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Everyone 16 And Up Eligible For COVID Vaccine; FEMA Reimbursement Announced



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As Connecticut logged over 312,000 COVID-19 cases and hits 7,900 related deaths as of April 1, the state opened up access to its growing network of vaccination centers for anyone age 16 and over.

That turning point came just a day after Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, a step toward possibly beginning shots in this age group before they head back to school in the fall.

As of April 1, the total of COVID-19 cases reported among Connecticut residents was 312,468; 492 patients were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 at that time, and the number of state residents lost to the virus stood at 7,900.

Locally, 1,818 Newtown residents had tested positive for the virus, and the community counted 65 local COVID-19 related deaths.

Individuals 16 and 17 years old seeking appointments are reminded that they should only sign up for a clinic offering the vaccine made by Pfizer, as that is the only vaccine that has been approved for those ages by the US Food and Drug Administration. Connecticut is currently ranked second in the nation in percentage of population that has received at least one dose.

“Connecticut’s health care providers have been doing a tremendous job getting the vaccine to our residents, and the reason why our state is among the most vaccinated in the country is because of the remarkable work they have been doing,” Governor Lamont said.

Lamont reassured newly eligible residents and older unvaccinated individuals who are new to the system that he anticipates an initial rush of people attempting to make appointments during the first couple of days, similar to what transpired with each previous expansion to other age groups.

“I urge everyone to please be patient and check back, as new appointments are being added every day,” he said. “Thanks to the efforts of the Biden administration, the number of doses being delivered to Connecticut is significantly increasing each week, and I am confident that within this next month we will get the vaccine to everyone who wants it.”

“With the recent increase in cases in Connecticut, it is crucial that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one as quickly as possible,” Connecticut Acting Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said.

“Through everyone’s efforts, we are now able to offer vaccine to all adults months earlier than originally planned. While general availability of vaccines is a cause for celebration, we must also remember to keep up our guard against the spread of COVID-19,” she added. “Even after you are vaccinated, you should continue to wear masks, social distance, avoid large gatherings, and test and isolate if you are sick.”

New Vaccine Sites

Concurrent with new eligibility, Lamont said more than one hundred additional pharmacies will begin offering vaccinations. Individuals are reminded that appointments must be made in advance to receive the vaccine at all locations statewide.

Pharmacies being added to Connecticut’s COVID-19 vaccination program include these sites closest to Newtown, as well as dozens of others across the state:

• Big Y Pharmacy: 81 Stony Hill Road, Bethel

• Big Y Pharmacy: 85 Bridge Street, Naugatuck

• Brass City Pharmacy: 558 Chase Avenue, Waterbury

• Brass Mill Pharmacy: 1405 East Main Street Unit 3, Waterbury

• Bridgeport Pharmacy: 978 East Main Street, Bridgeport

• Candlewood Drugs: 11 State Route 37, New Fairfield

• Della Pietra Pharmacy: 792 Highland Avenue, Waterbury

• Hancock Pharmacy: 1020 Fairfield Avenue, Bridgeport

• Hancock Pharmacy: 95 Wakelee Avenue, Ansonia

• Main Street Pharmacy: 2117 Boston Avenue, Bridgeport

• Oxford Pharmacy: 100 Oxford Road, Oxford

• Rite Aid: 215 Federal Road, Brookfield

• Rite Aid: 277 Fairfield Avenue, Waterbury

• Rite Aid: 289 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel

• Rite Aid: 508 Monroe Turnpike, Monroe

• Rite Aid: 56 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck

• Seybridge Pharmacy Jewelry & Gifts: 37 New Haven Road, Seymour

• Shop Rite: 775 Main Street South, Southbury

• Shop Rite: 875 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton

• Woodbury Drug: 682 Main Street South, Woodbury

To schedule a vaccine appointment, Connecticut residents should visit ct.gov/covidvaccine and enter their zip code in the space provided. From there, they will be shown a list of the closest available clinics and instructions for how to make an appointment at each clinic.

Those without access to the internet can call Connecticut’s Vaccine Appointment Assist Line at 877-918-2224. The assist line is available seven days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm. Appointments are required in advance at all vaccination clinics in the state.

FEMA Funeral Reimbursements

Town Clerk Debbie Halstead and Selectman Maureen Crick Owen, who is the president of the Connecticut Cemetery Association, both notified The Newtown Bee on March 31 that FEMA has a program where a family member may be reimbursed for funeral expenses for a family member’s death that was attributable to COVID-19.

Halstead expects the program to be available to applicants for assistance by mid-April. She noted, however, that applicants are required to provide a death certificate with COVID-19 listed on it. FEMA is also warning that scammers are already reaching out contacting unsuspecting family members offering assistance with funeral expenses, and to not engage or respond to these callers.

FEMA will not contact anyone until they have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date, or social security number of any deceased family member to any unsolicited telephone calls or e-mails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA.

If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.

Learn more about that benefit at fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

Supporting Outdoor Dining

On March 30, State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28), ranking senate leader on the Connecticut General Assembly’s Planning & Development Committee, joined colleagues in a bipartisan and collaborative vote to support the amended HB 6610 (LCO 6080), intended to support restaurant businesses and enable them to survive the devastating health and economic effects of COVID-19.

The measure was signed by Lamont the following day and took effect immediately. Hwang issued the following statement on the unanimous vote taken by the state senate:

“The COVID-19 pandemic impacted all aspects of our lives for the past year, and although every sector of our state was negatively affected, the restaurant industry was especially devastated when forced to shut their doors for months. This industry stared down an extensive period of uncertainty, which pushed many businesses near or past the point of collapse,” Hwang said.

“While many across Connecticut’s various business sectors met the challenge, none other rose to the occasion like our state’s food service industry. Despite nearly 600-plus restaurants that were forced to close this past year, many restaurants, in order to survive, sought out creative solutions and made personal sacrifices to offer contactless take out options, to manage costs by streamlining menus and staff, and to invest in their infrastructure to make sure that once they could open their doors, people could safely dine out with confidence.

“As amended, this measure will not only extend current outdoor dining and beverage service capabilities for the upcoming outdoor dining season, it makes the zoning exemption application process free of cost and more streamlined for restaurant-permitted businesses who are embarking on expanding their outdoor offerings while still preserving municipal local input over the decision-making to ensure zoning and traffic safety and consumer protection,” Hwang said.

From behind a face mask and a table in place to provide spacing and a convenient place for hand sanitizer, Franco’s Pizza & Pasta employee Elizabeth Siemon greets a customer picking up an order on March 24. With COVID-19 still very much a factor locally with almost 1,800 positive cases locally, the Sand Hill Plaza restaurant is continuing to focus on takeout and delivery versus table service.—Bee Photo, Hicks
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