Connecticut’s large network of chain drug stores and its independents played a vital role in the state’s successful COVID-19 vaccination efforts, said Nathan Tinker, CEO of the Connecticut Pharmacists Association.
“They were on the front end of that deal with the government, and that really got the vaccine into the community at a pretty quick pace,” he said.
Connecticut has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the United States, with 73% of the state’s population aged 18 years old and older fully vaccinated as of July 9 and 61.5% of the population overall fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tinker said the state’s high vaccination rate has translated into more confidence among the population and lower ongoing infection rates.
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“People were willing to get vaccinated in order to get back into the ‘real world,’” he said.
Although some independent pharmacies were particularly hard hit by the pandemic early on, Tinker said he believes they are benefitting from a “return to normalcy.”
In addition, chain drug stores in Connecticut “have been as busy as I have ever seen them,” he said.
“It is great to see people getting back to that level of comfort in the community,” Tinker said. “The stores are doing a good job of telling their story that they are safe and ready to get back to business.”
Like many states in New England that were relatively slow to ease restrictions meant to stop the spread of the virus, Connecticut’s economic recovery has lagged behind some states in the South and Midwest that opened up their economies more quickly. However, as the year goes on, the outlook is improving.
Connecticut has recovered 64.6% of the 292,400 jobs lost in March and April of 2020, the state Department of Labor reported in July.
“Even with some recent weakness, construction and retail trade have regained 70% or more of the jobs lost during the pandemic,” said Patrick Flaherty, director of the Connecticut Department of Labor Office of Research, in a statement.
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Many of the abandoned retail spaces in the state that have proliferated during the pandemic, however, may end up being converted to new uses, according to a recent report from law firm Pullman & Comley.
“Confronted with the challenges of replacing failed anchor tenants and an over-retailed environment, a number of owners are converting their underperforming malls and retail centers into warehouses and distribution centers to meet the demand for last-mile deliveries from e-commerce and surviving brick-and-mortar retailers,” the report noted.
Amazon, for example, launched several distribution sites in Connecticut last year and has 3 million square feet of distribution space in the state, with plans to add more, according to the report.