How the CDC’s reversal on mask guidance will impact CT and upcoming school year

Connecticut

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reversed course on some mask guidelines, as COVID cases and the spread of the Delta variant increases nationwide.

The CDC said Tuesday that fully vaccinated Americans living in areas considered “substantial and high” in transmission should wear masks in indoor public spaces. Nearly two-thirds of the country falls into those levels of community transmission. Connecticut is currently at a moderate level. The CDC has an interactive map with more details.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont noted that two counties, Hartford and New London, are close to the CDC’s threshold for indoor masks, the Associated Press reported.

The CDC is also calling for masks in schools for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. Governor Lamont weighed in saying that our state will probably continue to follow the agency’s lead on in-school learning this fall for all kids K-12 regardless of vaccination status.

Governor Lamont also said that will apply to teachers and school staff members.

RELATED: CDC backpedals on some masking guidelines, calls for nearly 2/3 of US counties to mask-up indoors

“I think I’m moving towards guidance and I think I’d probably tend to track what the CDC has recommended,” said Governor Lamont Tuesday following the CDC’s announcement.

Updates are expected from the governor in the coming days on mask-wearing.

As far as mandating indoor mask-wearing, the governor says he is in favor of allowing towns, businesses, and schools to decide their own standards.

“You’ve got a lot of concert venues, you’ve got some restaurants they want to see your ID, make sure that people have been vaccinated. I think they know their communities the best so absolutely they have that discretion for even stricter rules if they think it’s appropriate,” said Lamont.

Kate Dias, the president of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the largest educators union in the state, told News 8 Tuesday, “For me, it really is about risk analysis.”

Despite “Unmask Our Kids” rallies, – the most recent one only a few weeks ago outside the Governor’s Mansion – Dias believes a masking policy for all students is the best course of action. Especially for the most vulnerable students.

“I’m really mindful that if our priority is truly keeping kids in the classroom available for instruction we have to put a priority on masking,” she explained.

New Haven’s Public Health Director Maritza Bond added, “The fact that my cases doubled from one week to the next was an alarm for me.”

Dir. Bond says New Haven is not a hot spot right now with a 3.9% positivity rate but continues to implore folks to get the vaccine and she has another message, too: “Those of you who are not vaccinated should not be running around the city of New Haven without a mask on. You should be taking responsibility mask up and protect others.” To try and prevent New Haven from becoming a hot spot.

The CDC announced Tuesday afternoon that the delta variant is proving to be so contagious that some fully vaccinated people are contracting it and spreading it. The agency calling this ‘worrisome.’

Even though Connecticut is 70% vaccinated, some doctors are watching the situation carefully.

“Healthcare professionals like myself we were vaccinated more than six months ago and it’s a concern for us since we work in the hospital system and we’re likely to be exposed if somebody does come in with COVID,” says Yale Medicine’s Dr. Sharon Stoll.

Connecticut does have some areas with low vaccination rates. Dr. Stoll points out an important bigger picture issue.

“The chance of spread and more worrisome the change of mutation to a strain that is not protected by the vaccine. That’s the big concern,” says Dr. Stoll.

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