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Needleman: COVID-19 Vaccine Update, Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Resumes Service, State Parks 2021 Update

By Norm Needleman, State Senator.

Please see below for an update regarding the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to Connecticut residents, including a new clinic in Westbrook and upcoming vaccination clinics open to all military veterans.

Additionally, I want to share a couple new developments related to our area including on the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry resuming seasonal operation.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

As of April 8, the state has administered 2,230,742 total doses of COVID-19 vaccines across the state, including 1,421,831 first doses and 883,169 residents fully vaccinated now. Those figures include 74,258 administrations of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Just under half, 49 percent, of adults over the age of 16 have received their first dose, with 82 percent of residents over the age of 65, 69 percent of residents between the ages of 55-64, 51 percent of residents between the ages of 45-54 and 23 percent of residents between the ages of 16-44 receiving first doses. The state continues to expect its vaccine supplies to exceed demand by late April.

Middlesex Health Opens Second COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

Middlesex Health has opened a second COVID-19 vaccine clinic, located on the second floor of the Middlesex Health Shoreline Medical Center at 250 Flat Rock Place in Westbrook. This new clinic is in addition to the current one operating at 117 Main Street Extension in Middletown; both clinics will offer vaccinations Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make appointments, use MyChart, the health system’s patient portal, or call the Middlesex Health Vaccine Scheduling Center at 860-358-7050 during business hours. The scheduling center is open until appointments available have been filled. For more information on Middlesex Health and COVID-19 vaccines, please visit middlesexhealth.org/vaccine.

Vaccine Clinics Open to All Military Veterans, Spouses and Caregivers

Veterans Affairs has announced upcoming clinics for COVID-19 vaccinations that will be open to all military veterans, veteran spouses and veteran caregivers. The schedule, as follows, will feature clinics on the following days, with specific events providing specific types of vaccine:

  • April 12, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., West Haven campus, 950 Campbell Avenue, Donaldson Center, Building 2, Second Floor (Pfizer)
  • April 13, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Newington campus, 555 Willard Avenue, Bldg. 2E basement (Johnson and Johnson)
  • April 14-16 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., West Haven campus, 950 Campbell Avenue, Donaldson Center, Bldg. 2, Second Floor (Pfizer)
  • April 15, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Newington campus, 555 Willard Avenue, Bldg. 2E basement (Moderna)
  • April 17, 8:00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Harding High School, 379 Bond Street, Bridgeport (Johnson and Johnson)

Connecticut River Ferries Resume Seasonal Operation

As of Thursday, April 8, the Department of Transportation’s two ferry services on the Connecticut River have resumed seasonal operation. The Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry, the oldest continuously operating ferry in the nation, was originally expected to begin operation on April 1 but was delayed a week due to elevated water levels on the river. It has opened as of April 8. The sister Connecticut River ferry service from Chester to Hadlyme opened for the season on April 1. Pedestrians, cyclists and automobiles are welcome for the season, anticipated to continue to November 30; masks are required for riders for the safety of crew and passengers.

Local Bridge Construction and Maintenance Updates

The Department of Transportation will begin its next phase of construction on the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown and Portland on Tuesday, April 13, continuing through September 2021, while bridge maintenance is scheduled for the bridge carrying Nod Road over Interstate 95 in Clinton beginning Monday, April 19 and concluding Friday, May 28.

The Department of Transportation’s Stage 3 of the Arrigoni Bridge construction will consist of placing temporary barriers on the bridge in each direction to allow work on the eastbound lanes of the bridge’s approach spans. The bridge will reduce itself to one travel lane in each direction, with periodic alternating one-way traffic sometimes necessary in overnight hours. After this stage is completed, with an estimated completion date of September 2021, the project will progress to finalizing and completing remaining rehabilitation.

In Clinton, Bridge 00220, which carries Nod Road over Interstate 95, will see bridge maintenance begin April 19 with a tentative completion date of Friday, May 28, with work ongoing between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Motorists can expect various lane closures on Interstate 95 southbound between the Exit 63 off-ramp and the bridge, and northbound from the Exit 62 off-ramp to the bridge. Traffic control staff and signing patterns will be utilized to guide motorists through the work zone, and motorists should be aware that modifications or extensions to the schedule may become necessary due to potential delays.

Summer State Parks Planning Full Services in 2021

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced today that the state parks and boat launches around Connecticut will provide full services to visitors during the 2021 season, with some state campgrounds opening as soon as April 9. While personal and group compliance with COVID-19, including mask wearing and social distancing, will remain necessary, the state plans to open state parks for wider use. There is a current 200-person limit for outdoor group activities; most park buildings, museums, nature centers and other enclosed structures including restrooms will be opened on Memorial Day weekend.

Swimming will be permitted at shoreline and inland state parks, though mask use will be encouraged when wading in water below the waist or when wading areas are crowded; lifeguards will be on duty at beaches depending on staffing; state park and forest campgrounds, rustic cabins, youth groups, river camping and backpack camping will open for the 2021 season on a reservation-only basis; state boat launches will remain open to the public; and boaters will be encouraged to visit many of Connecticut’s 117 state boat launches.

Eased restrictions include reopened indoor and outdoor structures where the public tends to congregate, such as Dinosaur State Park and Gillette Castle; picnic shelters available for small groups and rental, as well as picnicking being allowed in parks and forests; special use license and marine event permit applications will be accepted; and outdoor environmental education programs will be permitted with adherence to continuing guidelines.

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