Gov. Ned Lamont: Some Businesses to Reopen


By Thomas Nocera, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Three months after the global pandemic of the coronavirus, Gov. Ned Lamont on Monday scheduled several type of businesses to reopen.

According to Lamont’s office, barbershops, beauty salons and several kinds of retail stories will be opened in phase one of the plan, but they will follow specific rules as described to stave off the spread of COVID-19.

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.

The governor stressed that the decision to reopen during this phase rests with each individual business owner – they are not required to open if they do not choose.

The protocols were developed by Lamont, members of his office, and the Department of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with legislators and recommendations made by the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, which consists of several of the state’s leading medical experts and representatives of several business and industry groups.

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Most Americans Want to Reopen–Not


By Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr.

Anyone who says that most Americans want to lift restrictions and reopen the economy is simply not following the data; much like the President is ignoring scientific and medical data on COVID-19. If you think the states should reopen and everybody you know agrees, well, think about this. An overwhelming majority of Americans disagree with you and with everybody you know.

This is where we are today. We have approximately 1,250,000 COVID-19 cases today and roughly 75,000 have died. Three months ago, we had 15 cases and one death. Still want to reopen?

A very recent Washington Post/University of Maryland poll found that 67 percent of Americans said they would feel uncomfortable shopping at a retail clothing store, and 78 percent would be uncomfortable at a sit-down restaurant. These were just two of eight places a big majority of Americans said restrictions should not be lifted. The other six were gun stores (70 percent), nail salons (74 percent), barbershops and hair salons (69 percent), gyms (78 percent), golf courses (59 percent), and movie theaters (82 percent). Grocery stores, whether well stocked or not, have remained open throughout the pandemic.

Governors in 30 states have begun to reopen at some level, possibly ignoring the fact that the U.S. has already surpassed 1.2 million cases, more than Spain, Italy, France, England, and Germany combined. The following are three highly reliable models of what Americans could expect, which hopefully will make those states reconsider.

In an article in USA Today, Jorge Ortiz reported that the U.S. has had an increase of at least 20,000 COVID-19 cases each day since mid-March. According to the New York Times, a CDC (Center for Disease Control) model projects the number could rise to 200,000 cases with 3,000 deaths per day.

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projected 134, 475 deaths in the U.S. by Aug. 4.

A new model from Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania projected that 117,000 Americans would be dead by June 30 and if states fully reopened, the number of Americans dead would hit 466,000 by the same date.

The obvious is that many more people will die. The question is how many and whether you will be one of them. I hope not.

Dr. Juan Andrade, Jr. is president of United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, Inc.

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Hartford HealthCare and City to Erect Mobile Test Sites


HARTFORD — Hartford will be the first site for HealthCare mobile coronavirus testing soon to reach the city’s most vulnerable and underserved populations, according to hospital officials on Thursday.

The mobile testing will focus on nursing homes first because they have been the site of numerous outbreaks. The next hot spots will be hotels housing hundreds of people relocated from homeless shelters, Mayor Luke Bronin said.

On Thursday, the city announced another program that will make coronavirus testing more accessible to the wider community: free rides for those who have an appointment at Hartford Hospital or Saint Francis Medical Center.

More than 30 percent of households in Hartford don’t have access to a car, according to the Census Bureau.

Hartford residents can now call 860-757-9311 and the city will arrange a ride to the site, Bronin said in a press conference on Thursday.

Both hospitals are also accepting people on foot. However, health officials said, driving through is safest, as it limits potential exposure to other people.

City officials urged city residents to practice social distancing and to wear masks.

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Opening the Economy: Data-Driven and Public Health Approaches


By Jagdish Khubchandani

Policymakers around the world are in a triangular tug of war between fighting COVID-19, economic rehabilitation, and ensuring societal normalcy, well-being, and health. There are no easy answers or cookbook recipes and each question among the how, why, and when to open the economy is more daunting to answer than the other one. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that we cannot make decisions based on social, cultural, religious, or economic preferences alone. Also, decision making cannot be an absolute top-down approach, but a regionally driven strategy with citizen engagement. A few suggestions for our leaders and the public:

*        Analyzing regional data on COVID-19 such as number of cases and deaths, racial/ethnic distribution of the disease, age and gender groups most affected, and social and medical history of those who are affected will help define the unique nature and extent of disease spread among communities and to strategize for customized prevention priorities. We need more testing based on population density so that the maximum number of infected people can be quarantined to break the chain of spread (the 3 T model= trace, test, treat).

*        The key data points to consider in making a decision on opening the economy should be: number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, and recoveries mapped by the smallest geographic unit; the total population of the region with sociodemographic distribution; the number of primary care and emergency services; the number of hospitals and healthcare facilities, COVID-19 testing capacity, and healthcare-related assets available (i.e. materials, devices, and human resources).  Throughout the process, ensure protection of frontline healthcare workers.

Photo Credit: Yahoo Finance

*        The rates of increase or decrease in COVID-19 cases play a major role in estimating regional transmission patterns. If a geographic region does not witness a case for more than a week, that’s positive news. Once the 2-week mark is crossed without a positive case, plans to allow many essential human activities should be formulated and implemented. Additionally, regions should be classified as high risk, moderate risk, and low risk. Those regions that should qualify as high risk should exhibit high numbers and rates of cases or deaths that remain the same or increase over time (call them “hotspots”).

*        We should categorize and redefine services as: highly essential, needed, and wanted. Based on relative importance, we should use a staggered time-phased opening approach. These classifications should keep in view, for each service, the amount of human to human contact, needs and capacities, the potential for large gatherings, demand versus supply of the service, the cost versus benefit of these services, and preparedness at service facilities as it relates to practicing aggressive hygiene and sanitation measures and social distancing for the clientele served. There should be ways to enforce the use of temperature screening devices, masks, sanitizers, and social distancing for all clients.

Photo Credit: New York Post, Dow Jones

*        Increasing the base of health prepared and health trained people in the communities would be another asset. Rapid and swift measures to educate and train lay health workers, non-physician professionals, and accelerating volunteer health services could be a priority. Academic-community partnerships and the use of professional organizations to provide data and scientific services should be done as soon as possible. All of this can be done remotely by data transfer and coordination between regional healthcare facilities, health departments, and state or federal agencies. Existing data are assets that must be utilized.

*        The last strategy is to remain prepared for shutting services again based on real-time regional evidence on COVID-19. We must also estimate, how long after we open the economy will business and industries flourish and how much time it will take to bring normalcy to life (that would create another lag in reaching our full potential). Despite phased openings, we will still see fewer workers, fewer service demands, and lesser clientele.

It is time to utilize these strategies and aggressively prepare for the next phase- opening the economy and looking into the future. We have saved millions of lives by avoiding the disease and cannot lose our gains. However, we also have to be mindful not to lose lives due to other diseases, poverty, and psychological upheaval. Based on regional data and the unique nature of COVID-19 in a community, decisions should be left to counties and local governments on opening the economy. Such decisions should also engage regional healthcare providers, scientists, business owners, and representatives of the general public. We need to reappraise the values of our democracy- of the people, for the people, and by the people. Finally, it is high time, we think global and act local.

Jagdish Khubchandani, MBBS, PhD is a Professor of Health Science at Ball State University and has a doctorate in both Medicine and Public health.

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As New COVID-19 Deaths Grow, Lamont Considers Executive Order On Masks


By Patrick Skahill, CTPublic Radio

HARTFORD — Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday that he is considering an executive order spelling out when and where Connecticut residents should wear face masks in response to the ongoing pandemic.

Despite a few flickers of hope that Connecticut was rounding the bend on COVID-19 cases, Lamont said Wednesday that virus infections continue to grow, with nearly 200 newly reported deaths.

“If you can keep your social distance, you don’t have to wear a mask,” Lamont said. “If you’re walking down the block and you’re by yourself, that’s fine. If you get to a crowded group, wear a mask. If you go into a store … wear a mask.”

Lamont said the masks don’t need to be medical quality face coverings. A cloth bandanna or handkerchief will suffice.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance recommending people wear face coverings in certain situations to protect others from contracting COVID-19. Evidence shows asymptomatic people may be able to spread the virus to others, the CDC said.

“This is the way that we can get this virus — stop it dead in its tracks — and help this state get moving again,” Lamont said.

As of Wednesday, nearly 2,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Connecticut. The state reported an additional 197 deaths, which Lamont said was attributable to a numerical backlog in reporting — not a one day death spike.

Still, hospitalizations are growing. In New Haven County, the number of people hospitalized from COVID-19 surpassed 600 on Wednesday.

As he works to contain the virus in New Haven, Mayor Justin Elicker signed an emergency order Wednesday that will require the use of face coverings in essential retail businesses, including grocery stores, big-box stores or wholesale clubs, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and package stores.

Elicker’s order also specifies that business owners may refuse customers not wearing facemasks. The order will go into effect on Friday morning.

“Wearing a mask is an important way to protect your neighbors, family members, and others from contracting COVID-19,” said Elicker, in a statement. “We are fast approaching 800 positive cases in the Elm City … Please stay home as much as you can and stay safe.”

Millions In federal aid slated for Connecticut airports 

While Bradley International Airport remains open and domestic flights are operating, the Connecticut Airport Authority, which runs Bradley, said many of its airline partners have reduced schedules or dropped their flights completely. To help mitigate similar stoppages nationwide, the government released a multi-billion dollar relief program aimed at shoring up operations at U.S. airports impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Aer Lingus, Air Canada and Spirit Airlines have temporarily stopped all operations from Bradley,” said the CAA’s Ryan Tenny in an email Wednesday. “Our other airline partners continue to adjust operations on a daily basis…we are currently experiencing over a 95% decrease in passenger traffic.”

Roughly $28.5 million of the federal aid package will go to Bradley, according to a joint statement from Connecticut’s congressional delegation. The money can be used for airport capital expenditures, operating expenses such as payroll and utilities, and debt payments.

“The impacts to our operations will likely persist for months to come,” said Kevin Dillion, executive director of the CAA in a statement. “This assistance is an essential piece of the solution.”

In addition to Bradley, Tweed-New Haven will receive roughly $1.1 million, and Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport, which is owned by the city of Bridgeport, will get about $150,000.

UConn Health using patient blood to fight COVID-19

As doctors continue to seek new ways to fight the novel coronavirus, UConn Health announced Wednesday that several employees who have recovered from COVID-19 are now in the process of donating their blood to help critically ill patients. The trial will test if the antibodies in that blood could potentially attack the virus and help patients who are sick with COVID-19 more rapidly recover.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved four healthcare systems for the study,including the Mayo Clinic and Trinity Health Of New England, which runs St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. UConn Health said Wednesday it’s joined the effort using a protocol developed by the Mayo Clinic.

“The use of convalescent plasma is not at all new to medicine, and can be traced back to the 20th century,” said Mauricio Montezuma, site principal investigator for UConn Health, in a statement. “Data on convalescent plasma in COVID-19 is limited; however, two small reports from China are promising.”

Before any donor blood would be transfused to coronavirus patients, it will be tested for several things, including virus-resistant antibodies, UConn Health said.

If the blood is suitable, the plasma will be donated.

Donors must have tested positive for coronavirus, be asymptomatic for 14 days, and have a subsequent negative test for the disease.

‘No cost’ life insurance offered to frontline healthcare workers

Medical professionals in Connecticut and Massachusetts who are risking their lives to providecare to patients infected with the novel coronavirus could soon be eligible for free life insurance, state officials said Wednesday morning.

COVID-19 Resources Page - Bullet Points

The no-cost, three-year term life insurance policy would be for medical workers employed at a licensed hospital, an urgent care center, or with an emergency medical services provider. The workers must have exposure to COVID-19 patients.

The life insurance policy, which is offered through Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, would provide up to $25,000 in no-cost benefits if the worker is between the ages of 18 and 50. Workers between the ages of 51 to 60 will receive a no-cost $10,000 death benefit. Lab technicians, custodial staff, maintenance crews, cafeteria workers and security personnel will also be considered for coverage, according to state officials.

More details and information on enrollment availability is on the MassMutual HealthBridge webpage.

Support requested for domestic violence and sexual assault victims

A bipartisan group of 39 U.S. senators, including Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), is calling for more federal funding to be made available to support programs for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The $2 trillion coronavirus relief package already approved by Congress includes about $47 million for some domestic violence services, but no funding was allocated for sexual assault and domestic violence support programs operated by U.S. Department of Justice.

Local police and representatives of support services around the U.S. are reporting increased numbers of calls for help from victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The senators seeking more funding for such programs warn that “abusers are using COVID-19 to isolate their victims, withhold financial services and refuse medical aid.”

Murphy and Blumenthal, along with their colleagues, are asking that any additional relief legislation related to the pandemic include money for sexual assault service providers, law enforcement, transitional housing and other support services.

Connecticut seeking full federal disaster funding for pandemic costs

Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s congressional delegation are asking that the federal government reimburse Connecticut for 100% of the state’s emergency spending relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. President Donald J. Trump has issued a federal disaster declaration for Connecticut as requested by Lamont, but that would only provide the state 75% federal reimbursement for state costs.

“The size and scope of this public health emergency is unprecedented,” Lamont said. “If approved, this request would bring much needed additional financial assistance to the state and our municipalities.”

In his request, Lamont said the state has already spent about $500 million on pandemic-related programs and services, money that wasn’t in the state budget. The governor said current projections are that Connecticut state government spending on COVID-19 issues “will at least triple to $1.5 billion.”

Relief requested for local farmers

As states across America adopt social distancing mandates aimed at combating the spread of COVID-19, the economic wiring of many local farms has unraveled.

Traditional buyers like nearby restaurants or schools have closed, and many farmers markets have shut down.

In response, the federal CARES Act sets aside $9.5 billion, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture will use to provide support to farmers across the nation.

Last week, senators Blumenthal and Murphy wrote to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, advocating that a portion of that money go to local food producers.

Additionally, the senators said they want the USDA to issue direct payments to qualified local farmers that are equal to 25% of annual revenue, up to a maximum of $25,000.

“For those local food producers who can provide information regarding actual COVID revenue loss and added costs, additional disaster assistance should be made available,” the senators wrote.

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Hartford Hits Grim Reality With COVID-19, First Infant Death


By Thomas Nocera, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford has likely set a grim and new global record as it struggles to contain its own Coronavirus outbreak –  the youngest victim to die from the illness passed away in the city in April.

It is reportedly the first around the world.

Just shy of seven-weeks old, the infant girl was reported to be in an unresponsive state when rushed to St. Francis Hospital, according to officials. Though doctors and nurses tried desperately to resuscitate her, Chief State Medical Examiner James Gill confirmed the child’s death on Thursday in an email.

“The infant did test positive for the COVID-19 virus and an autopsy was done at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” Gill wrote.

While medical officials say they can’t confirm the final cause of death until a necessary battery of tests is performed, the news has already rippled throughout the state. With the death of someone so young from the illness a rarity, Gov. Ned Lamont addressed the “tragic milestone” in a press conference.

“Probably the youngest person, ever, to die of COVID,” he recently informed viewers, “has died here in Connecticut.”

Urging people to continue practicing social distancing, Lamont joined an increasingly loud chorus of elected officials asking for the public’s help – including Mayor Luke Bronin. In a press conference Friday, Bronin announced a troubling new statistic: the 120 now-confirmed COVID cases in Hartford marks a 50 percent increase from just two days ago. In response, he said, his administration would be enforcing new, stricter measures.

“We are stepping up enforcement efforts to require social distancing,” he said. Specifically, inspectors will be “assessing compliance with social distancing requirements” at many stores still open throughout the city.

As the virus slowly burns its way through communities across the country, Hartford’s steady increase in cases has been thoroughly tracked and documented. While cases are spread widely throughout, pinpointed statistics on everything from the number of cases and deaths, to changes in the rate of infection, have been essential in informing the government’s response. Those statistics aren’t compiled in Hartford however. Instead they make their way through a web of hospitals and state officials before hitting the Mayor’s desk. Hartford’s Director of Health, Liany Arroyo, explained how that network functions in a statement:

“We receive information about cases and fatalities from the State Department of Public Health, which receives data from hospitals and laboratories. The numbers we get are directly from the State, which compiles information and inputs it into a statewide database which our local Health Department accesses multiple times a day.”

Analysis of that database has led city officials to embrace more stringent rules, concluding that the outbreak will get worse before it gets better. While Bronin hopes his new measures will eventually help decrease the number of cases, he struck a somber tone about the near future.

“We’re going to be in this for a while,” he said Friday. “We’re going to be seeing increases for a while.”

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COVID-19 Local, Resources for Hartford


The Hartford Guardian is working to keep you up to date about daily breaking news that educate and inform Hartford residents. Please check back as we continue to alert you of ways to cope with the corona virus epidemic.

Can’t get be at a hospital to test for the coronavirus? Take a telehealth test and find out if you have the virus. Click here: TELEHEALTH TEST FOR CORONAVIRUS.

FREE RIDES TO COVID-19 TEST SITES: Call 311 for more information or 860-757-9311.

Feel isolated at home? Lonely? Get together online for a virtual social soiree: Click here.

CLICK HERE FOR : HEALTH GUIDE ON THE CORONA VIRUS

Find out more about the city of Hartford’s effort to educate the public about the Coronavirus: See link here: https://coronavirus.hartford.gov/

MOBILE FOODSHARE: Foodshare.org/mobile

FOODSHARE 24 HOUR HOTLINE: 860-856-4321

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS : filectui.org

Check on Gov. Ned Lamont’s effort to help Connecticut residents stay up to date: https://portal.ct.gov/coronavirus

COVID-19 RESOURCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updates

Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) Updates

Covid-19 in Connecticut, Latest Data

Hartford Healthcare Updates

WHO daily report

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Lighting the way to safe, permanent homes for kids


By Josiah Brown

November is National Adoption Month.  Amid the opioid epidemicwith the number of Connecticut children in foster care increasing past 4,300 (after having earlier dropped below 4,000)— and with the total number of children under the juvenile court’s jurisdiction due to abuse or neglect exceeding 10,000 per year— let’s consider ways to help these young people secure safe, permanent homes.

All children deserve this, whether with their biological families, extended kin, or adoptive families.  Let’s also recognize people who open their homes as foster parents, during traumatic periods of transition.

Public consciousness around adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is growing. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found six in 10 Americans experience at least one adverse experience such as household violence, drug or alcohol or sexual abuse, or incarceration of a family member— during childhood.  Nearly one in six endure four or more different types of such experiences, with women and African Americans among those at greater risk.

According to the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat, “Preventing ACEs can help children and adults…. The more types of ACEs a person has, the higher their risk for negative outcomes, which will limit their opportunities.”  Dangers range from health conditions like diabetes, depression, and hypertension to struggles with school, work, and relationships.

Progress, but serious challenges remain

Connecticut is making progress in caring for children at particular riskthe fraction who, after investigation by the Department of Children and Families (DCF, which decides to keep children at home in over 90% of cases), are placed under protection.  Especially encouraging was the move, as former DCF Commissioner Joette Katz notes, from institutions to families; the percentage of children protected in residential facilities fell from about 30% to 8% between January 2011 and 2019.  She observes, “of those who remained there, many have complex medical needs.”

Such progress is bolstered by public and nonprofit actorsfrom the Governor’s Task Force on Justice for Abused ChildrenOffice of the Child Advocate, and Connecticut Alliance of Adoptive and Foster Families, to the Center for Children’s Advocacy and Children’s Law Center.  (New Haven alone has, for example, Connecticut Voices for ChildrenClifford Beers‘r kids, and various school, university, faith-based, and hospital resources.)  Other things being equal, the aim is to return children to their families.  But if that’s not safe or wise in a specific case, having foster care and adoption available is crucial.

Judges play a fundamental role in determining a child’s best interest in such cases.  The process also includes professional attorneys and social workers, to protect children from birth to adolescence.  But these professionals often have large caseloads.  In this process, another valuable role is that of a court-appointed special advocate (CASA).

CASA volunteers can help

CASAs are volunteers from all walks of life whom judges appoint to collaborate in discerning and defending the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.  These volunteers meet with children at least monthly, getting to know them and their circumstancesincluding teachers and social workers, foster parents and families.  Carefully screened and trained through a systematic curriculum and part of a national network recognized for improving outcomes for kids, CASAs make evidence-based recommendations to judges.  At the center: these caring, consistent volunteers’ relationships with the children themselves—with whom these adults can make a lifelong difference through one-on-one interactions at a difficult time.

The CASA network has an established affiliate in Fairfield County and a new statewide association.  This work is expanding as a result of a 2016 state law.  Until now, only 1 percent of Connecticut’s children in foster care had CASAs, reflecting an unmet need and an enormous opportunity for volunteers to get involved.  In 2019, CASA of Southern Connecticut and CASA of Northern Connecticut started up, received 501(c)(3) status, and began welcoming applications from prospective volunteers.  The first cohort will train in December and begin volunteer advocacy in juvenile courts early in the new year.  Engaging as a CASA is one proven way to help change a child’s story.  Ultimately the goal is to identify a safe, permanent home where the child can thrive.

“Help … light the way”

As Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, says: “Keeping children safe must be everybody’s business.  CASA volunteers play a unique role on behalf of some of our most vulnerable children.  Their commitment, vigilance and persistence offer hope where there has been little.  They help to light the way for these children—and for all of us.”

November is Adoption Month.  This holiday, as we cherish blessings of family and friends, let’s also think of children whose family ties have frayed or fractured.  Whether through adoption, fostering, volunteering in some other way —including as a CASA— or supporting organizations advancing such efforts, there is much we can do— as well as much to be thankful for.

Josiah H. Brown is executive director of CASA of Southern Connecticut (New Haven, New London, and Middlesex counties). Twitter: @JosiahBrownCT

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If You’re Over 50, Chances Are the Decision to Leave a Job Won’t be Yours


A new data analysis by ProPublica and the Urban Institute shows more than half of older U.S. workers are pushed out of longtime jobs before they choose to retire, suffering financial damage that is often irreversible.

By Peter Gosselin

Tom Steckel hunched over a laptop in the overheated basement of the state Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota, early last week, trying to figure out how a newly awarded benefit claims contract will make it easier for him do his job.

Steckel is South Dakota’s director of employee benefits. His department administers programs that help the state’s 13,500 public employees pay for health care and prepare for retirement.

It’s steady work and, for that, Steckel, 62, is grateful. After turning 50, he was laid off three times before landing his current position in 2014, weathering unemployment stints of up to eight months.

When he started, his $90,000-a-year salary was only 60 percent of what he made at his highest-paying job. Even with a subsequent raise, he’s nowhere close to matching his peak earnings.

Money is hardly the only trade-off Steckel has made to hang onto the South Dakota post.

He spends three weeks of every four away from his wife, Mary, and the couple’s three children, who live 700 miles away in Plymouth, Wisconsin, in a house the family was unable to sell for most of the last decade.

Steckel keeps photos of his wife, Mary, and their three children on the mantel at his rented place in Pierre. (Ackerman + Gruber, special to ProPublica)

With Christmas approaching, he set off late on Dec. 18 for the 11-hour drive home. When the holiday is over, he’ll drive back to Pierre.

“I’m glad to be employed,” he said, “but this isn’t what I would have planned for this point in my life.”

Many Americans assume that by the time they reach their 50s they’ll have steady work, time to save and the right to make their own decisions about when to retire.

But as Steckel’s situation suggests, that’s no longer the reality for many — indeed, most — people.

ProPublica and the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, or HRS, the premier source of quantitative information about aging in America. Since 1992, the study has followed a nationally representative sample of about 20,000 people from the time they turn 50 through the rest of their lives.

Through 2016, our analysis found that between the time older workers enter the study and when they leave paid employment, 56 percent are laid off at least once or leave jobs under such financially damaging circumstances that it’s likely they were pushed out rather than choosing to go voluntarily.

Only one in 10 of these workers ever again earns as much as they did before their employment setbacks, our analysis showed. Even years afterward, the household incomes of over half of those who experience such work disruptions remain substantially below those of workers who don’t.

“This isn’t how most people think they’re going to finish out their work lives,” said Richard Johnson, an Urban Institute economist and veteran scholar of the older labor force who worked on the analysis. “For the majority of older Americans, working after 50 is considerably riskier and more turbulent than we previously thought.”

The HRS is based on employee surveys, not employer records, so it can’t definitively identify what’s behind every setback, but it includes detailed information about the circumstances under which workers leave jobs and the consequences of these departures.

We focused on workers who enter their 50s with stable, full-time jobs and who’ve been with the same employer for at least five years — those who HRS data and other economic studies show are least likely to encounter employment problems. We considered only separations that result in at least six months of unemployment or at least a 50 percent drop in earnings from pre-separation levels.

Then, we sorted job departures into voluntary and involuntary and, among involuntary departures, distinguished between those likely driven by employers and those resulting from personal issues, such as poor health or family problems. (See the full analysis here.)

We found that 28 percent of stable, longtime employees sustain at least one damaging layoff by their employers between turning 50 and leaving work for retirement.

“We’ve known that some workers get a nudge from their employers to exit the work force and some get a great big kick,” said Gary Burtless, a prominent labor economist with the Brookings Institution in Washington. “What these results suggest is that a whole lot more are getting the great big kick.”

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Hartford Raises the Age for Buying Tobacco Products. It’s a Good Start.


By Ruth Canovi

Congratulations to the Hartford City Council on passing an ordinance that raises the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. The ordinance, which was introduced by Councilman Larry Deutsch, makes Hartford the first city in the State of Connecticut to pass this policy.

The ordinance, which includes the purchase of electronic cigarettes, was passed just weeks after an announcement from the State Department of Public Health that the number of high school students using electronic cigarettes doubled in just two years.

According to their report, 14.7 percent of high school students reported current use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), compared to 7.2 percent in 2015. The survey found one in 10 ninth graders and over one in five 12th graders currently use ENDS. That report mirror’s the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control Report which concluded that 14 percent of high school students in the state of Connecticut are using tobacco.

We also know that nearly 95 percent of adult smokers report trying their first cigarette before the age of 21 – and that this policy can save lives.

In fact, according to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) increasing the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21 could prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer – the nation’s leading cancer killer.

Some of those lives are Connecticut’s children — and we applaud Hartford for taking clear and decisive steps to safeguard their future.

The bottom line is that tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, and the leadership in Hartford should be an example for other local municipalities and the state. As of today, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, and Massachusetts have led the way on tobacco 21, but with Hartford out in front, Connecticut should be next.

Ruth Canovi is Director of Public Policy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut.  

This was first published at ctmirror.org.

 

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