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Needleman: Jan. 12, 2021 — COVID-19 Update, Virtual Roundtable Discussion with Local Breweries

By Norm Needleman, State Senator.

COVID-19 Update

Today, January 12, Connecticut reported 3,689 new cases of COVID-19 discovered during testing on Monday. Those new cases were found as the state administered 34,422 tests, resulting in a daily positive test ratio of 10.72 percent. Tragically, 31 people died from COVID-19 complications yesterday, bringing the pandemic death total in our state to 6,449. Currently, 1,154 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, an increase of 12 for the day.

Pfizer, BioNTech Boost Vaccine Output Goal To 2 Billion Doses This Year

Pfizer and BioNTech, the producers of the successful Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, announced this week they plan to boost their output projection goals for the vaccine’s doses to 2 billion in 2021, a stark improvement over their initially-predicted goal of 1.3 billion doses. The 700 million additional doses hoped to be produced in this year would effectively provide protection against COVID-19 for 350 million additional people worldwide, as the vaccine requires two doses before full immunity results are seen. This new goal also takes into account a production quirk – while each vial of COVID-19 vaccine is labeled to hold five doses, scientists found that they actually hold six doses, increasing available allotments by as much as 20 percent.

Beware of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scams

Beware of scammers trying to contact you posing as COVID-19 contact tracers. They are requesting private information including financial information and social security numbers. Contact tracers will ask you about medical symptoms and anyone with whom you’ve had contact with. They will not ask for personal financial information or your Social Security number. Calls or requests for private information like social security numbers or financial information are fraudulent in nature and should be reported to your local police department. Tips to avoid scam calls include:

  • Never share your personal or financial information via email, text messages, or over the phone.
  • Be cautious if you’re being pressured to share any information or make a payment immediately.
  • Scammers often alter their number to trick you into answering or responding. Remember that government agencies will never call you to ask for personal information or money.

Virtual Roundtable Discussion with Local Breweries

Yesterday, I joined the owners of Concentric Brewing Company of Portland, Little House Brewing Co. of Chester, High Nine Brewing of Deep River, and 30 Mile Brewing Co. of Old Saybrook for a virtual roundtable discussion to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted them and potential ways for the state to support them during these challenging times.

Connecticut’s independent breweries are one of the state’s most significant business success stories in recent memory, and we cannot allow them to suffer and struggle amid the continuing pandemic. The owners reported serious problems they’ve encountered, both in the process of trying to remain open amid the pandemic and issues with regulations not giving them proper time to respond and react. We discussed problems and sought solutions, and while those solutions may come from federal or state sources, they’re necessary to keep Connecticut small businesses alive.

State and Local Developments

Connecticut Water Payment Plans Available

Connecticut Water has payment plans in place to support customers experiencing financial hardships through its “H2O – Help 2 Our Customers” program, providing financial assistance and/or payment plans to help customers maintain uninterrupted water service. COVID-19 extended payment plans are available for customers with past-due balances until at least February 9, while Connecticut Water’s partnership with Operation Fuel allows for further programs to provide emergency energy and utility assistance to households facing financial issues. Information and contact forms regarding the program are available at www.ctwater.com.

Open Enrollment Period For 2021 Health Insurance Ends Friday

The annual Open Enrollment period for health insurance through Access Health Connecticut ends at midnight on Friday, January 15, the last day of enrollment after an extension of the open enrollment period in December. If new customers sign up for health insurance plans before the deadline, their new coverage will start February 1. To get immediate help, visit accesshealthct.com or call 1-855-805-4325.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is the month meant to raise awareness of human trafficking, a serious issue that impacts thousands locally and millions worldwide every year. As part of the month, the Department of Children and Families noted many are asked to wear blue to support the effort and hopefully prevent future instances of this terrible practice.

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