By Norm Needleman, State Senator.
I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. Before I share an update on the state’s response to COVID-19, unemployment assistance, and new developments in our area. I want to offer a few words about today’s inauguration of our country’s new president and vice-president.
Joe Biden has spent his career building bridges and finding common ground. My hope is this administration can do that and help heal the country. It is time we realize that a house divided cannot stand. President Biden and Vice-President Harris have a lot of work ahead of them, but I know, with the help of their incredibly talented team, and the support of the American people, they will be successful.
Connecticut Tentative Schedule for Vaccination Planning
Though its exact timing will depend on vaccine supply from the federal government and rates of people who choose to be vaccinated, Connecticut has released more information about its vaccination scheduling. Those currently eligible to receive the vaccine are individuals over the age of 75, health care workers, and individuals who reside in long term care facilities. Individuals over the age of 65 will likely be able to sign up for their shots in early February.
Front line essential workers and people between the ages of 18 and 65 with conditions putting them at higher risk will be able to sign up in late February or early March, while future phases, for individuals under the age of 65 who are not front line workers and who do not have high-risk conditions, are likely to go into effect in May and June.
No Cost Testing Supported by the State of Connecticut
Connecticut continues to provide no-cost testing to those who need it, including those living in densely populated areas, are living in congregate settings, or don’t have access to insurance. If you fall into one of these categories, or your town is experiencing an outbreak – you should get tested regularly – especially if you have symptoms. Residents can visit www.ct.gov/prioritytesting to find no-cost testing sites.
Priority Workforce Testing
Connecticut recently launched a testing program to provide priority access testing for the following priority workforce categories:
- Teachers/School Support Staff (including Bus Drivers)
- Early Childhood/Child Care Professionals
- Police Officers
- Fire Fighters
- National Guard
Priority access is intended for staff who need to get tested quickly, in order to ensure their work day is not interrupted – but is not intended for the family and friends of said workers. Priority Workforce testing sites can be found using the search tool at ct.gov/priorityworkforcetest. Users can enter their zip code and find the closest priority workforce testing sites to them.
New Feature to Help Residents with Unemployment Claims
The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) has launched a new Consumer Contact Center tool that will help residents who need unemployment claims assistance. The
new feature allows people to schedule a call back up to two weeks out. To use the tool, you can access it through the www.FileCTUI.com page. This new call back feature handles all filers except PUA claimants.
Currently, the Contact Center phone system accepts callers for immediate assistance, puts overflow callers on a call back list, and diverts the remaining callers to the online chat platform. With the new scheduling feature, customers can schedule a call back on the website and know they have an upcoming appointment.
Portland, Old Saybrook Receive Significant Investments in Pedestrian Safety, Access
I’m happy to announce the state has awarded significant grants to Old Saybrook and Portland through the Community Connectivity Grant Program, which provides construction funding for initiatives improving safety and accessibility for bicyclists and pedestrians around community centers, also improving equal access to safe, affordable transportation. Old Saybrook will see sidewalk installation and improvement along Elm Street and Boston Post Road, while Portland will see “fill-in-the-gaps” on Routes 17 and 66 to support safe sidewalks connecting to schools, businesses and transit routes.
Grossman Chevrolet Nissan Hosting “Cram A Van” Food Drive
Grossman Chevrolet Nissan is currently running its fourth annual “Cram A Van” event, where members of the community are asked to make donations of nonperishable food items for the Saybrook Soup Kitchens and Pantries. Many pantries seeing increased demand in current days are seeking additional food items to help out those in need right now, much of that demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please drop off
donations at 295 Middlesex Turnpike or 300 Middlesex Turnpike in Old Saybrook. The food drive is currently running until Sunday, January 31.