delta variant

‘It's a Risky Time If You're Unvaccinated': CT Leaders Urge Indoor Masks and COVID Vaccine as Cases Climb

Governor Ned Lamont said he is not considering reinstate a statewide mask mandate as the Delta variant fuels a rise in COVID case numbers.

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The COVID-19 positivity rate in Connecticut reached over 3% Monday, up from 2.72% on Friday.

According to the CT Department of Public Health, the Delta variant is fueling a rise in case numbers in the state. Cases are being traced, statewide, to social gatherings. The DPH is advises that if people are planning on hosting a gathering, outside is the safest option.

Strong Recommendation for Indoor Masking

Due to a rapid increase in cases of COVID-19, the state DPH "strongly recommends" that anyone over the age of 2 wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.

Acting Public Health Commissioner for Connecticut Deidre Gifford said the state made the decision to recommend indoor masking for everyone, regardless of vaccination status, after learning new information about the Delta variant. According to a federal report, vaccinated people who get infected with the variant may spread the virus at a similar rate as an unvaccinated person.

“They are carrying a lot of virus and so we are making the assumption that they would be able to transmit it," said Gifford.

An internal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention slide presentation argues that “the war has changed” against COVID-19.

However, the commissioner stressed that it is rare for a vaccinated person to become infected. If you are vaccinated, you are less likely to get the virus.

“You are less likely to get infected, you are less likely to get sick for sure and you are less likely to be hospitalized or to die," said Gifford. "It's a risky time if you're unvaccinated."

Governor Not Planning on Bringing Back Mask Mandate or More Restrictions

Governor Ned Lamont said Monday that he is not planning on bringing back a statewide mask mandate.

He said that he will leave it up to businesses and municipalities to decide if they would like to require a mask or not.

"Business owners and restaurant owners are in a good position to say maybe some will be vaccine only some will say I would like to see if you have been tested, some may say otherwise," said Lamont. "I think we are going to keep going with that process a little longer unless the world changes under our feet."

Lamont said he is not considering bringing back any other restrictions at this point. There are no plans for any state travel advisories right now either. He cited the state's vaccination rate.

Doctors are raising new concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

“75% of our adults are vaccinated. We have 90% of those who are most at risk, those are the folks over the age of 60 to 65, who are now vaccinated," said Lamont. “I think we are in a very different place than we were eight months ago.”

Vaccine Mandates in CT

Following decisions from other states and large corporations to mandate a COVID-19 vaccine for their workers, Lamont said his offices have not yet decided if Connecticut will follow suit.

"We are going to take a look at that, that or a mask and testing," said Lamont. "There are different variables that we are going to figure out over the next week or two."

Lamont said there are still certain departments in the state where the vaccination rate of employees is lagging behind.

"It's not needed if everybody would just voluntarily go get vaccinated," he said.

Back to School with COVID-19 in Connecticut

The governor's office is still waiting to issue guidance on masks in schools for the 2021-22 school year.

“We are in early August. School starts in late August and I have always tried to give people a couple of weeks’ notice so people can plan accordingly," said Lamont. "You will have a couple weeks’ notice.”

The Department of Education has communicated other safety guidance to schools in regards to distancing and cohorting.

The CT DPH is also working to use federal funding to offer routine COVID testing to elementary schools where students may not be old enough to get vaccinated.

The Delta variant, at this point, has not impacted plans for in-person learning for the school year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update their mask guidelines on Tuesday, July 27, in light of surges of hyper-contagious delta variant. The CDC now recommends both unvaccinated and vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in public settings.

“We are going to have a safe, but full reopening of schools in the fall," said Gifford.

Booster Shots?

The governor said that his office has spoke with federal government officials about the potential of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

"They are moving closer, I think, towards boosters starting with folks who are immunocompromised or maybe have some greater risk or those that had their vaccine some while ago. I will be waiting for their lead," said Lamont.

Gifford said that if boosters are recommended, she does not foresee supply being an issue like when the vaccine was first rolled out to the general public.

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