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Sound Bites: CT mpox infection rate increases by 175% in 2024

A physician assistant prepares a syringe with the mpox vaccine for a patient at a vaccination clinic.
Mary Altaffer
A physician assistant prepares a syringe with the mpox vaccine for a patient at a vaccination clinic.

Good morning. Eleven cases of mpox have appeared in Connecticut so far this year. This is a 175% increase from 2023. 

Formerly known as monkeypox, mpox is a potentially deadly zoonotic disease that is often spread by contact with infected animals, persons, or other materials. Despite the increase in infection in the state, no one has died yet. The CDC recommends avoiding physical contact with people with mpox rashes and getting vaccinated. 

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

Hudson River Tunnel project receives federal grant. As a part of a new agreement, the Federal Transit Administration will invest nearly $7 billion in the estimated $16 billion project. It will build a new rail tunnel, bringing New Jersey trains from Penn Station to Secaucus. The project will also fund repairs of a 114-year-old tunnel beneath the Hudson River. Officials noted that the project may take a decade to complete.

Long Island Sound Stewardship and Restoration Act extended. The bill to reauthorize the program for another five years has passed in the U.S. House. Connecticut Congressman Joe Courtney and Long Island Congressman Nick LaLota had proposed the legislation. LaLota said the act will support local economies that depend on tourism, fishing and maritime industries, and protect the region’s future.

Defendant in a Fairfield dumping scandal denied a four-year prison plea bargain. In 2020, the owner of Osprey Environmental Engineering, Robert Grabarek, was sued by the Town of Fairfield for illegally using toxic PCB-contaminated material to build a berm. PCBs were used in the production of televisions and refrigerators until their manufacturing was banned from the U.S. in 1979. Grabarek pleaded not guilty to disposing of the toxic materials and will go to trial. Jury selection for his trial is set to begin in September. If convicted, he may face up to 14 years in prison.

Replacement of two West Haven bridges set to begin this summer. Connecticut’s Department of Transportation will replace bridges 161 and 162 near Interchange 43. Both bridges are about 70-years-old, and will be upgraded with entrance ramps onto northbound and southbound lanes. The northbound entrance ramp will be closed for over two years beginning in 2025. Construction on both bridges is expected to be completed by 2027.

Former CT official Konstantinos Diamantis may be blocked from a family trip to Greece. In May, Diamantis was charged with a 22-count indictment, including extortion, bribery and making false statements to investigators. Federal authorities conducted a two-year-long investigation into Diamantis. They found he was paid by the companies Construction Advocacy Professionals and Acranom Masonry for school contracts. Prosecutors fear Diamantis may use this month-long trip to Greece to get dual citizenship and escape prosecution.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.