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In Windham County, many aren't worried despite low COVID vaccination rate and 'substantial spread'

“I don’t fear the pandemic. I’ve had my shots," said one resident. "I just keep moving.”

WINDHAM, Conn — Locals and visitors came out to Willimantic’s Shaboo Stage for the Freedom Fest Concert to enjoy rock and folk music and also honor veterans. “We have all missed this over the last year. It’s definitely needed and it lifts the spirit and the soul,” Windham Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Diane Nadeau said.

While live music and concerts are back on in Connecticut this summer, things aren’t 100 percent back to normal. Windham County is listed under the ‘substantial’ category for COVID community spread as cases are on the rise. Health officials are also warning the more contagious delta variant poses a danger to the unvaccinated.

Windham has the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 51 percent fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC. Middlesex County, which the CDC added to the 'substantial spread' category on Saturday, leads the state at 70% full vaccinated. 

“When it comes to eastern Connecticut in general and Windham specifically, we’re a little behind the state numbers on vaccinations,” Windham Director of Economic and Community Development Jim Bellano said.

Bellano said there’s a mix of reasons unvaccinated residents are hesitant to get the shot.

“It’s a mix between kind of the folks that are skeptical for some reason, don’t trust the information and those that are just kind of ‘I’m not going to get vaccinated period.’ Puzzling, but it’s the situation we’re in,” he said.

For most, the masks have come off, but some are staying cautious.

“I don’t know if you’ve been vaccinated or not and I choose not to take a chance. I’ve been lucky when before the vaccinations I didn’t get sick and so I just want to keep it that way,” Katherine Paulhaus said.

But most people FOX61 spoke with are ready to turn the corner.

“I don’t fear the pandemic. I’ve had my shots. I just keep moving but this is fantastic because we’re starting to get people out,” Roger Vertefeuille said.

With the Delta variant and COVID cases on the rise, town officials are encouraging locals to get vaccinated.