April 11, 2021

A View from My Porch: A Primer on Vaccines, Part 2.5: Where Are We With Vaccines? CT’s Distribution Plan, Immunity Questions & More

Editor’s Note: This is a previously unplanned third of three parts of a highly topical essay titled, “A Primer on Vaccines,” by Thomas D. Gotowka. Part 2.5 reviews Connecticut’s readiness to distribute the vaccine, identifies some of the side effects that may be experienced, and considers the acquisition of individual immunity. Read the previous parts of the essay at these links:
A View from My Porch: A Primer on Vaccines: Part 1; “Still Running to Daylight”

A View from My Porch — A Primer on Vaccines: Part 2; “Approaching Daylight”

When Part 2 of this series was published in mid-December, only the Pfizer vaccine had received emergency use authorization (EUA); the FDA then granted Moderna’s EUA on Dec. 18. As a result, we are now in the earliest stages of a massive vaccination campaign that will span the United States; and millions of Americans will reach the vaccination on-deck circle in 2021. 

The COVID “playbook” is still evolving; and guidance will change as the scientific and medical communities discover more about this virus and its reaction to the vaccines. That’s a good thing. 

The COVID Data Remain Troubling:

The first autopsy-confirmed COVID-related death in the United States occurred on Feb. 6, 2020 in Santa Clara County, Calif. Just 10 months later, i.e., by year’s end, over 345,000 Americans had been killed by the virus; and, incredibly, we surpassed 20 million cases, with an increase of more than a million cases in the last week of the year.

Unfortunately, this trend will continue through this dark winter; and, by this morning, Jan. 7, we’ve reached nearly 364,000 American fatalities. Finally, COVID hospitalizations are increasing in Connecticut, and may be evidence of another post-holiday spike.

New Vaccines:

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.

Last week, Great Britain became the first country to authorize the use of Astra Zeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, a promising vaccine candidate from Johnson & Johnson is proceeding through clinical trials. However, for the foreseeable future, Americans will receive the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses, three or four weeks apart, respectively.

Poorly Executed Federal Vaccine Rollout:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that Operation Warp Speed’s promise to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December fell remarkably short of goal; and only about 2.8 million people were provided the vaccine — primarily front-line health care workers, and nursing home residents.

Earlier in December, General Gustave Perna, COO of Operation Warp Speed, apologized for a “planning error” that caused dozens of states to receive substantially fewer vaccine doses than were originally promised.

Predictably, the outgoing Administration then announced that, like testing, vaccine distribution will now be the responsibility of the individual states. Transition to the states occurred rapidly, and with only limited assistance and oversight.  There is no plan for logistical support.

They essentially told the states that “this is now your responsibility, figure it out.” Many states will have significant difficulty in meeting this challenge. However, the Coronovirus Relief Bill, which was reluctantly signed into law by the outgoing president at the end of December, includes some financial assistance for the states’ vaccination rollout.  

Vaccine Distribution in CT:

Connecticut began preparing for vaccine distribution well before the candidate vaccines were on the threshold of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization. 

Governor Lamont had appointed a broad-based Vaccine Advisory Group, who worked with the state’s Department of Health (CT DPH), the local health departments, CDC, and a group of providers and healthcare institutions to develop a phase-based program, which the Governor presented last October. The Governor also stated, at that time, that the state’s goal was to have everyone in the state “who wants a dose” to be vaccinated by early fall of 2021.

You can review the details of CT’s vaccination plan at Phases (ct.gov)

At present, Connecticut is vaccinating people who meet Phase 1a eligibility, which includes front-line healthcare workers, and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. CVS Pharmacy teams began to administer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Connecticut skilled nursing facilities on Dec. 21. 

By the end of that month, they had administered more than 50,000 vaccine doses. The role of CVS in Connecticut’s vaccination program is reviewed in: A View from My Porch — A Primer on Vaccines: Part 2; “Approaching Daylight” (LymeLine.com)

By the end of December 2021, more than 50,000 vaccine doses of Coronavirus vaccine had been administered. Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash.

Phase 1b:

The Governor has confirmed that Connecticut remains on track to complete Phase 1a by the end of January; and the CDC recently reported that Connecticut is ahead of most states in vaccine distribution. Phase 1b is expected to begin immediately after completing Phase 1a objectives, and will probably extend into June. 

The Governor’s Vaccine Advisory Group has just recommended that Phase 1b target frontline essential workers, residents of congregate settings and those aged 75 and older. This will include teachers, grocery store workers, police officers, food service workers and sanitation workers. 

Congregate settings include homeless shelters, prisons, psychiatric facilities and group homes. The Advisory Group has not yet decided whether this next phase will also include residents, who are under the age of 75, but have underlying health conditions that place them at high-risk of serious illness from COVID-19. It appears that heathy people, ages 65 to 74 years old, may, otherwise, be deferred to Phase 1c.

Side Effects:

The most common side effects for both vaccines include pain and swelling in the arm where you received the injection; fever, chills, fatigue, and headaches, and muscle and joint pain. There was some early concern regarding a few claims of “Bell’s Palsy” following receipt of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in the clinical trials. (“Bells” is a condition that causes temporary and mild weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles).

This was not considered significant, however, because the incidence rate of the condition in the clinical trial was very comparable to the incidence of Bell’s Palsy in the general population.

Note that the CDC and FDA are monitoring adverse reactions, using a national data collection system. Healthcare professionals are required to report certain adverse events; and vaccine manufacturers are required to report all adverse events that come to their attention. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) (hhs.gov)

Even you have received the first shot of vaccine, keep wearing your mask until one to two weeks after your second dose.  Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash.

Immunity ETA:

As noted above, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines both require two doses, three or four weeks apart, respectively. Based on the current literature, you will have some protection about 12 days after the first dose. 

However, you will not receive the strongest immunity until after the second dose — at least seven days after the second for the Pfizer vaccine; but at least 14 days after the second for the Moderna vaccine. Therefore, it is important that you continue wearing a face mask, practice social distancing until one to two weeks after your second dose.

Questions (Always) Remain:

There is still a need for continuing study. We do not yet know how long vaccines will confer immunity. Although the vaccine may be more than 90 percent effective in blocking the symptoms of COVID-19 at the individual level; it is still unclear whether it will reduce transmission and stop the symptomless spread that accounts for a large portion of cases

Some Final Thoughts:

Vaccinations for the general public are not expected to begin until late-summer but, by then, vaccines will be available in a wide range of healthcare sites: physician’s offices, hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, and other locations that would normally administer influenza vaccines. Note that Connecticut is not mandating vaccination.  So, it’s an extremely important public health program that requires we “rely on the kindness of strangers.”

As I write this, I am distracted by the televised play-by-play of a violent attack on the Capitol by a group of domestic terrorists, which was apparently instigated and applauded by the outgoing Executive Branch. 

All that said, I believe that Connecticut is well-prepared to carry out this massive vaccination program. Other states are woefully unprepared. For example, Florida has what appears to be a poorly organized, “first come, first served” program.

We must make certain, however — and especially as other states reach readiness — that the vaccine supply line is continually sufficient to meet immediate requirements. 

I’ll close by paraphrasing Queen Elizabeth II: 2020 was without question an “annus horribilis.” Let’s not allow its ‘horrible-ness‘ to spill over any further into 2021.

This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

Dec. 21 COVID-19 Update: Old Lyme’s Cumulative Confirmed Cases Climb to 131; Lyme Holds at 38

Map of Connecticut dated Dec. 21, showing both Lyme and Old Lyme now in the CT DPH-identified ‘Red Zone.’ This is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is over 15.

LYME/OLD LYME — In light of the serious rise in Coronavirus cases, we have started a new daily update reporting confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in Lyme and Old Lyme.

The state is now issuing a COVID-19 metric report daily around 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, which includes current data up to the previous evening. The Monday reports include data for the weekend as well as the previous Friday.

The Daily Data Report for Connecticut issued Monday, Dec. 21, by the Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH) for data as at 8:30 p.m., Dec 20, shows the following:

Both Lyme and Old Lyme are in the state-identified ‘Red Zone;’ Old Lyme was ‘red’ for the past two weeks but Lyme had moved into the gray (lowest) zone. As of today’s report, only two towns in the state — Canaan and Warren — remain in the ‘Gray Zone.’ Barkhamsted is the single town in the state in the ‘Orange Zone.’

  • The red category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town exceeds 15.
  • The orange category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is between 10-14.
  • The gray category is defined as when the Average Daily Rate of COVID-19 Cases Among Persons Living in Community Settings per 100,000 Population By Town is less than five or less than five reported cases.

In all three cases, this rate does not include cases or tests among residents of nursing home, assisted living, or correctional facilities.

Old Lyme

Old Lyme now has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 129 confirmed COVID-19 cases and two probable cases, making a total of 131 cases.

This represents an increase of THREE over the 126 confirmed cases reported Friday, Dec. 19, and no change in the number (two) of probable cases reported the same day. 

The total number of Old Lyme residents tested is 3,604.

There have been two fatalities in Old Lyme.

CT DPH Two-Weekly Report

The Dec. 18 report issued by CT DPH shows that during the two-week reporting period from 11/29 through 12/12, Old Lyme had 17 cases in Week 1 and 17 in Week 2. This data was updated Dec. 17.

The case rate in Old Lyme for 100,000 population is 33, reflecting a significant increase from the previously reported two-week-rate of 18.4. A case rate of 15 or more cases per 100,000 population places a town in the state’s ‘Red Zone.’

Lyme

Lyme has a cumulative total (since the outbreak began) of 35 confirmed cases and three probable cases, making a total of 38 cases.

This represents no increase in the number of either confirmed or probable cases reported Friday, Dec. 18.

There have been no fatalities in Lyme.

The total number of Lyme residents tested is 862.

CT DPH Two-Weekly Report

The Dec. 18 report issued by CT DPH shows that during the two-week reporting period from11/29 through 12/12, Lyme had six cases in Week 1 and five in Week 2. This data was updated Dec. 12.

The case rate in Lyme for 100,000 population is 33.6 reflecting a significant increase from the previously reported two-week-rate of 12.2. A case rate of 15 or more cases per 100,000 population places a town in the state’s ‘Red Zone.’

***

The next CT DPH Daily Data Report for Connecticut will be issued Tuesday, Dec. 22.

State Rep. Devin Carney to Ring Bell for Salvation Army Today

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd)

OLD SAYBROOK – On Saturday, Dec. 19, at 3 p.m., State Representative Devin Carney (R-23) will be at the Old Saybrook Walmart, 665 Boston Post Rd. helping to raise money for local families this holiday season by ringing bells as part of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign.

All kettle donations stay in the communities where the funds are collected and the money helps to provide meals, shelter, toys, clothing and many other services throughout the year.

Rep. Carney welcomes readers to stop by and help make the fundraising event a success.

If you are unable to be there in person, but would still like to make a contribution, visit Rep. Carney’s online donation page at https://give.salvationarmy.org/give/t333520/#!/donation/checkout or text ‘CTREP’ to 71777.

Rep. Devin Carney Named Ranking Member of Legislature’s Transportation Committee

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) File photo.

HARTFORD – State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), who was reelected in November to the position he has held since 2015, has received his committee assignments for the 2021 legislative session.

These include being named as the Ranking Member of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee by House Republican Leader-elect Vincent Candelora.

“Whether it’s highway congestion in Fairfield County or a failing bridge in the state’s Quiet Corner, transportation-related issues have and will continue to be a major point of conversation at the capitol,” Candelora said. “Devin understands both the importance of improving our transportation grid and the budgetary challenges that stand in the way.”

Candelora continued, “His ability to see all sides of an issue and understand a proposal’s impact on the people we’re elected to serve make him a perfect fit for this role, and I look forward to working with him as he helps lead discussion on this committee whose work affects so many aspects of life in Connecticut.”

Having been a member of the committee for the past six years, the familiarity of responsibilities that come with this appointment is one Rep. Carney knows well, having served in the same capacity from 2017 to 2018 under former Minority Leader Themis Klarides.

“It’s an honor to have been chosen to serve as the Ranking Member of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee,” Rep. Carney said, continuing, “Serving in this capacity will not only allow me to be a strong voice for our region, but also address issues ranging from the safety of I-95 to wait times at the DMV. I look forward to working with the committee members on these types of issues again next year.”

The Transportation Committee has oversight on all matters relating to the Department of Transportation, including highways and bridges, navigation, aeronautics, mass transit and railroads; and to the State Traffic Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

He will also return as a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee and the Ranking Member of the Transportation Bonding Subcommittee and will begin his first term on the Education Committee. Rep. Carney was also named an Assistant House Republican Leader and chosen, again, to serve on the House Republican Screening Committee.

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee focuses on issues relating to finance, revenue, capital bonding, fees and taxation. The committee also oversees employer contributions for unemployment compensation and all matters relating to the Department of Revenue Services and the revenue aspects of the Division of Special Revenue.

The Education Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to the Department of Education; local and regional boards of education and the substantive law of collective bargaining covering teachers and professional employees of such boards; vocational rehabilitation; the Commission on the Arts; and libraries, museums and historical and cultural associations.

The House Republican Screening Committee is a select committee that reviews all bill proposals before they reach the floor of the House for a final vote.

Editor’s Notes: i) The 23rd House District includes Lyme, Old Lyme Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.
ii) This article is based on a press release issued by the House Republican Office of the Connecticut General Assembly.

Sen. Paul Formica Named Senate Republican Deputy Leader, Kevin Kelly Named Leader

State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th)

HARTFORD – State Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21st) has been named the next Senate Republican Leader by the Connecticut Senate Republican Caucus. Sen. Kelly has named State Senator Paul Formica (R-20th) to serve as his deputy, taking the title of Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore.

Sen. Kelly was chosen by his fellow caucus members to serve as the next caucus leader following the retirement of Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) who has served as leader since 2014.

Kelly said of Senator Formica that he, “…  is one of the hardest working and most caring lawmakers I have ever met.”

He added, “Paul is a consensus builder and a budget expert, who was instrumental in crafting the historic bipartisan budget of 2017 that implemented smart financial policies Republicans have long advocated for including a spending cap, bonding caps and a volatility cap.”

Kelly continued, “Those successes are the reason why our state has a record-breaking rainy day fund today and has enable our state to start contributing more to paying down on our state’s unfunded pension liabilities. Paul Formica’s expertise on the budget, experience as a small business owner and job creator, as well as his ability to bring people together will make him an exceptional partner in leading our caucus during these difficult times.”

“I am deeply honored to have been selected to help lead our caucus as deputy leader,” said Sen. Formica. “Connecticut is the greatest state in the greatest nation in the world. But there is so more that must be done to help all people in our state achieve the American Dream. I look forward to helping lead our caucus and our state through these challenging times, with a focus on keeping people safe, healthy and creating opportunities for all people.”

Senator Formica represents the residents of the 20th Senatorial District, which includes Old Lyme, as well as Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, , a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford. He was first elected in 2015 and prior to that served as the First Selectman of East Lyme from 2007-2015.

He has also been the owner and operator of Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant for over 35 years.

Senator Formica currently serves as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee and the Energy and Technology Committee. He is a founder of the bipartisan Tourism Caucus and co-chairs the Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Legislative Caucus. A resident of East Lyme, he is the father of four adult children — three daughters and one son.

Sen. Kelly said, “I am incredibly honored to be named the next leader of the Senate Republican Caucus,” said  “Our caucus is made up of hard-working individuals who love our state and are ready to fight for it.”

He continued, “We must lead our state through the unprecedented challenges of pandemic recovery by simultaneously focusing on job growth and protecting those most vulnerable to COVID-19: our elderly population and minority communities.”

Sen. Kelly is currently the Ranking Member of the Aging Committee, the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, and the Committee on Children. He also serves as a member of the Regulation Review Committee.

Kelly has been an advocate for health care affordability and accessibility, supporting the needs of senior citizens, growing jobs, improving women’s health care, and advancing “Aging in Place” initiatives.

Sen. Kelly has served in the State Senate since 2011 representing Monroe, Seymour, Shelton and Stratford. He resides in Stratford with his wife Cindy. Their family includes four children and soon to be seven grandchildren.

For more information on State Senator Paul Formica visit www.senatorformica.com. Follow Sen. Formica at www.Facebook.com/SenatorFormica, on Twitter and Instagram @SenatorFormica.

For more information on State Senator Kevin Kelly visit www.senatorkevinkelly.com. Follow Sen. Kelly at www.Facebook.com/SenatorKevinKelly, on Twitter @21KevinKelly or Instagram @SenatorKevinCKelly.

 

‘The Day’ Announces Carney Has Won Re-election Bid, Returns to House for Fourth Term

State Rep. Devin Carney

Karen Florin of The Day tweeted a short time ago, “Republican Devin Carney wins a fourth term in the state house 23rd. He awaited results with friends and family at the Westbrook beach home of his late, famed grandfather Art Carney.”

Florin has now written the following article in The Day:

Voters in the 23rd state House District appeared Tuesday to have sent Rep. Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, back to Hartford for a fourth term.  

As of deadline, Carney had beat Democratic challenger Dave Rubino in three of the district’s four towns, Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Old Lyme, and lost to him in Lyme. The unofficial vote tally, which didn’t include 750 absentee ballots from Westbrook, was 8,521 to 6,740.

Read the full article by Karen Florin published 9:54 p.m. on TheDay.com at this link.

Groups Fighting for Social Justice Co-Host ‘Teach-In’ in Old Lyme, Wednesday

  • LYME/OLD LYME — – The Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership for Social Justice has announced that it will hold a “teach-in” the day after the election – in conjunction with the Old Saybrook March for Justice.

The teach-in is titled The Work That Lies Ahead: Desegregating Hearts, Minds and Spaces in the Aftermath, and will be held Wednesday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m., outside Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall.

The timing of the event reflects the reality that, whatever the outcome of the election, the Partnership’s work along the Connecticut shoreline will remain the same – fighting for social justice in Lyme and Old Lyme.

The teach-in will feature two speakers:
• Kevin Booker from the New London City Council – an educator, social justice advocate and
council member for the City of New London.
• Erica Watson – an educator and wellness advocate.

All are welcome. It is requested that everyone should wear a mask at the event.

Upcoming events sponsored by the partnership or the Old Saybrook March for Justice will take place as follows:
• Wednesday, Nov. 11 – Essex, in front of Town Hall
• Wednesday, Nov. 18 – Deep River, in front of the Congregational Church
• Wednesday, Nov. 25 – Old Saybrook, in front of the Kate
• Wednesday, Dec. 2 – TBD

The Lyme-Old Lyme Partnership’s mission is to educate area residents on important topics of social justice and call attention to opportunities where citizens can support local, state and national social-justice efforts. For more information or to stay abreast of news, visit the partnership’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LOLPartnership4SJ or send an email to LOLPartnership4SJ@gmail.com.

The Old Saybrook March for Justice is an inclusive and welcoming coalition of friends and neighbors, who care deeply about basic human rights.

Their mission statement states, ” We are outraged by centuries of structural racism in this country. We stand with Black Lives Matter. We listen, learn and act. We understand that silence is not an option. We aim to be allies and antiracist. We are respectful, nonpartisan and inclusive. We welcome all who share our values. We educate ourselves and join in weekly marches.”

For further information, email osbmarch@gmail.com.

Letter to the Editor: You Know What’s Scary? Democrats for Who Vote for Carney

To the Editor:

This letter is in response to this Oct 29 letter written by Karen Palenski.

Did you watch Hamilton on Disney+ this summer over Fourth of July weekend as I did, fireworks streaking across the sky in the background? What did you think about? I thought about how horrified our founding fathers would be to see the division that has overtaken our nation…and our neighborhoods right here in District 23.

I realize that what I am about to say plays into the division I am decrying, but you know what? There is too much as stake. I am urging democrats who are satisfied with Carney’s performance to divorce themselves from their alliance to him. “Moderate” Republicans seem to trade on issues like the environment and the opioid crisis but it’s not where their passion lies. It can’t be in the era of Trump. For a democratic candidate like Dave Rubino, these issues—and proactive measures to prioritize them—are the rule not the exception. Here’s what else you get with Rubino at the wheel:

Sophisticated, relevant experience: Rubino is a highly accomplished human rights attorney who has practiced his profession on a global level. He possesses the ability (read: smarts) to spot opportunities, whether it’s crafting a new law, or adjusting existing ones as necessary so that the rights of everyone in our community are served and protected.

An agenda that protects our seniors: A Medicare Asset Test could have irrevocable effects on the finances of senior citizens who don’t own yachts. Rubnio knows this and will fight against it. I like the specificity of this stance and am pretty sure Carney doesn’t have an opinion either way. Or if he did it would be dangerously milquetoast. Our seniors deserve better.

Belief in science and the gravity of climate change: Dave has been endorsed by both The Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement. He will also aid in crafting legislation mandating climate change education in public schools (it is right now only “encouraged” but is not part of the required curriculum).

Police accountability: A bill was passed this summer. Rubino is patently in favor of it. Carney voted against it. For the seats in the back, especially in Saybrook, Carney voted against the police accountability.

On Nov. 3, do not throw away your shot. Vote for Rubino.

 Sincerely,

Amy Elliott,
Old Saybrook.

Two Last Letters, One Supporting Carney, the Other Supporting Rubino

LYME/OLD LYME — We said yesterday that we were not going to publish any further Letters to the Editor but we have received two today. In the interests of fairness, we have decided to publish them both since they support respectively the competing candidates for the 23rd House District. The letter supporting State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) is at this link and the letter supporting his challenger, David Rubino (D) is at this link.

Letter to the Editor: Rubino Has Been Fighting for Women’s Rights for Years; If Elected, He Will Continue the Fight in Hartford

To the Editor:

As a woman voter, I am concerned about the threat to women’s rights. It seems ironic, that we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, a women’s right to vote, and at the same time are at risk of losing ground in so many other ways. Despite the success of the early suffragists, and gains made in recent decades, women are now facing the deleterious impact of a possible shift in national policy. There is a clear threat to reproductive rights, achieved with the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade in 1973. Additionally, legislation in many states has strategically eroded those rights.

Women need legislators who will provide strong state leadership and fight for their rights. I believe Dave Rubino is that leader. As a human right’s lawyer, he has worked diligently to protect women’s rights. He advocates for women’s equality, but also understands that progressive legislation must support that goal. He will work to ensure a living wage, pay equity, affordable housing, and childcare which is so essential to the quality of life for women. He will also support legislation that protects women from sexual harassment in the workplace, job discrimination, and domestic violence. He will make certain that Connecticut has legislation that serves as a firewall to national policy that threatens women’s rights.

Women need to know which candidates they can trust. Before they cast their vote, they need to know who will vote to protect their rights.

I have done my homework. I know that Dave Rubino will be there for me.

Sincerely,

Lorianne Panzara,
Old Lyme.

Letter to the Editor: Rubino Has a World View That Can be Applied Locally, Beneficially

To the Editor:

These days the world is more connected than ever before.  One thing we’ve learned from COVID-19 is that something going on anywhere in the world can have a quick and substantial impact here in our hometown.  We need leadership who understands this connectivity on all levels and can help us manage our relationship with the world while also maintaining the unique nature of our small towns.

Dave Rubino and his family have lived around the globe and witnessed all forms of government. They chose to end up here in the 23rd District, near where Dave’s wife grew up, to start a law practice, raise their family, and now, participate in state governance.  Dave knows how to do this and he understands us, in ways that Devin Carney does not. He will be getting my vote on November 3rd.

Mara Lowry,
Old Lyme.

Letter to the Editor: Carney, Rubino Display Distinct Differences in Response to President; Rubino Rebukes Trump, Carney Does Not

To the Editor:

In 2016, Devin Carney said of Donald Trump, “Up to this point I have not expressed support for him and have not endorsed him. I’m not supporting him. I’m not supporting Mrs. Clinton either.”  Of course, the polls favored Hillary Clinton at the time so the politically opportune thing for a Republican to do was to ride the fence. Don’t endorse, but don’t rebuke. Since that time, Donald Trump has been caught on video making vulgar comments about women, ignored a global pandemic so profoundly that the U.S. has seen more than 220,000 deaths, overseen the biggest recession since the depression, and sowed racial divisions like no other President in recent history. Even Fox News confirmed that he called our fallen veterans “losers” and “suckers.”  One would think that Carney has ample reason to pick a side now. But he hasn’t. Because disavowing the President will lose him votes. We need a leader who has the courage to take a position on the important issues of the day – even if it will cost him politically.  

Dave Rubino has rebuked President Trump from the get-go. When Trump pushed the myth that absentee ballots would lead to fraud, Dave pushed back with the facts. Voters in our district should not have to choose between their health and their Constitutional rights. When Trump said that states like Connecticut had to send their students back to school or lose Federal funding, Dave spoke out. Most significantly, when in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the political tides favored support of Black Lives Matter, Carney spoke with vigor at BLM rallies. But when Trump and his enablers came out against police accountability, Devin fell in line and voted against the police accountability act.

We deserve better than that. We deserve a leader who will stand for what’s right regardless of the political consequences. We deserve Dave Rubino.

Sincerely,

Kim Thompson,
Old Lyme.

March for Justice Meets This Evening in Old Saybrook; Pullitzer Prize-Winning Author David Blight to Speak on Frederick Douglass

Professor David Blight. Photo credit: DavidWBlight.com

OLD SAYBROOK/LYME/OLD LYME  — The Old Saybrook March for Justice has announced that Professor David W. Blight of Yale University will speak at its Wednesday, Oct. 7 event, in front of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Art Center in Old Saybrook.  His topic will be, “Frederick Douglass in His Times and Ours.”  

Dr. Blight is the author of the recent book, Frederick Douglass: A Prophet of Freedom, for which he was awarded a a Pulitzer Prize. He is a teacher, scholar and public historian.

At Yale University, he is Sterling Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition

Dr. Blight’s latest book has garnered nine book awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. 

In receiving the Pulitzer Prize, Dr. Blight received these words of praise:  “A breathtaking history that demonstrates the scope of Frederick Douglass’ influence through deep research on his writings, his intellectual evolution and his relationships.”

“We are so grateful that Dr. Blight has accepted our invitation to speak. Frederick Douglas is one of the great prophetic voices in our country’s history, comments Rev. David W. Good, Minister Emeritus of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme and one of the organizers of the Old Saybrook March.

He continues, “Our communities would benefit greatly from remembering the story of one who not only escaped from slavery but tirelessly worked for the liberation of others and should be remembered and celebrated along with such other voices of conscience as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth and all those who helped to give birth to such Civil Rights leaders as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis.”

Goood adds, “Now, as our country struggles to overcome segregation and systemic racism in all its ugly manifestations.  Dr. Blight’s Pulitzer  prize winning book,  “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” is an extraordinary gift and can help us to be emancipated from the shackles of racism and so help us to become the country we endeavor to be.” 

The Old Saybrook March for Justice is comprised of residents living in Old Saybrook, Essex, Old Lyme, Lyme, Deep River and other communities committed to standing up for human rights and justice.

The group is committed to educating itself and the community to be antiracist by creating greater equity through education about history, increasing affordable housing and changing zoning restrictions to be more inclusive and creating greater access to health care.

The site of the march rotates weekly between Old Saybrook, Essex, Lyme/Old Lyme and Deep River.  If interested in joining the March or obtaining more information, contact Osbmarch@gmail.com.

Letter to the Editor: Rubino Will Not Be Restricted by Party Lines in His Quest For Solutions That Benefit Local Community

To the Editor:

I am writing to encourage your readers to support and vote for Dave Rubino, the democratic candidate for the 23rd House District to represent Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. I have had the opportunity to meet Dave, and talk with him about the issues that drive him as a person and a professional. Dave is a lawyer, with both business and human rights experience. His work on international voting rights demonstrated a shift in him professionally, putting his money where his mouth is, and fighting for what he valued.

While the national election for President captures the most attention, it is our local representatives that have the biggest impact on our lives on a day-to-day basis. David’s international legal work was bi-partisan in nature, working under both republican and democratic presidents. We need that willingness to work towards solutions – regardless of party – that bring progress to our community.

Dave has stepped up in recent years to volunteer and work in his community as a member of the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission. As our state and community work our way towards recovery and navigating the COVID crisis, we will need leaders willing to listen and represent the interests of our small businesses and navigating what is best for our community from a public health standpoint. As a member of the Old Saybrook Board of Selectman and chair of the
Economic Development Commission, I am confident in David’s ability to provide that for our community.

Sincerely,

Matt Pugliese,
Old Saybrook.

Editor’s Note: The writer is an Old Saybrook Selectman and Chair of Old Saybrook Economic Development Commission.

Musical Masterworks, Community Music School Announce Scholarship Recipient

Elizabeth Steindl (photo submitted)

OLD LYME/OLD SAYBROOK/ESSEX — Musical Masterworks of Old Lyme and Community Music School of Essex have announced the recipient of the fourth annual Musical Masterworks Scholarship in Honor of Nancy D. Thomas.

Elizabeth Steindl, the 2020 recipient of the Musical Masterworks Scholarship in Honor of Nancy D. Thomas, is 11-years-old and in sixth grade at Old Saybrook Middle School.

She studies violin with Martha Herrle at Community Music School, and also plays clarinet in her school band, sings in her school chorus, and is a regular participant in area music camps.  She loves animals, music, and nature.

The Musical Masterworks Scholarship in Honor of Nancy D. Thomas provides the tuition for a middle school student to take 30-minute music lessons for one full year at Community Music School.  The scholarship is awarded annually. 

To be eligible, the candidate must be a student of classical voice or instrumental music and reside in Middlesex County or New London County. 

Community Music School (CMS) offers innovative music programming for infants through adults, building on a 37-year tradition of providing quality music instruction to residents of shoreline communities. CMS programs cultivate musical ability and creativity while providing students with a thorough understanding of music, so they can enjoy playing and listening for their entire lives. 

Learn more at www.cmsct.org or call 860.767.0026.

Musical Masterworks brings to Southern New England world-class chamber music performances and outreach programs which attract, entertain, and educate a diverse audience. Launching its 30th season soon, Musical Masterworks offers five weekends of performances from October through May in Old Lyme. 

Learn more at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252.

 

Op-Ed: A Gardener, “The Gardener’s Tale,” and Structural Racism in Our Towns

Editor’s Note: The author of this op-ed, Joseph CL Merola,  MD, MPH, is an active member of the Old Saybrook March for Justice.  He lives in Old Saybrook and is a semiretired Obstetrician and Gynecologist, having most recently practiced, taught and served as Chairman of the Department at the St. Luke’s University Health Network in Eastern PA and Western NJ. Dr. Merola also has been a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Clinical Professor at the Temple University School of Medicine. He has an abiding interest in the public’s health, particularly for women and children, and for distributive justice in health care.           

Photo by Vince Fleming on Unsplash.

At this time of year, I’m in my glory as an avid gardener in Coastal Connecticut.

So grateful to my Italian father and grandfather for sharing and showing, by example, a gardener’s passion  (and frankly requiring  me to participate by helping to sow, nurture, weed and pick!) Arising from that hands-on education comes a now more natural understanding of the elements of the growing environment for seeds and plants … temperature, soil quality, water, sun and organic principles. 

So here we are again, in early September, with an abundant harvest of herbs, greens, root vegetables, peppers and array of tomato varieties, sizes and colors. And we can still look ahead to corn, squashes and pumpkins for the fall.  How wonderful! But, giving credit where credit is due, these “fruits of one’s labor”, and their quality, begin and depend on the all-important environment.

So, let’s consider for a moment “The Gardener’s Tale,” an allegory, first appearing within an article in the American Journal of Public Health in 2000, authored by Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, PhD, MPH, the former President of the American Public Health Association and a Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. (An Abstract, and access to the full text is available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1446334/ for further reference.) 

She develops a context for understanding racism on three levels. First is Personally Mediated Racism, i.e. intentional or unintentional prejudice and discrimination, including acts of omission and/or commission, structural boundaries, and societal condonation.

The second is Internalized Racism, wherein the members of the race in question accept notions of their own lesser intrinsic worth and ability.

The last is the so evident Institutionalized Racism, shown by sub-optimal material conditions (access to quality housing, education, employment, a clean environment and particularly health care). Also included in this category is similarly differential access to power, resources, information, and a “voice.”

As a demonstration, Jones presents the referenced allegory of a Gardener with two flower boxes, one with fresh, rich soil (and beautiful red flowers) and the other, unknowingly at first, with old, poor quality soil (and similarly poor quality pink flowers.) 

Personally Mediated Racism is reflected in the Gardener’s discard of the scraggly pink blossoms before going to seed, or removing pink scattered seeds that might be blowing into the more fertile soil. 

Internalized Racism here relates to the pink flowers telling the bees not to pollinate them with pink pollen, as they prefer red pollen, and thus red flowers.

The allegorical equivalent of Institutionalize Racism is most poignant … with the two flower boxes historically keeping the soils, seeds and flowers separate by color, the oversight of the gardener in not addressing the soil differences in the first place, and the belief that red flowers were intrinsically better!

This summer a light has dramatically been shone on our own “gardens”, in our own shoreline towns. The marches for social justice, arising from the Black Lives Matter movement, have grown in size and number. Privileged people, not directly impacted by racism, have materialized and raised their voices against racism. This has been a powerful maker! 

Towns across Connecticut, including New London, have adopted resolutions claiming that “racism is a public health crisis,” and used the opportunity for town hall conversations to bring about change. Why is all quiet in the Old Saybrook, Essex and Old Lyme Town Halls, despite their own residents’ protests and affirmation?    

Clearly, “the Gardener” here is our local government. They have the power to consider, act, and openly declare racism as a reality, a grave concern, and a public health crisis. They have the power to allocate more resources to mitigate this dilemma. Among other outcomes, these could take the shape of education, public culture, affordable housing and accessible healthcare. 

But, why are they so quiet? 

We need open recognition, and declaration: our various garden environments for growth must be optimized, and not different. Our racial soil quality, particularly new and fertile soil, is needed to permit pink flowers to flourish, as well as red. Then, flowers of all colors can be recognized equally, and have the same opportunity for contributing to a brighter and more meaningful life.  

Death Announced of Kristen Jude (Gerthoffer) Woodmansee, 54, President of Old Lyme-based OHS Sleep Center Partners Since 2007

OLD SAYBROOK/OLD LYME — Kristen Jude (Gerthoffer) Woodmansee, 54, of Old Saybrook, passed away on August 16th after a 3 year battle with cancer. Kristen was born September 11, 1965 in Syracuse, NY, the youngest child of Bernard and Suzanne Gerthoffer. Kristen graduated from Bishop Grimes High School in Syracuse in 1983 …

Kristen worked as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Old Lyme-based OHS Companies, including serving as President of OHS Sleep Center Partners LLC since 2007 …

Following her cancer diagnosis, her friend and employer Jack Spratt endowed a scholarship in Kristen’s honor in association with the oldest sailing educational program in the country (through the Mystic Seaport and aboard the schooner Brilliant). Fittingly, it was named “KRIS” for Kristen’s traits of Kindness, Respect, Integrity and Sincerity …

Visit this link to read the full obituary published Aug. 20 on Courant.com.

 

‘Black Lives Matter’ Peaceful Protest, March to be Held This Afternoon in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — A peaceful protest and march for Black Lives Matter is will be held Sunday, June 7, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Town Green at 302 Main Street, Old Saybrook.

Those intending to participate in the event are asked to wear a mask as the community continues to be vigilant about protecting citizens from the spread of COVID-19.

A press release from Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr. and published on the Town of Old Saybrook website states: “This much is clear: Discrimination of any sort, racism in any fashion and/or police brutality have no place in the Old Saybrook Community, or anywhere else. I, for one, will always do my best to promote a culture of equality and justice for all in our town.”

Peaceful Protest Held in Old Saybrook Showed Solidarity Against Police Brutality on African-Americans

Gathered in front the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, several hundred people listened to several speakers.  All photos by Alex Kratzert.

OLD SAYBROOK — Several hundred people of all ages from the local area, including Lyme and Old Lyme, turned out yesterday evening in Old Saybrook to hold a vigil.

State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd) addresses the crowd from the steps of ‘the Kate.’

According to a press release from the Town of Old Saybrook, the focus of the vigil was, “To standing for justice and show solidarity with citizens from all over the country as they protest police brutality on our fellow African-American citizens.”

One man’s powerful message.

Speakers at the event included State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd), Paul Formica (R-20th), State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd), Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl P. Fortuna, Jr., Maryam Elahi, President of the Community Foundation of Southeast Connecticut, and the Rev. Dr. Steve Jungkeit of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Reverend Dr. Steve Jungkeit (top right, wearing hat)) of the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme speaks to participants at the event.

The group marched up and down Main Street and also gathered for remarks outside the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Center for the Arts, known as “the Kate.”

Marching for a cause.

Almost all participants wore masks and social distancing was encouraged.

Signs were held high as the protesters crossed Main Street in Old Saybrook.

A second event is planned this coming Sunday, June 7, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Town Green at 302 Main Street when a peaceful protest and march for Black Lives Matter is planned.

The words on the placards spelled out the intent of the event.

State Rep. Devin Carney Endorsed for Another Term in 23rd District

State Rep. Devin Carney has been endorsed by local Republicans for another term in the 23rd District, which includes both Lyme and Old Lyme.

LYME/OLD LYME — (press release from Devin Carney) On Tuesday, May 19, Republican delegates from Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook unanimously endorsed State Representative Devin Carney for a fourth term as representative for the 23rd District.

The delegates held a convention by web conference to endorse Carney, making his campaign for another two-year term as State Representative official. Delegates gave remarks on State Representative Carney’s dedicated and effective record of public service as well as being a knowledgeable and accessible legislator for the four communities.

“Representing the 23rd District – the place where my family lives, where I was raised, where I went to school, where I work and volunteer – has truly been the honor of a lifetime,” said Carney.  “I am proud to be your voice in Hartford to advocate for fiscal responsibility, small business growth, our wonderful public schools, and our precious shoreline coast. We are facing an uncertain future and need experienced leaders who put people over politics – something I have always done.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Member, Dr. Mary Powell-St. Louis, nominated Carney.“Devin has done a wonderful job representing people here in the 23rd District. He listens, cares, and is a real voice of reason”, said Powell-St. Louis. “As a Region 18 parent and Board of Education member, I was particularly pleased with how hard he worked against state forced expanded school regionalization last year.”

Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna seconded Carney’s nomination.

“It has been a pleasure working with Devin over the past several years. He has been a strong advocate for small towns and small businesses and has worked diligently to ensure our needs are met,” Fortuna said. “His knowledge of state and local issues, active community outreach, and his legislative experience are exactly what we need as the state works through the COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath.”

Judy Tooker, Old Lyme’s Tax Collector, added, “Devin understands the unique needs of our community members, from healthcare and transportation to employment and jobs, and he will focus on the district – not partisan politics. We need his strong voice in Hartford now more than ever.”

In addition to receiving the Republican nomination on Tuesday, Carney reported that he had raised the necessary contributions to qualify for the state’s Citizens’ Clean Election Program.

Carney, who works in finance and real estate, was first elected to the legislature in 2014. He was born and raised in Old Saybrook and lives in Old Lyme with his significant other, Lisa. He currently serves as Ranking Member of the Transportation Bonding Subcommittee and serves on the legislative committees overseeing Transportation, Planning & Development, and Finance, Revenue, and Bonding. He was named a 2019 Environmental Champion by the League of Conservation Voters for his work supporting renewable energy and received the Legislative Service Award from the Connecticut Counseling Association for his work on mental health issues and opioid addiction.

In district, he serves on the Boards of the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center and Saye Brook Senior Housing. He is also an active member of the Old Saybrook Rotary Club, both the Lyme-Old Lyme and Old Saybrook Chambers of Commerce, and with Grace Church in Old Saybrook. In addition to his duties as State Representative, he serves as an alternate to the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals.