Governor Lamont urges ‘common sense’, not mask mandates

Connecticut

GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut COVID-19 positivity rate is above 2% as of Tuesday, and hospitalizations are at 165, but Governor Ned Lamont is still taking a wait-and-see approach on any mandates.

The governor did issue a universal executive order on masking during the height of the pandemic. You do still have to wear a mask on public transportation, when in a health facility and also in schools. That order will stay live through Sept. 30.

At issue is what will happen after that. At an event in Southington Tuesday, Gov. Lamont suggested he will have the legislature weigh in, not only on masking in schools but on whether or not state employees will be required to get the COVID shot.

“I think the legislature’s going to want to come in and I’d like to work with them in terms of what we do after Sept. 30 and get their point of view on masks in schools, vaccinations for state employees,” Gov. Lamont said. “I don’t have to make all these decisions by myself. I’ll take some help.”

The legislature could vote to make mask-wearing in school a law or they could allow the emergency powers to be extended again, giving Gov. Lamont the job of deciding these controversial issues.

In the meantime, masks are required in schools. Waterbury Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin told News 8 her schools will open with masks on.

“We know that when we return on Aug. 30 with our students that the same mask guidance that we were operating under last year, that’s how we open schools. Masks are required. We’re going to wear them in the classroom,” Dr. Ruffin said.

Lamont is speaking with the state unions to figure out what happens with vaccines, masks and testing.

There are many forward-facing employees he is concerned about, including those in the Department of Corrections and those involved with social services. Those conversations will be ongoing.

RELATED: CT Dept. of Public Health ‘strongly recommends’ residents over the age of 2 wear masks indoors

News 8 caught up with the Sadowskis on Monday in Groton. They are visiting Connecticut, with masks on.

Andy Sadowski is visiting from New Jersey and said, “I think it’s been pretty good. We’ve been wearing masks and being careful when no one‘s around we will take the mask off. I will have a good time, but it’s not bad.”

He’s vaccinated but takes precautions. Especially at the Navy sub-museum.

“In crowded situations, I’ll mask up. Down in the submarine, we were masking up because of the confined spaces to be on the safe side,” added Sadowski.

As the delta COVID variant spreads around Connecticut, mask-wearing in any indoor space is “strongly recommended.”

RELATED: Masks required once again for everyone at Capitol campus in Hartford

At the sub-base the Department of Defense requires it. When told the requirement at the museum, visitor Elizabeth Johnson said she isn’t phased.

“Not in the least. We are vaccinated. I’m vaccinated; it’s not a problem at all. When were inside happy to do so. I prefer it,” said Elizabeth Johnson.

Governor Ned Lamont at an earlier event Monday said 75% of the state population is vaccinated.

“I think we are in a very different place today than we were eight months ago,” announced Governor Lamont.

He still cautions things could change. Right now, he’s not mandating travel restrictions, or business mandates, and doesn’t think the vaccine incentives work.

“I’ll be blunt – these incentives sound really good – hey a million dollars, hey a lottery ticket. I get to sit front row at the hip hop concert…it’s not making that big a difference,” admitted Lamont.

RELATED: CT’s first winners of COVID-19 vaccine incentive program announced; prizes include $1k, Six Flags season tickets

What is making a difference? The fear of catching the delta variant and another potential shut down.

Dr. Diedre Gifford, the acting commissioner of the State Department of Public Health said, “We still have a few hundred thousand people left to be vaccinated mostly under the age of 35 and so we’re starting to see them come in and get vaccinated.”

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