Lamont: Connecticut can meet Biden’s May 1 vaccination goal
Gov. Ned Lamont said he believes Connecticut can meet President Joe Biden’s challenge to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccines by May 1, a deadline that already closely matches the state’s vaccination rollout plan.
“On behalf of the people of Connecticut: I accept this challenge,” Lamont said in a statement released in response to the president’s address to the nation on Thursday evening. Both are Democrats.
“Achieving universal access to vaccines for all adults by May is a bold, aggressive goal coming from President Biden, and this is the kind of leadership that is necessary to get our state and our country back to normal,” Lamont said.
Under the state’s age-based vaccine rollout schedule, Connecticut already planned to allow people age 16 and older to make a vaccination appointment on May 3. Currently, people age 55 and older are eligible. That moves to 45 years and older on March 22, and 35 years and older on April 12.
In other coronavirus-related news:
Some Connecticut lawmakers and the state’s restaurant association are raising concerns about the General Assembly’s latest effort to phase out single-use food containers, noting that many restaurants continue to rely heavily on their takeout orders due to the pandemic.
Rep. Stephen Harding, R-Brookfield, the top House Republican on the Environment Committee, said while the legislation would not bar restaurants from using expanded polystyrene containers until 2023, he still believes it makes sense to wait on passing the bill.
“My biggest concern here is implementing legislation that would put further costs and mandates on these restaurants just as they’re trying to open their doors once again and trying to make some level of profit,” said Harding, noting the uncertainty of when the pandemic will finally be over.
“This could last longer than we all expect, unfortunately,” Harding said. He urged lawmakers to wait on passing the bill until “we’re on the other side of this pandemic,” possibly during the next session. Harding pledged to support the bill at that time.
The Connecticut Restaurant Association has raised similar concerns.
Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, the committee’s top Senate Democrat and the owner of a bagel restaurant, said lawmakers purposely waited until July 1, 2023, to ban the use of expanded polystyrene containers because of the financial challenges restaurants have faced during the pandemic.
But she noted the material is “incredibly harmful” to the environment and must be addressed.
“There is currently no recycling available for these expanded polystyrene products,” she said. “Therefore it lives forever more in our environment.”
With mostly Democratic support, the bill advanced to the House of Representatives for further action.
The legislation would also require school districts to come up with a plan by July 1, 2022, to discontinue using expanded polystyrene trays in cafeterias and require restaurants by Jan. 1, 2022, to only provide plastic straws if a customer requests one, with an exception for people with disabilities.
The state Department of Public Health announced Friday it has learned of four more cases of the B.1.351 COVID variant, commonly known as the South African variant. Identified among individuals from Ansonia, Danbury, Greenwich and New Milford, this variant has now been confirmed in a total of six cases in Connecticut.
Meanwhile, DPH reported 93 additional cases of the B.1.1.7 variant commonly known as the UK variant, bringing the total to 174 confirmed cases. This latest group of infected individuals live in communities scattered across Connecticut, with the largest number of new cases — 16 — identified in Waterbury.
Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new COVID-19 cases has decreased by 337.7, a decrease of 32.6%, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins. As of Friday, there were 381 people hospitalized, a decline of one since Thursday. New Haven County had the largest number, at 167 patients.
The number of COVID-associated deaths increased by four to 7,765.