HARTFORD, Conn. — The state Department of Public Health has reinforced new guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based on a rising COVID-19 infection rate in Connecticut.
It is being driven by a much more contagious, but much less severe COVID-19 subvariant of the Omicron variant.
“Our positivity certainly has been rising,” said Dr. Manisha Juthani, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
So with COVID rates high, is it time to bring back masks?
“If you are in a setting where there’s a lot of people around it will be ideal to wear a mask because that will help decrease the transmission,” said Waldemar Rasario of West Hartford. "But I think that’s going to mean a lot of resistance from the population."
This is why Connecticut communities, like East Hartford, won’t be going back to mandates.
“We're not going to reinstitute masking because the people that will wear it already are,” remarked Mayor Mike Walsh. "The people who won’t mask won’t mask even if I ask them to. So it’s almost an act of futility."
The rolling 7-day positivity rate is now 11.2% and all eight counties are either medium or high risk.
“For the three counties in the high threshold, we are recommending masking indoors,” said Juthani.
But again, it’s a recommendation.
“I think that we are really beyond mandates at this point. I think we have all the tools including outpatient treatments available to us," Juthani said. "For us to really get to the point of even considering a mandate, that would require legislative action, declaration of another public health emergency. We are not at that stage."
With only about 130,000 residents getting their second booster shot, some say mandates are the only way to effectively control the disease.
“Yes, I think that’s the only way people are going to wear it,” said Maria MacDonald of Hartford. “Even if you’ve been boosters and taking your shots I think we should still be wearing it, especially indoors.”
Perhaps the most important COVID metric, hospitalizations, remains low at 233 despite the widespread transmission
“Even though our hospitalizations are only in the 200s, given the number of cases, is it possible that over the next couple of weeks that number will go up? It certainly is possible,” said Juthani.
The bottom line from the state health department is you have the tools to manage COVID. Social distancing, masks, vaccines, treatments, and test kits. The state is encouraging you to use them.
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