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Lamont simplifies travel advisory, allows cities and towns to fine for large gatherings

Lamont also indicated that high school football should be played in the spring

HARTFORD, Conn — Gov. Ned Lamont indicated Monday that he felt delaying high school football until the spring was the safest course of action. 

Lamont spoke from the State Capitol.

He also said the state would allow cities and towns to fine places of business and individuals if they gathered in larger groups than allowed by executive order. 

The fines would be $100 for violating the mask order; $500 for organizing events that exceed size limits (25 people inside and 100 people outside); $250 for attending an event that exceeds size limit. 

The fines can be issued by law enforcement, local elected officials and local public health officials. They would go into effect later this week. 

The governor said despite a recent small uptick in the state's overall positivity rate, he felt the state was "in a pretty good place."

He said the rates at schools and universities was lower than the general population. He felt that there was no need for state mandates about local school systems actions after a case of COVID-19 was reported and it was best to give the systems individual latitude to respond.

A number of schools across Connecticut have closed their buildings or sections of them as COVID-19 cases begin popping up among staff and students. 

Those closed Monday include East Hartford, Killingly, Westbrook and West Haven high schools; Bridgeport’s Tisdale School; and the Dag Hammarskjold Middle School in Wallingford.  

The Chase Elementary School in Waterbury remains open, but students in a specific classroom have been ordered into quarantine after a classmate tested positive. All of those schools have said they will conduct deep cleaning during the closures to help prevent the spread of the virus. 

Lora Rae Anderson, the Spokesperson for COO Josh Geballe said the state has appointed a new temporary administrator to run the day-to-day and make all medical decisions at Three Rivers nursing home in Norwich. A news release is forthcoming. Three Rivers was the subject of a deficiency report and investigation after infection control failures resulted in an outbreak that resulted in the death of a resident. The outbreak also subsequently spread to staff at Backus hospital. The state found there was not proper cohorting, quarantining or use of PPE. A nurse who tested positive also came to work sick following a trip out of state.

The governor also said the state was simplifying the rules for people covered by the travel advisory. They could avoid the 14 day quarantine period if they had a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel. 

Lamont also said he would prefer to see High school football be delayed until the spring in order to stay safe. 

In a letter to the CIAC, the Department of Public Health said:

CIAC has also included in the most recent document shared with DPH several new measures to be implemented for football, and we agree that most of those strategies also align well with the generally accepted public health recommendations for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, you propose the use of plastic shields that attach to the helmet or a cloth covering over the front grill portion of the helmet for football as further strategies designed to reduce the risk categorization for football. In their guidance to their membership, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sports Medicine Advisory Committee has indicated that individual sports meeting their definition of “higher risk” could be considered “moderate risk” by having “protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants”. To our knowledge, and as affirmed by representatives of the CIAC Sports Medicine Committee on our September 11th call, there is currently no scientific information available to determine: (1) the effectiveness of plastic shields that attach to the helmet or a cloth covering over the front grill portion of the helmet in preventing the spread of respiratory droplets among players and (2) that these specific prevention measures are safe for high school players to use during play. Without any additional data or documentation, DPH could not definitively say whether or not these technologies are safe to use or could be expected to work effectively from an infection control or epidemiologic perspective to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Nor could we assert that they would change the categorization of full contact football from “higher risk” to “moderate risk.”

DPH continues to recommend substituting athletic or any other activities that could be considered “moderate risk” or “lower risk” in place of “higher risk” ones and/or postponing those activities to a later time when other public health strategies may be more available and better studied. However, we would encourage CIAC to continue to work with your existing Sports Medicine Committee, in consultation with NFHS, to determine whether CIAC’s proposed mitigation strategies meet the standards set forth by NFHS to consider a reduced risk categorization for football or any other “higher risk” sport, as categorized by NFHS. Having more complete information, as well as affirmation from the CIAC Sports Medicine Committee and NFHS of their confidence in your proposed strategies, will likely be of great assistance to the CIAC Board of Control, individual school districts, and participant families in their decision-making process as to whether they feel that they can safely and responsibly engage in football and indoor volleyball activities this Fall, as well as other “higher risk” or indoor “moderate risk” sports going forward.