contact tracing and information technology teams receive national recognition
Connecticut’s contact tracing platform, ContaCT, won a State IT Recognition Award this week from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers in acknowledgement of the system’s development. The award was presented during the organization’s annual conference.
ContaCT was developed in the spring of 2020 during the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing that Connecticut’s most recent contact tracing system for vaccine preventable diseases – which included an antiquated paper-based process with spreadsheets to manage cases – was not up to the task of handling the volume of cases and contacts that COVID-19 was anticipated to produce, Governor Lamont directed an enterprise system be developed. The goal was to create a system that integrates with existing surveillance systems, facilitates real-time information sharing among health partners, enables sharing of contact tracers between state and local efforts, positions the state to quickly step in to help local health departments that became overwhelmed, and automates case and contact interviews to improve speed and efficiency.
In May 2020, using the governor’s emergency procurement authority, leaders from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and Connecticut Department of Administrative Services reviewed a dozen potential solutions in one weekend, contracted with the preferred solution in a week, and deployed Microsoft’s At Risk Identification Alert System. The cloud-based system, branded ContaCT, launched quickly with basic functionality and continued to improve during the summer.
The agile development process allowed the state to incrementally roll out functionality and address shifting priorities and functional needs. Within weeks, all 64 local health departments in Connecticut and the Connecticut Department of Public Health were using the same platform in a unique and successful state and local collaboration.
As a result of the system’s development, more than 250,000 individuals to date have been provided instructions for how to keep themselves and their families safe and prevent further spread of COVID-19, and connect them with resources they may need to stay safe.
For more information about Connecticut’s nomination and the development of ContaCT, click here.
AnchorOctober is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which began in 1945 to highlight the contributions of people with disabilities to the workforce and to raise awareness of the inequities they face. 
As our state continues to bounce back from the pandemic, it is critical that all individuals in our community have access to employment opportunities. Ensuring that everyone has the necessary employment resources benefits both individual families and our state as a whole. 

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Connecticut Department of Labor and Department of Aging and Disability Services have announced that Connecticut’s 9th annual Disability Employment Resource Fair  will be held on October 22.

The fair will be a virtual event this year. The presentation will include information about resources such as free employment services, transportation, legal rights, assistive technology, education and more!

To register for  the fair please click here.

ASL Interpreters will be provided and a PowerPoint of the event will be sent out to all attendees following the event. If you need large print or a Word document, please contact Jill Larmett at
In addition to the annual Disability Employment Resource Fair, assistance for jobseekers is available virtually and in-person, including at:

  • The Connecticut Department of Labor’s American Job Centers (appointments are recommended). More information is available at
  • CTHires, which serves as a one-stop resource to search for jobs, create a resume, and find training. More information is available at
  • Additional job fair that are scheduled frequently across the state. For a full schedule, visit

AnchorHave you thought about being a substitute teacher?

Regional School District Six put out a reminder this week that the state faces a shortage of substitutes, noting that if you’ve ever thought about taking the plunge, now would be an excellent time! If you are interested in being a substitute for either Region Six, or the Litchfield Public Schools, district, please reach out via email to human resources at the following link.  You could make a difference in the lives of our students.

AnchorUnemployment Benefits Overpayment Waiver

The Connecticut Department of Labor has recently reported that around 13,000 unemployment benefit recipients received overpayments throughout the pandemic. These claims constitute about $30 million in accidental overpayments. It is important to note that while this amount looks daunting, most of these overpayments were caused by simple errors at little to no fault of the claimant.
Since the announcement, many of you have reached out with concerns about overpayments and are wondering, will I have to pay this money back?
The short answer is, not necessarily. You may qualify for a "non-fraud overpayment waiver."

What is a waiver?
A waiver forgives part, or all, of the overpayment debt accrued by an unemployment claimant.
Overpayment may be eligible for a waiver if:

  • There was an unintentional error on the part of the claimant, employer, or CTDOL.
  • There was no attempt to obtain unemployment benefits to which the claimant knew they were not eligible (fraud).
  • The Employment Security Appeals Division reverses a decision to grant unemployment benefits and that leaves the claimant with an overpayment debt.

Can I get a waiver?
Waivers will be considered for accidental overpayments only. CTDOL notifies claimants that they may be eligible for a waiver during the pre-determination process and sends a questionnaire that the claimant fills out and returns. Most waivers are granted for:

  • A mental or physical condition which would significantly reduce opportunity for employment.
  • An error on the part of CTDOL or the Appeals Division.
  • Claimant bankruptcy.
  • Economic grounds when it’s against equity and good conscience to have an overpayment repaid.

The questionnaire and hearing request must be completed and returned together to CTDOL within 14 days of the mail date (this is on the upper right corner of the pre-determination letter.) 
What if I didn’t get a questionnaire with my pre-determination letter?
If you didn’t receive a waiver questionnaire, this means CTDOL claims you may not be eligible for one. If you believe this is not correct and that you are eligible for a waiver based on the criteria above, you are encouraged to reach out to the Consumer Contact Center with questions.
Please also remember that you can reach out to me if you need any assistance moving forward with this process, I will do all I can to help.

AnchorShane Morehouse Kinsella Walk to support Goshen’s Children’s Fund on October 16

The Shane Morehouse Kinsella Walk to support Goshen's Children's Fund is this Saturday, October 16 at Camp Cochipianee in Goshen.  The Kids Fun Run is at 10 am, and the walk begins at 11 am. The walk is either 2 or 5 miles: you can run if you want, but there is no official timing.

The Fund has assisted in paying for children's swim and ski lessons, camp and drivers ed expenses and college needs.

AnchorBuy a burrito and support the United Way of Northwest CT!
On Saturday, October 16, from 4 – 8 pm, the United Way of Northwest CT is hosting a fundraiser through the Chipotle in Torrington (131 East Main Street).  If you buy a burrito during that time, and tell the cashier you’re supporting the cause, Chipotle will donate 33% of the proceeds to the United Way.

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 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.