Health

COVID-19 and Pets

fluffy dog smiling at the camera

A message from CDC: There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States. Download the fact sheets:

COVID-19 and Animals: Is Coronavirus a Concern for Pets?

How to Stay Healthy Around Pets

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

Wethersfield Continues to Offer UConn PEP Program

UConn PEP logo Around the state, organizations have found a way to continue UConn Extension’s Parent Leadership Training, part of our People Empowering People (UConn PEP) program.  With technology, determination and creativity PEP facilitators are keeping their parent leaders connected and informed during this difficult time by offering the UConn PEP program via Zoom.

One such program is being run by the Wethersfield Early Childhood Collaborative (WECC) and Wethersfield Public Schools. UConn PEP Facilitator Jeanine Berasi is in her 4th year as a PEP facilitator.  Jeanine started by contacting parents one at a time and doing a social check in. Next she practiced using Zoom with each family. Once parents felt comfortable, Jeanine offered Wethersfield’s first UConn PEP Program online via Zoom. Jeanine coordinated with WECC staff to have a local business, Cove Deli, deliver meals to each family (dinner was offered as part of the program when the group met in person). Here is what participants had to say about the program:

“We are living some challenging times where the stress level at home can be elevated.  Our routines have changed and we are now the actual teachers to our children and so much more. Meeting with my PEP 2020 friends through Zoom last week was like taking a breath of fresh air.  Not only was that alleviating to the soul but receiving the dinner delivered was touching to the hearts of my children and myself. I’m so grateful that I’m part of this group not only because of the challenging times we are living but also because of the great friends I’ve made. Thank you so much PEP 2020.”   – Nancy

“In a time where we are all being asked to self quarantine, it was truly great to see everyone’s faces while we talked about our trying times. To be able to offer support or an ear to listen about what we are feeling; the Zoom meeting was able to give us a bit of normalcy. Having dinner delivered was as close as we could get to hanging with our group.” – Allison
“Zoom communication is great at this time, especially for me that I’m only home with my daughter. My husband is working in Massachusetts. He is staying there because he doesn’t want to risk our health. It’s very scary, however being able to communicate with PEP is a relief and I know I’m not alone in this. Also food delivery is amazing, it’s such a great gesture when you know someone is thinking about you at this cruel time.  I’m so grateful for PEP especially for Kim and Jeanine! God bless everyone and may we pass this as soon as possible. Thank you 🙏🏻”  – Besa

“So thankful for our PEP leadership…. Jeanine didn’t miss a beat and quickly coordinated virtual classes/meetings via the Zoom app and even provided us with dinner delivery, such a kind and greatly appreciated gesture during these tumultuous and uneasy times.“ – Carolina

In a time when so much is uncertain, we are grateful to all of you for finding ways to support each other and stay connected. Stay Safe.

– Robin Drago-Provencher, UConn PEP

Guidance for Equine Businesses

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Guidance for Horseback Riding Schools and Stables / Boarding Stables

Source: Connecticut Department of Agriculture

horses in early morning light at UConn
An early morning view of horses along Horse Barn Hill Road. Photo: UConn

HARTFORD, CT – In addition to implementing the Stay Home, Stay Safe protocols effective on March 23, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. through April 22, 2020; Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7H required the Department of Economic and Community Development to provide a guidance document to determine essential businesses.

The Essential Businesses or Nonprofits designated in the guidance are not subject to the in-person restriction set forth in Executive Order 7H. Item 7 Services Including contained: “Animal shelters or animal care or management, including boarding, grooming, pet walking and pet sitting” as an essential business.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg), working in concert with the Connecticut Farm Bureau and the Connecticut Horse Council, recognizes that this is a challenging time for all – both equine boarding facilities and horse owners alike. It is our intent to ensure the health and welfare of animals is met, while mitigating the risk to the people engaged in those tasks. It is prudent for all of us to use common sense as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Every equine facility is unique with various capacities, services, and capabilities in providing the care essential to the wellbeing and health of the horses entrusted in their care.

Stables providing full-board services that meet all of the horses’ needs may set their own policies about restricting access by owners seeking to visit or ride horses. The Department supports limitations imposed by stable owners. Specific concerns regarding care should be addressed between the horse owner and stable owner/manager.

All stables should set up a schedule of access times to ensure that there are no more than five (5) people at the barn at one time. It is imperative that the principles of social distancing, proper disinfecting, and sanitary practices are maintained. Stables are free to enact additional measures and controls as needed to ensure the safety of all.

This guidance document cannot cover every single scenario. The following information is meant to clarify what equine activities may continue and which should be discontinued at this time.

Essential Equine Care

  • Providing food, water, proper handling, health care (veterinary and farrier services), and proper housing
  • Turnout and exercise necessary to an individual horse

Not Essential Equine Care

  • Riding lessons/programs/camps
  • Club/organization meetings
  • Visits to an equine facility by anyone other than an essential equine caregiver

Recommended Practices

  • Maintain the recommended social distancing protocols that include six (6) feet of separation between individuals
  • Limit gatherings to fewer than five (5) people
  • Ensure proper hand washing
  • Limit access to and disinfect common areas regularly
  • Avoid sharing equipment and supplies between people
    • Non-porous materials (leather bridles/saddles/halters, nylon halters/lead ropes, gate latches, door handles, spray nozzle) harbor the virus longer than porous materials (cotton lead ropes, saddle pads)
    • Clean communal leather tack daily with tack cleaner
    • Disinfect gate latches, spray nozzles, cross tie snaps, pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and other frequently used items regularly or after contact with personnel
    • Stall door latches, hose ends, light switches and feed scoops should be cleaned and disinfected frequently
  • Sporting events are prohibited

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state’s citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state’s economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.

Equine Business Guidelines

Connecticut Department of Agriculture: Equine COVID Guidance (download this post)

Essential Equine During a Pandemic – Frequently Asked Questions

Essential versus Nonessential Equine Care During a Pandemic

Personal Preparedness Plan for Equine Owners

Recipe: Peanut Butter Power Balls

peanut butter power balls

A snack you can make with your children.
(Un bocadillo que puedes hacer con tus hijos.)
Stay home and enjoy
(a quedarse en casa y a disfrutar)

Peanut Butter Power Balls
Ingredients

1- Cup oatmeal
1- Cup peanut butter (any nut butter)
½- cup honey
½- cup nonfat dry milk (optional)
½- cup raisins
½- cup wheat germ or any cereals crush up
1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients except wheat germ.
Shape in to one-inch balls and roll in wheat germ or cereal. Yield: 36 balls

Ingredientes

1 taza avena
1 taza mantequilla de maní (cualquier otra nuez)
½ taza miel abeja
½ taza leche en polvo (opcional)
½ taza pasas
½ taza germen de trigo
1 cucharadita de canela

Combine todos los ingredientes excepto germen de trigo. Forme bolitas de una pulgada y enróllelas en el germen de trigo o cereal Rinde: 36 bolitas

Recipe courtesy of Angela Caldera, UConn Extension EFNEP

Food Safety and COVID-19

raised bed in foodshare garden

March 26, 2020 Update

The following information has been compiled for the general public and for those who come under essential businesses in Connecticut.

FDA resources:

  • FDA has recently stated that food supply is safe among COVID-19 and there are no current disruptions in the supply chain. Consumers should be confident in the safety of their food. To read more about coronavirus impacting the food industry please visit FDA leaders_food supply is safe.
  • If you have questions such as
      1. How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?
      2. A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees? 

or other concerns regarding Food safety and COVID-19, please visit FDA Latest FAQs

Consumer resources:

  • As a consumer if you have questions such as
      1. Should I mist produce with a very diluted bleach solution (a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) and let it air dry before I eat it to avoid contracting COVID-1?
      2. Does cooking foods kill the virus that causes COVID-19? (Short answer- YES) 

Please visit Consumer_FAQs

Since, it is believed that cooking can kill viruses, it is recommended that the high-risk population (especially under current circumstances) such as immunocompromised hosts and seniors, avoid the consumption of RAW produce.

Other food safety resources:

  • For questions that food industry in other states (NY and neighboring) may have such as
      1. How long can COVID-19 remain viable on different surfaces?
      2. Can animals raised for food and animal products be source of infection with COVID-19?

Please visit FAQs_FoodIndustry

For businesses:

  • Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program,a qualifying business or nonprofit organization can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser). All of the information can be found at  CT_Recovery Bridge Loan Program
  • The American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fundwill award farmers with cash grants of up to $1000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially eligible applicants include any small and mid-sized direct-market producers. For complete information go to the ATF website at Farmer Relief Fund.

As always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me. At UConn extension, we will try to answer your queries as soon as possible and keep you updated as we know more.

Educator: Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD,

Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety

Virtual Extension Programs

man sitting at an Apple computerConnect with Extension – even during COVID-19 social distancing. We have a variety of virtual Extension programs available for you over the coming weeks:

  • Friday, April 3rd – All DayInstagram stories with Abby Beissinger, our Plant Diagnostician
  • Friday, April 3rd – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share horse books for adults to enjoy in a Facebook Live session
  • Monday, April 6th – 8:30 AM – Extending the Grazing Season webinar hosted by Rachel Bespuda for our program, Nutrition’s Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. Pre-registration is requested.
  • Monday, April 6th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEARFrom Maps to Apps: Accessible Tech for Field Scientists and Citizen Scientists Alike 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Emily Wilson, UConn CLEARStatewide LIDAR Elevation Points in Interactive, Color 3D! 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 15th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Friday, April 17th – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share what you need to know about model horse shows in a Facebook Live session
  • Wednesday, April 22nd – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 29th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 6th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 13th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 20th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 27th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family

Check back often. We are adding programs from our Master Gardener program, as well as programs on cooking and nutrition from UConn EFNEP.

Recorded Webinars and Video Lessons Available On-Demand

Tips for Parents and Caregivers of Children: Children and COVID-19

kids with greensTips to keep children healthy while school’s out

Children are not at higher risk

Based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults. While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date. You can learn more about who is most at risk for health problems if they have COVID-19 infection on Are you at higher risk for severe illness.

Steps to protect children from getting sick

You can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.

  • Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid people who are sick (coughing and sneezing)
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

You can find additional information on preventing COVID-19 at Prevention for 2019 Novel Coronavirus and at Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Communities. Additional information on how COVID-19 is spread is available at How COVID-19 Spreads.

Children may present with mild symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally presented with mild symptoms. Reported symptoms in children include cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported. It’s not known yet whether some children may be at higher risk for severe illness, for example, children with underlying medical conditions and special healthcare needs. There is much more to be learned about how the disease impacts children.

Children don’t need to wear face masks

No. If your child is healthy, there is no need for them to wear a face mask. Only people who have symptoms of illness or who are providing care to those who are ill should wear masks.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Children Home From School: Advice for Parents

three children in helmets on bikesChildren and their friends

Limit Social Interactions: The key to slowing the spread of COVID-19 is to limit social interactions as much as possible. Parents should minimize play dates, and if held, parents should keep the groups small. Advise older children to hang out in a small group and to meet up outside rather than inside. It’s easier to keep and maintain space between others in outdoor settings, like parks.

Practice Social Distancing: If you have small meetups, consider hanging out with another family or friend who is also taking extra measures to put distance between themselves and others (i.e. social distancing).

Clean and Disinfect: Make sure children practice everyday preventive behaviors, such as cleaning and then disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Parents are role models for kids.

Revise Spring Break & Travel Plans: Parents should help their older children revise spring break plans that included non-essential travel to crowded areas.

Remember, if children meet outside of school in bigger groups, it can put everyone at risk.

Information about COVID-19 in children is somewhat limited, but current data suggest children with COVID-19 may show only mild symptoms. However, they can still pass this virus onto others who may be at higher risk, including older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions.

Help children continue learning

Stay in touch with your child’s school.

  • Many schools are adapting in-person lessons to online or virtual learning. Review assignments from the school, and help your child establish a reasonable pace for completing the work. You may need to assist your child with turning on devices, reading instructions, and typing answers.
  • Communicate challenges to your school. If you face technology or connectivity issues, or if your child is having a hard time completing assignments, let the school know.

Create a schedule and routine for learning at home, but remain flexible.

  • Have consistent bedtimes and get up at the same time, Monday through Friday.
  • Structure the day for learning, free time, healthy meals and snacks, and physical activity.
  • Allow flexibility in the schedule—it’s okay to adapt based on your day.

Consider the needs and adjustment required for your child’s age group.

  • The transition to being at home will be different for preschoolers, K-5, middle school students, and high school students. Talk to your child about expectations and how they are adjusting to being at home versus at school.
  • Consider ways your child can stay connected with their friends without spending time in person.

Look for ways to make learning fun.

  • Have hands-on activities, like puzzles, painting, drawing, and making things.
  • Independent play can also be used in place of structured learning. Encourage children to build a fort from sheets or practice counting by stacking blocks.
  • Practice handwriting and grammar by writing letters to family members. This is a great way to connect and limit face-to-face contact.
  • Start a journal with your child to document this time and discuss the shared experience.
  • Use audiobooks or see if your local library is hosting virtual or live-streamed reading events.

School meal services

Check with your school on plans to continue meal services during the school dismissal. Many schools are keeping school facilities open to allow families to pick up meals or are providing grab-and-go meals at a central location.

Keep children healthy

Watch your child for any signs of illness.

  • If you see any sign of illness consistent with symptoms of COVID-19, particularly fever, cough, or shortness of breath, keep your child at home and away from others as much as possible. Follow CDC’s guidance on “What to do if you are sick.”

Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.

  • Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching children to wash their hands. Explain that hand washing can keep them healthy and stop the virus from spreading to others.
  • Be a good role model—if you wash your hands often, they’re more likely to do the same.
  • Make handwashing a family activity.

Help your child stay active.

  • Encourage your child to play outdoors—it’s great for physical and mental health. Take a walk with your child or go on a bike ride.
  • Use indoor activity breaks (e.g., stretch breaks, dance breaks) throughout the day to help your child stay healthy and focused.

Help your child stay socially connected.

Limiting time with older adults, relatives, and people with chronic medical conditions

Older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions are at highest risk of getting sick from COVID-19.

  • If others in your home are at particularly high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, consider extra precautions to separate your child from those individuals.
  • If you are unable to stay home with your child during school dismissals, carefully consider who might be best positioned to provide childcare. If someone at higher risk for COVID-19 will be providing care (e.g., older adult, such as a grandparent or someone with a chronic medical condition), limit your children’s contact with those people.
  • Consider postponing visits or trip to see older family members and grandparents. Connect virtually or by writing letters and sending via mail.

Source: Centers for Disease Control

COVID-19: Nationwide Child Nutrition Waivers

COVID-19: Nationwide Child Nutrition Waivers

student in Norwalk with strawberry in the garden
Photo: Heather Peracchio

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to issue nationwide waivers to ensure access to meals through the child nutrition programs as communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to issue waivers to increase cost. In order for a state to use a nationwide waiver, the state child nutrition agency must notify their USDA Regional Office that it elects to use the waiver. The guidance directs state agencies to inform local program operators of the flexibilities provided by these waivers as quickly as possible and to work in partnership with schools, local government agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and other entities that operate the child nutrition programs to provide accessible meals to all participants safely.

Prior to implementing any of the following waivers or providing meals through the child nutrition programs, schools and other program operators should receive approval from their state child nutrition agency in order to ensure that the meals served will be reimbursed. All of the waivers listed below are in effect until June 30, 2020.

·       Non-Congregate Feeding: USDA has issued a nationwide waiver to allow meals to be provided outside of a congregate feeding setting. Meals can be distributed at a site where families pick up the meals, as well as be delivered to children’s homes. USDA has provided additional guidance on meal delivery. The state child nutrition agency needs to sign off on the distribution model. In addition, USDA did not issue a separate nationwide waiver to provide multiple meals, but its guidance on Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during COVID-19 Outbreak gives state agencies the authority to approve methods that include meals for multiple days. The waiver applies to all of the federal child nutrition programs: School Breakfast Program (SBP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and Child Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

·       Meal Service Times: USDA has issued a nationwide waiver to provide flexibility to the meal service time requirements. The waiver applies to all of the federal child nutrition programs: SBP, NSLP, SFSP, and CACFP.

·       Activity Requirement in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs: The waiver eliminates the requirement to provide educational or enrichment activities when providing snacks through NSLP or meals and snacks through CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Program.

States that use one or more of the nationwide waivers must submit a report to USDA that summarizes the use of the waiver(s) and describes the role that the waiver(s) played in improving services to program participants.

These nationwide waivers are an important first step, but there are a number of additional waivers that are needed in order to ensure access to meals during this crisis. These include waiving the area eligibility requirement for SFSP and CACFP and any other eligibility requirements for SBP and NSLP that are necessary to ensure access. In addition, USDA can waive administrative requirements that create barriers to access, such as allowing flexible non-congregate models of meal service; administrative simplifications; suspending onsite monitoring visits and state audits; and reducing record-keeping requirements in CACFP, as well as the other federal child nutrition programs as needed. Until USDA issues these waivers nationwide, state agencies can continue to apply for them as state waivers, and advocates, schools, program operators, and sponsors should encourage their states to apply for them if they have not already.

FRAC will update this document as additional nationwide waivers are issued. For more information on efforts and opportunities to ensure children have access to nutritious meals during COVID-19 school closures, visit FRAC’s website.

Source: Food Research & Action Center