West Hartford nursing home among first in nation to receive COVID vaccine

Medical volunteers collect COVID-19 tests as the city’s Concerned Clergy Coalition joined together with churches Rose of Sharon, Rehobeth Fellowship, Jesus is Lord and Faith Tabernacle, along with Stamford’s NAACP and CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) to distribute protective masks and gloves, as well as handing out food and paper supplies to area residents in need. The first of many planned distributions by the combine churches according to Bishop James Hinton, pastor of Rose of Sharon. Along with the Mask and food distribution, COVID 19 testing was provided by Dr. Tabitha B. Fortt Medical, a family practitioner based in Stamford, along with a group of doctors who volunteered their time to provide free COVID 19 testing to residents. Several hundred residents were given a nasal swab test while also receiving some of the 150 prepared bags of food and paper supplies and the distribution of over 2000 masks during the drive.

As many as five Connecticut nursing homes will be among the first in the nation to receive COVID-19 vaccines on Friday.

One of the locations will be The Reservoir in West Hartford, where staff will be given the first of a two-dose injection during a clinic run by CVS personnel at 10 a.m. Friday, said Lori Mayer, a spokeswoman for the facility’s parent company, Genesis HealthCare.

Gov. Ned Lamont is scheduled to attend the event, Mayer said.

The governor’s office has said the first injections at nursing homes would begin Monday, but Mayer said the organization was notified by CVS that The Reservoir would start vaccinating residents and staff on Friday.

“It’s one of the first in the country,” Mayer said.

The news comes as Connecticut recorded 2,319 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and the daily positivity rate rose to 7.41 percent.

The number of patients hospitalized fell by 15, bringing the statewide total to 1,254.

Hartford Health Care is setting up a field hospital at the Connecticut Convention Center, a move the governor called “precautionary,” in case the state sees a surge after the Christmas holiday.

Another 40 fatalities attributed to the disease were also reported on Wednesday, with the statewide death toll now reaching 5,506.

The governor said federal authorities identified four states where they wanted to prioritize nursing home vaccinations.

“Fortunately for us, Connecticut was one of those four states, so we did get the vaccine shipment a little earlier, and we got Walgreens, CVS ready to go,” Lamont said.

The Associated Press reported up to five nursing homes in the state could receive the vaccine Friday.

Lamont said he could not name the facilities during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The Reservoir staff will be vaccinated outdoors during a media event Friday morning, Mayer said. The company is still determining how to vaccinate residents during the event.

No other Genesis facilities are scheduled to be vaccinated that day, according to Mayer. Other facilities run by the company are scheduled for Monday.

It is unclear why the West Hartford nursing home was selected for the vaccines on Friday.

Mike DeAngelis, a spokesman for CVS Health, said the company’s “pharmacy teams will be vaccinating in a handful of long-term care facilities in Connecticut and Ohio” on Friday ahead of the national rollout on Monday.

He deferred questions about the timing of vaccinations at long-term care facilities to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doctors and other health care workers at Connecticut hospitals have already begun this week receiving injections of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

On Monday, an intensive care unit nurse in New York became the first person in the U.S. to receive the vaccine just days after the Food and Drug Administration cleared the shot for emergency use, the Associated Press reported.

Health officials in the U.K. began giving out the vaccine to health care workers and elderly patients there after the country’s regulators cleared the vaccine for use ahead of the U.S.

Lamont said Wednesday evening Connecticut has received all of its shipments of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer for this week, ahead of a nor’easter expected to bury most of the state under a foot or more of snow.

Also on Wednesday, the governor signed a new executive order permitting caterers to sell sealed containers of alcohol, so long as they are served with an order of food.

The order also suspended tax deadlines that come due on Jan. 1 of next year, and suspended the municipal assessor certification program.

Connecticut’s long-term care facilities have been particularly hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s first death attributed to the virus involved a man in his 90s who had been living at an assisted living home in Ridgefield.

The Reservoir has reported around a half-dozen deaths attributed to the disease since the start of the pandemic, according to weekly data on long-term care facilities released by the state. As of last week, no new cases of COVID-19 had been reported among The Reservoir’s 38 residents.

During much of the year, deaths among residents at nursing homes and assisted living facilities regularly comprised 70 percent or more of the total deaths reported in the state — compared to just under 40 percent in the rest of the country.

Connecticut Media Group