(WTNH) — The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t come with a set of instructions. As the hospitals began to fill, it was all hands on deck. Hartford Hospital Doctor Michael Hallisey joined his colleagues on the front lines.
What jumped out at him was the toll it was taking on them; dealing with a deadly virus that quite frankly, we didn’t know too much about.
“These are people who are facing the stress of COVID and taking care of patients. They like the distraction of talking about something that’s intriguing and thrilling like a book,” Dr. Hallisey said.
So he started a book club and bought his colleagues a series of books by bestselling author Michael Connelly. When Connelly first found out, he did not understand how his books could help. Then he spoke with Dr. Hallisey, and began to understand.
“The idea that you need a break, you need a relief, that came through. And so it’s very fulfilling to me to be in a position where maybe I can provide a little bit of that with my stories,” Connelly said.
Connelly pens detective novels and other crime fiction. His latest book just released this week is titled The Law of Innocence. It’s dedicated to Dr. Hallisey and his Hartford Hospital Book Club.
“Everyone was just like wow. This is, you know, this is real,” Hallisey said.
Connelly’s main character is Harry Bosch. In the web television series, Bosch, a police detective, is played by New Haven native Titus Welliver. Bosch’s code is, “Everybody counts, or nobody counts.”
Connelly sent Dr. Hallisey t-shirts with that slogan. Hallisey handed out the shirts and books to his colleagues. “In my mind, it’s thousands and thousands of people, but at the forefront is Dr. Hallisey-kinds leading by his example,” Connelly said.
“I told them there is medical literature that shows that crime fiction is very helpful. I call it medicine for the mind.”
Hartford judge hears testimony on safety of masks in schools as parents seek to block face coverings rule
A Hartford judge heard hours of testimony on the safety and efficacy of masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus Friday as he decides whether to grant an emergency injunction blocking a state requirement that students wear face coverings in schools.
In a daylong hearing on the injunction, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher heard from both those downplaying the effectiveness of masks as well as those who said face coverings do not negatively impact children and slow the spread of the virus.
The hearing came several weeks after a group of parents and the CT Freedom Alliance sued the state’s education department and top officials to lift the requirement that children wear masks in schools out of fear of the harms they pose to children both mentally and physically.
The assertions in the lawsuit are in direct conflict with scientific evidence that shows that mask-wearing slows the spread of COVID-19. Lawyers for the state have argued there is no evidence to support the claim that masks are dangerous and that in fact masks are protecting students as they attend in-person classes.
Quick to send students home for virtual learning in the spring, Connecticut education officials outlined extensive measures to safely return students to school this fall. Key among those measures was a requirement that students and staff wear masks in school.
Moukawsher set Friday’s hearing to get testimony from two expert witnesses called by the plaintiffs, as well as the state’s witnesses, before ruling on the request for an injunction. The state has filed a motion to dismiss the case, which Moukawsher will address after the injunction.
Lawyers for the parents and CT Freedom Alliance first called on a Los Angeles-based psychiatrist, who said that masks can inhibit development, cause stress and led to other complications for children.
“I am greatly concerned by what I am seeing … children who are forced to wear masks in a school settings as well as outside the school settings are in imminent harm,” said Dr. Mark McDonald. McDonald also noted that the risk of oxygen deprivation can led to “permanent neurological damage in children, which we will not be able to address because the window will have passed.”
The state questioned McDonald’s beliefs in masks and the government response to the pandemic. McDonald said he believes that a healthy person confers no benefits to others when wearing a mask.
The plaintiff’s second witness, Knut Whittkowski, a New York-based epidemiologist with 35 years in the field, said he reviewed scores of studies and could not find evidence that masks were effective outside a health care setting.
“I went through all the literature I could find, and all the literature I was presented and I could not find convincing evidence on the effectiveness of surgery masks or bandannas or other masks worn in non-health care settings in general,” Whittkowski said. “And in particular, I couldn’t find evidence for the effectiveness of mask wearing by children.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and