- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration has begun the process of planning for the distribution of an anticipated coronavirus vaccine, announcing Friday the members of a wide-ranging advisory group that will recommend a statewide strategy.

The group will be led by Dr. Deidre Gifford, the acting Department of Public Health commissioner, and Dr. Reginald J. Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health of New England. Members include state legislators, medical experts, union, business and religious leaders, state officials, academics and others.

During a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Lamont said he expects his advisory group will have multiple functions.

“One is just the science of the vaccines,” Lamont said. “When can we do it safely? How is it effective? How best to do it? How do you allocate? What would be those priorities?”

They’re expected to begin meeting in mid-October. The meetings will be open to the public.



It remains unclear when a vaccine will be ready for the state to distribute. In an Aug. 27 letter to governors, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told governors to be ready to distribute a vaccine by Nov. 1 and to expedite approval of applications for distribution locations.

Lamont noted that Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force who visited Connecticut on Thursday, recommended the state possibly prioritize older residents with preexisting conditions. Mathematica Policy Research, a firm the state hired to review its response to coronavirus infections in Connecticut’s nursing homes, recently recommended that residents and staff of long-term care facilities are given priority as well.

Lamont said the advisory group will also focus on communication and how to get information about any vaccine out to residents. Lamont relied on a different advisory group and private consultants when deciding how to reopen Connecticut’s economy following the pandemic shutdowns he ordered using his executive authority.

In other coronavirus-related news in Connecticut:

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PRISON VISITS

Limited social visits for offenders are being resumed at Connecticut prisons, beginning Oct. 15, the Department of Correction announced Friday.

Barred for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, noncontact visits will now be restricted to 30 minutes. A maximum of two visitors will be allowed per inmate and the visits will be available by appointment only. They have to be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance, using the agency’s website.

Visitors must be on an offender’s approved list to request a visit and they must have a confirmed date and time before arriving at the prison. They will be subject to temperature checks and health screenings before being allowed to enter the visiting room.

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UCONN SPRING PLANS

University of Connecticut officials announced Friday that all classes will be held remotely during the first two and last two weeks of the spring semester, while residential halls will continue to be limited to 50% capacity as precautions against the coronavirus.

Spring semester classes will start on Jan. 19 as originally planned and classes will be online only for the first two weeks to allow students to quarantine after returning to campus.

Spring break has been moved from the week of March 15 to the week of April 12. Residential students will return home after spring break for the final two weeks of remote classes and exams, officials said.

“We expect that many of our students, faculty, and staff will be traveling back from numerous locations after the winter break and after spring break; remote learning during those times will help minimize potential contact,” Carl Lejuez, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, said in a statement.

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Associated Press writer Dave Collins in Hartford, Connecticut, contributed to this report.

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