Tale of Two Cities: Hartford and East Hartford release COVID mask rules amid spike in cases

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Mayor Luke Bronin is looking COVID in the eye all over again.

“We all want to be done with this pandemic but it is not done with us yet,” added Mayor Bronin.

His city is struggling with less than half of the community vaccinated.

As the Delta variant is sweeping the state, Hartford is in the “Red” category – High community transmission – with 177 cases, a rate of 16 per 100,000 people infected.

Bronin is weighing a local mask mandate for both city buildings and private industry.

“We are actively considering a citywide mandate. [In the] meantime, we are requiring masks in all city-wide facilities for our workforce as well as for the public,” Mayor Bronin said.

Adding to the stress, corporations like Travelers are delaying employees returning to work in their downtown skyscrapers.

“It’s clear some of the companies are going to be taking a wait-and-see approach as we all deal with this Delta variant,” Mayor Bronin said.

Over in East Hartford, Mayor Marcia LeClerc mandated masks inside municipal buildings three weeks ago. She is not mandating private businesses do the same.

“At this point, we are not supportive of that. I do believe if we can not manage it or implement the corrective actions necessary, the only thing we can do is put forth guidance,” said Mayor LeClerc.

The City of East Hartford is in the “Orange” category – Substantial community transmission – with 54 cases, a rate of 13 per 100,000 people infected.

Employees are required to show proof of vaccination. Otherwise, there is weekly testing.

The city is also reaching out to the younger hesitant population with the help of the United Way.

Mayor LeClerc says they have been doing pop-up vaccination clinics at the corner convenience store.

“If we are only capturing 10 at a time, 30 at a time, or even five at a time… we are doing that to make sure the vaccinations get into the arms of our residents. Encouraging them to go to a health care provider to get correct and scientific information that will ease their misconceptions and allow them to get the vaccine,” Mayor LeClerc said.

Statewide schools are required to mask up through Sept. 30.

What happens next remains up in the air until Governor Ned Lamont and lawmakers decide which direction to go.

There are ongoing negotiations in several school districts around the state with the teacher’s unions to figure out their course of action for the school year.

At issue: whether teachers will be subjected to weekly testing if they are not vaccinated and whether or not districts will mandate vaccination.

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