With some of Connecticut's municipal mask mandates ending and vaccines for kids getting closer, we want to take a closer look at where we are in the pandemic.
NBC Connecticut's Dan Corcoran sat down with Doctor Howard Forman, a professor of public health and management at Yale University.
Dan: Let's start with the big picture. Is it too soon to know if we can relax a little bit or is now the time to stay vigilant with winter coming?
Howard: People just need to be, as you said, vigilant, but they also just need to be flexible about that we might be able to take masks off for periods of time, but we might have to put them back on. We might right now be very flexible about the need for boosters, but we could very, very in a short amount of time, all of a sudden tell people that boosters are almost mandatory.
Dan: New numbers from the Department of Public Health released yesterday show that eligible age groups in Connecticut are between 70% and 95% vaccinated. How much does that success affect where Connecticut stands in the pandemic?
Howard: You're looking at places like Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and while we've had small little outbreaks, nothing of the magnitude of these other states, so we do look very well protected. And we hope that continues. But that does not mean that it has to continue, a new variant could arise, or immunity could continue to wane.
Dan: As people start thinking about holiday plans, what should our individual response be? Should we all continue to hold some responsibility to keep cases low?
Howard: There are things that families can do and that people can do over the holidays or as it gets cooler, that can help them mitigate spread if it starts to take off. Vaccination is obviously one of the biggest ones. Situational masking, you don't have to wear masks all the time, but if you're talking to somebody face to face, or if you're in a crowded room, put the mask on for that time. And then testing can be very useful, asymptomatic testing. If you're able to find and afford rapid tests at a store near you or online, get them and use them so that you can allow your household had that extra degree of freedom of knowing that everybody that's surrounding you is not at the moment, spreading infectious particles.
Dan: Bottom line, at this point, when it comes to the virus, does this upcoming winter look better than the last?
Howard: Absolutely. Look, we have a strong vaccination program that even as immunity is waning, we are still not seeing a significant number of hospitalizations or deaths among the vaccinated. That of course could change but it's not changed yet. You look at Connecticut right now, we look very good. But we do have to be careful. We have to pay attention to the data. And we have to continue to be resilient.