COVID-19 Changes in Connecticut – NBC Connecticut
COVID-19 Changes in Connecticut – NBC Connecticut

COVID-19 Changes in Connecticut – NBC Connecticut

NBC Connecticuts Dan Corcoran Interviewed Health and Human Services Asst. Health Secretary Rachel Levine on COVID-19 changes in Connecticut.

Here is the conversation:

DAN CORCORAN: Admiral Rachel Levine, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health joins us now. Admiral, thank you very much for talking to us. Connecticut is undergoing a lot of changes when it comes to COVID-19. The mandate for masks in schools is lifted and soon. These decisions will be up to the individual municipalities. So what are your thoughts on that? And how do you think schools need to continue to get through the rest of this year?

ADM. RACHEL LEVINE: We certainly see Omicron cases being rejected across the country. But the variance is still responsible for high rates of hospitalizations and deaths. And so in reality, it is very important that the recommendations of the CDC take into account the whole country and what the whole country sees, and then of course local municipalities and states will make decisions for their areas in the form of masks.

DAN CORCORAN: Now Connecticut is a very vaccinated state, most people who are eligible to get the vaccine have got it, but we still had a hard time with the Omicron variant. Is this how it will be in the foreseeable future? New varieties and new waves of infection?

ADM. RACHEL LEVINE: We certainly expect Omicron to continue to decline. We expect the number of cases to decrease, the number of hospitalizations and then the number of deaths, but what we do not know is whether we will see another variant, but we will work to be prepared if and when that variant coming .

DAN CORCORAN: As you know, this pandemic has really shed some light on how much inequality there is still in a place like Connecticut from vaccine access to health care to food insecurity. A new report from Data Haven – a local data analytics organization – found that 20% of Black Connecticut residents and 22% of Latino adults faced food insecurity in the past year, compared with just 8% of white residents. So talk a little bit about the inequalities you have noticed and what is being done to address them.

ADM. RACHEL LEVINE: Of course. Well, thanks for raising the point you are completely right. COVID-19 has shown us the breadth and depth of health inequalities throughout our nation. And I was honored to be a member of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which made its recommendations to the President in November. And we will work to implement these recommendations in the future.

DAN CORCORAN: Now, one of the other side effects of this pandemic has been what happens to opioids in this state, and across the country, really. 2020 was a record year for overdose deaths here in Connecticut. And the last year has been bad, too. So how can the federal government work with states like ours to help stem this crisis?

ADM. RACHEL LEVINE: We have a new four-point overdose prevention strategy that includes prevention that includes harm reduction, which includes Naloxone, fentanyl, test strips, and spray service programs. We want to expand access to treatment, especially for medicines for opioid use disorders, and then get people better. So we are going to work with state and local health departments and other state and local agencies to achieve that.

DAN CORCORANAdmiral Rachel Levine, thank you very much for your service and for talking to us tonight.

ADM. RACHEL LEVINE: Thank you. I was very happy to be here.

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