CONNECTICUT, USA — On Saturday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Middlesex County as having "substantial" community spread of COVID-19. Seven of Connecticut's eight counties are now under that designation, which comes with recommendations for mask-wearing and other precautions.
Only Litchfield county remains listed with a "moderate" spread. Hartford and New London counties were listed on Wednesday. New Haven was added Thursday afternoon. Fairfield, Tolland, and Windham were added on Friday.
But on Sunday, the Department of Public Health issued a 'health alert' recommending that everyone in the state, in any county, wear a mask when inside a public building, regardless of vaccination status.
A DPH spokesperson noted that masking was a recommendation, not a requirement or mandate.
"Given the rapid increases in cases of COVID-19 in Connecticut over the last 14 days due to the spread of the Delta variant, the Connecticut Department of Public Health is strongly recommending that ALL CONNECTICUT residents over aged two years, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, return to wearing masks when in indoor public spaces" read a message from DPH.
The CDC classifies substantial transmission as 50 to 99.99 total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days. Moderate transmission is anywhere from 10 to 49.99 cases per 100,000 persons.
"Keeping our schools open is really important, what that means to spouses, what that means to parents, what that means to single parents, and our schools are going to open safely this fall just like they did last fall," said Governor Ned Lamont Monday. It's the first time he's spoken about the CDC guidance since returning from vacation.
Juan Salazar, Pediatric Infections Disease Specialist, CCMC, said, “The virus doesn’t care if you’re fed up, the virus is going to do what the virus is going to do, so our guidelines need to adjust to how the virus changes”
He said, “It’s a vicious circle that we have to try to close as much as we can. The key to fixing the problem is vaccinating more people. I’m optimistic that we’ll have a vaccine for children, certainly for kids over the age of 5, sometime in the Fall, maybe the early Winter”
“What I would say to a parent would be once we get back into school, the dynamics change," Salazar said. "You’re going to have kids that are not vaccinated in early September and October where the resurgence where the delta variant takes over with a higher percentage of people getting infected in Connecticut, and if kids are all together, obviously we need to do additional things”
Dr. Syed Hussain Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, said, “The Delta variant is highly transmissible, which means it’s more contagious than anything we’ve ever seen. That’s why we need to use all the tools in our toolbox”
Connecticut has seen in the last weeks an uptick in positivity rate, cases, and hospitalizations due to the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant. As of Wednesday, there are now 103 patients being treated for COVID-19.
As of July 23, 2,142,821 residents in Connecticut are now fully vaccinated. New Haven County has about 61.4% of its resident fully vaccinated. Fairfield has 64.4% of its residents fully vaccinated. Tolland has 56.1% of its residents fully vaccinated. Windham has 51.2% of its residents fully vaccinated.
Lamont has not reissued mask mandates for Connecticut businesses in these counties. However, Lamont has discussed potential travel restrictions and new guidance in the coming days.
"I know there’s a hesitancy here, I know our infection rate – you know we are up a little bit by 3% – still the best in the country but we are watching this carefully," Lamont said.
Connecticut will follow the CDC recommendations in regards to schools with teachers along with students and other staff should wear masks regardless of their vaccination status when their indoors.
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