Submitted by Norm Needleman, State Senator.
I hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy. Before I go into an update on COVID-19 and investments in early childhood programs, I want to share about the state Senate’s bipartisan approval of House Bill 6610, “An Act Concerning the Provision of Outdoor Food and Beverage Service by Restaurants.” The bill, which has no fiscal impact, establishes a process by which local zoning officials can allow or expand outdoor dining at restaurants. It also specifies that any outdoor dining activity previously authorized by executive order will be approved though March 31, 2022.
I am proud to have introduced the bill on the Senate floor and voted in support.
As the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year, outdoor dining was a lifeline for many restaurants around the state, enabling them to stay afloat and even driving business on some Main Streets and downtown areas, desperately needed amid the economic downturn of the time. We need to continue to extend this lifeline to our restaurants and allow them to continue to benefit from this legislation, now and in the future, and I look forward to seeing the governor sign this bill into law.
All Connecticut residents age 16 and older will become eligible for vaccination appointments starting tomorrow, April 1. The new timeline will allow Connecticut adults to begin making vaccination appointments four days earlier than expected.
Accelerated Vaccination Access for Medically High-Risk Individuals
Priority access to COVID-19 vaccinations will be extended to individuals between the ages of 16 and 44 beginning tomorrow, April 1 as the state extends access to the COVID-19 vaccine to all adults over the age of 16. After meeting with hospital leaders statewide, state officials have determined medically high-risk conditions including sickle cell disease, end state renal disease on dialysis, active cancer treatment, solid organ transplant, Down syndrome and all patients of Connecticut Children’s and Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital will receive priority planning in the vaccination process. Hospitals will contact patients with those conditions directly. Additionally, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities will be able to receive vaccinations at dedicated clinics organized by the Department of Social Services.
State to Invest $210 In Funding in Early Childhood Programs
The state will invest $210 million in federal funding, intended to support pandemic recovery efforts, into early childhood programs across Connecticut to aid business owners and childcare experts through the end of the pandemic and beyond.
The funding will include a two-year $50 million investment in child care through the Care 4 Kids program, supporting parents who have experienced loss of employment and will need care while they seek higher education or workforce training; $120 million invested in operational stabilization grants for struggling child care businesses impacted by the pandemic; $26 million over two years in high-quality child care programs; $6 million in support and coaching to programs working to secure accreditation; and $8 million to pay Care 4 Kids family fees from April 1 to September 30 this year.
International Transgender Day of Visibility
Today, March 31, marks International Transgender Day of Visibility, dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of transgender and gender-nonconforming people and raising awareness of the work still needed to achieve justice and true equality for the trans community. Today is a day of learning and understanding the challenges of others who have fought, and continue to fight, for their rights.