New Haven county has become the third region in Connecticut to be classified as having "significant" COVID-19 transmission, meaning it has reached the level at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wears a mask indoors.
Hartford and New London counties reached that threshold on Wednesday, according to the CDC's COVID Data Tracker.
The CDC guidance, which recommends people wear masks indoors in areas where infection rates are classified as "significant" or "high," is not a mandate and it leaves policy decisions up to the state and local level. At present, there is no mask mandate in the state, but the Connecticut Department of Health released a statement Thursday strongly recommending that people who live in, work in, or visit Hartford, New London or New Haven counties follow the CDC guidance.
The state's positivity rate came in at 2.35% Thursday, down from 2.96% the day before. There were 14,401 new tests reported, with 339 new cases. There are 112 people hospitalized with the virus, a net increase of nine from the day before.
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The state is reporting COVID-19 related deaths once a week, on Thursday. To date there are 8,293 deaths reported in Connecticut, an increase of seven from last week.
State officials are urging the public to get vaccinated, warning that the delta variant continues to spread and COVID-19 metrics are trending upward.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said they are recommending that everyone wear masks indoors in public settings. City hall and municipal buildings have continued the mask mandate all along. Private institutions have the authority to make their own policies.
"Our city lawyers have read the governor's order as not allowing us to implement a mandate citywide so because we don't have that authority, we're mandating within city hall and also strongly encouraging any private establishment or folks that are indoors in a group setting to wear masks," Elicker said.
The city continues its vaccination efforts and said there are opportunities to get a shot every day.
"I think we all feel the frustration but new haven overwhelming is doing the right thing. and we have done so throughout the pandemic. We've followed the science, we've followed the guidance and even though people may be tired of wearing their masks, pull them out again, put them back on it's the right thing to do," Elicker said.
Connecticut continues to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.