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Sound Bites: World Trade Center Health Program faces funding shortfall

Firefighters work at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center attacks, on Sept. 11, 2001.
Mark Lennihan
Firefighters work at Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Center attacks, on Sept. 11, 2001.

Good morning. Money to fund projects around Long Island Sound are running out. 

Members of Congress from Connecticut and New York have introduced a measure to reauthorize $65 million annually for water quality and shore restoration programs. They said decades of high levels of pollution, dumping of dredged materials and releases of untreated sewage have put the Sound’s wildlife population, fisheries, water quality and surrounding communities at risk. 

The current spending is expected to expire at the end of the year.

Here’s a bite-sized look at what we’re hearing:

A rare but deadly mosquito-borne disease has been spread to five more towns in Connecticut. Eastern equine encephalitis has resurfaced, infecting nine mosquito samples found in the northeastern corner of the state. During an EEE outbreak in 2019, four patients died. As of Tuesday, 117 mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile virus statewide. Officials recommend using bug repellant, wearing long sleeves and staying inside after dusk to prevent mosquito bites.

Former cannabis executive gets new job at Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection: Former Theraplant CEO Jennifer Mandzuk is now the state program manager for cannabis. Advocates and small business leaders are concerned that Mandzuk’s new title could perpetuate inequity within the state’s fledgling cannabis industry.

Frontier Communications will relocate to Texas. Based in Norwalk, Frontier plans to move its headquarters to Dallas, Texas, where the CEO is located. Employees in Connecticut have the option to work remotely. In making Dallas the home base for “Building Gigabit America,” Frontier hopes to add 3,000 new job openings.

Turning Connecticut Post Mall into mixed housing. City planner David Sulkis presented a plan to Milford’s Planning and Zoning Board to develop mixed-use housing units at the Connecticut Post Mall. The plan recommends multiple improvements, including preserving coastal lines and habitats, developing more affordable housing and improving connectivity to park areas while preserving historic heritage. The board plans to meet later this month to discuss and approve the plan.

The World Trade Center Health Program faces a $2 billion funding shortage. Currently, the program provides medical treatment and monitoring for 124,000 Americans with negative health impacts from the Sept. 11 terror attacks. While Congress extended the program until 2090, the rise in medical costs has created a shortfall in funding. A bipartisan measure could include a $676 million amendment for the health program in the latest National Defense Authorization Act.

Thirty people are arrested on drug charges in Suffolk County after a closer examination in gang activity. In response, County District Attorney Ray Tierney called for a state law allowing for prosecutors to indict on felony homicide charges in drug cases that result in fatal overdoses. Opioid deaths in New York state have tripled between 2010 and 2020, and more than 5,800 deaths statewide in 2021. The Family & Children’s Association is concerned the proposed “death by dealer” law could worsen stigma, making people hesitant to seek help for addiction.

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Andrea Quiles is a fellow at WSHU.
A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.