A Look Back: One Year of Masks in Connecticut

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It’s been nearly 365 days of wearing masks and face coverings, a concept foreign to many, which was made mandatory in Connecticut mid-April of 2020.

“For the initial it came out that you need to wear in a public space and  close setting especially if you were going to the grocery store,” Dr. James Mazo, regional medical director for occupational health and safety for Trinity Health of New England said.

Mazo said the mask mandate has evolved the past year. After initial numbers showed they helped reduce the spread of coronavirus, the demand for them went up and the sewing machines like those that belonged to Ed Johnetta Miller of Hartford fired up.

“Luckily, there was a very grassroots effort with a lot of men and women who like sewing so they could’ve made these masks for people,” Mazo said.

At the same time, the state of Connecticut was leveraging relationships with vendors across the globe to get masks to healthcare workers, nursing homes and the general public.

“Our procurement department and our emergency operations team basically had to rip up the usual procurement playbook and started scouring the earth for masks wherever we can find them,” Josh Geballe, Connecticut's chief operating officer said.

Since then, supply has held steady and for local businesses like Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in West Hartford, the shelves for masks are slimming down.

“We do it on a weekly basis, we have enough people that come in on a weekly basis and get them but we don’t order the large quantities that we used to order before,” Yehia Aryan said.

As for the future of masks in Connecticut, state leaders said they continue to follow Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations about when and where masks are appropriate.

“We’re all hopeful that we’re getting closer to the point we are certainly in certain circumstances we can start to be less strict about that,” Geballe said.

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