Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration has released documents detailing specific rules that eligible businesses falling under phase 1 of Connecticut’s reopening plans must follow amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase – which includes restaurants; offices; hair salons and barbershops; retail stores; and outdoor museums and zoos – is currently planned to take effect beginning May 20.
By Wayne Simone
Waterbury resident Robert Vonaa is a recovery specialist at Rushford in Meriden. His job is to help residents who have mental health issues or addiction problems recover and return to society.
That's his full-time gig. Vonaa also helped start New Beginnings, a food pantry for the hungry in New Britain, more than twenty years ago. This was inspired by a brief bout he had with homelessness a few years earlier. "I was there in the same shoes.,” Vonaa said. “I was lucky and made it out, but many of the people I see don't have the where-with-all to break out of homelessness. Sometimes it’s the skills, sometimes it's the hand that they were dealt, and other times it's their desire or their lack of desire.
Today, FEMA announced Connecticut has been approved for its Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training program. The program helps fund state-provided crisis counseling services to residents struggling with stress and anxiety as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Testing Results (as of June 4)
Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Waterbury: 2,018
Confirmed Waterbury Resident Deaths Associated with COVID-19: 182
As the State of Connecticut continues taking actions in response to the global spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Governor Ned Lamont provided the following updates as of 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 4, 2020:
The following is a summary of the day-to-day newly reported data on cases, deaths, and tests in Connecticut. It is important to note that these newly reported updates include data that occurred over the last several days to a week.
This morning, Congresswoman Hayes released the following statement:
“This week, my husband, a first responder in the City of Waterbury was exposed to and tested positive for COVID-19 at his workplace. I am incredibly grateful that at this time he seems to be healthy and asymptomatic. Given my exposure, I was also tested and it was thankfully negative. Out of an abundance of caution, and in keeping in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, my family and I will be quarantining at home for the next 14 days and self-monitoring for symptoms. I will continue working remotely, talking with constituents and community leaders, and communicating daily with colleagues as we work on the next relief package to combat the health and economic crisis that our country is in.
Tulips at the Chase Building in downtown Waterbury.
Column by John Murray
Late April in New England is a time of renewal. After six months of slumber our lawns and meadows turn green, daffodils and tulips poke their heads up and flower, and our forests (70% of Connecticut) are electric with anticipation as our oak and maple and cherry trees produce more leaves than there are stars in the night sky.
Matt O'Toole on Easter morning with all his possessions.
Story and Photographs by John Murray
Matt O’Toole sat outside the largest homeless shelter in Connecticut wondering how he was going to spend the next 10 hours. It was Easter Sunday and it was cold and raw outside. The St. Vincent DePaul Shelter in the South End of Waterbury boots all single men out of the facility every morning at 7 am, and O’Toole couldn’t get back in until 5 pm.
O’Toole has been homeless off and on for much of the past year. “I made bad decisions,” O’Toole said. “Most of us in here have made a lot of bad decisions. I had an addiction problem.”
Carmine Capobianco is a columnist at The Waterbury Observer and the author of the book, "Tall and Short Tales of My Hometown", based on growing up in Waterbury. Carmine wrote this piece about being quarantined at home during the pandemic:
I was the first person sent home to do my work. I’m on chemotherapy so my white cells dropped. I also have diabetes. So, if I get the Coronavirus, I’m a goner. That’s it. Done.
So I went home and my bosses have been great. Probably because they don’t want it to kill me.
Dr. David Hill at Waterbury Hospital in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Dr. David Hill is a pulmonary and critical care physician treating COVID-19 patients at Waterbury Hospital. Dr. Hill is the Director of Clinical Research at Waterbury Pulmonary Associates and has been quoted in Time Magazine and the New York Times during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Hill wrote this brilliant Facebook post Saturday night (April 18th) at 10:00 PM, and it was shared more than 2000 times. We picked up his post and published it on The Waterbury Observer Facebook page and it was shared an additional 11,000 times and reached 750,000 people around the world, including France and Spain and all across America. The power of social media in action. His observations are illuminating, and his message is as sharp as an ice pick. Buckle up, Dr. Hill is going to take you on a ride to the front lines ...
Governor Ned Lamont today announced that a new software improvement at the Connecticut Department of Labor was launched last night that will significantly increase the speed at which unemployment claim applications can be processed. Paired with the continued manual processing, the originally anticipated six-week wait period will be shortened to one week or less.
It has been three weeks since Connecticut Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Waterbury launched the COVID-19 Response Fund and it has already provided more than $180,000 for area soup kitchens, emergency food pantries, extra food and supplies at emergency shelters, food deliveries for seniors and families sheltering in place, and child-care services for frontline healthcare workers.
The fund is fueled by the Connecticut Community Foundation, the United Way of Greater Waterbury, and by donations and gifts from the community.
Story by John Murray
Thirteen COVID-19 related deaths in Waterbury should be a wake-up call to the city, particularly (and hopefully) to those who have not been following social distancing guidelines.
Governor Lamont Urges Volunteers From the General Public to Participate in Connecticut’s COVID-19 Response Efforts
Volunteers of All Backgrounds Can Register at ct.gov/coronavirus
Governor Ned Lamont and a large number of state officials and nonprofit providers are urging Connecticut residents to consider taking on a volunteer role in their communities to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis. While the state already began a campaign seeking out volunteers who have health care experience, today the state is launching a campaign seeking volunteers from the general public who are needed for other services at many different types of providers, such as food banks, deliveries to the elderly, shelters, and more.
Jim O’Rourke is the executive director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA and on March 13th he was still adjusting his staff and programs to the landscape being bulldozed by the Coronavirus pandemic.
He had stopped senior fitness classes, a cancer survivor program, large gatherings in the YMCA, and closed down the gymnasium and the daycare center. Staff was being laid off (200 out of 300 employees), and he was just a few days away from closing the fitness center and pool.
Then O’Rourke’s phone rang.
Naugatuck Valley Community College President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D. informed students, faculty and staff that she will be retiring as President of Naugatuck Valley Community College effective August 1, 2020. President De Filippis noted “This has been a difficult decision, but it is time for us to move back to New York to be closer to family, and for me to accept with gratitude an invitation to return to my CUNY family.”
Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration has reached an agreement with over 50 credit unions and banks in Connecticut to offer mortgage relief to the state’s residents and businesses who continue to face hardship caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agreement, the following relief policies are being offered by participating financial institutions:
Latest Data as of 3PM on Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Lester Schindel, a longtime New England healthcare executive, has been named interim CEO of Waterbury Hospital. Schindel previously served as interim CEO at Waterbury Hospital in 2017 soon after Prospect acquired the hospital. In collaboration with its Waterbury Hospital executives, Prospect will conduct a national search for a permanent CEO at Waterbury.
Photographs By John Murray
Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary was sworn in to his 4th term in office on Sunday, December 1st, in a ceremony at Waterbury City Hall. Afterwards O'Leary paraded through the streets and across the Green with his wife Kathy to attend a mass at the Immaculate Conception Church as a major snowstorm unloaded on the region. O'Leary grimaced as the first snowflakes whacked into his face, but as he proceeded through the streets he laughed and smiled and unleashed a child's joy of a snow day in New England.