NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classified all eight Connecticut counties as areas with “substantial” COVID-19 community spread.
Substantial community transmission is classified by the CDC as 50-99 cumulative cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days.
That means people in Connecticut should wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) strongly recommended people who live, work, or visit towns located in Hartford, New Haven, New London, Fairfield, Tolland, Litchfield or Windham counties follow the recommendation.
Cities and towns are now putting precautions in place to better protect everyone.
“It’s my hope our efforts here will help us reverse the upward trend that’s taking place,” said Mayor Peter Nystrom of Norwich.
Starting on Monday, masks will be required in city-owned buildings in Norwich. If people don’t have a mask, Nystrom said they’ll be provided with one.
“We’re still asking people to stop at the temperature check station,” said Mayor Nystrom. “We have put those in all city-operated buildings across the city.”
In the City of New London, the same measure will be in place starting on Tuesday. At the entrance of each building, there will be a sign to remind everyone a mask is required. However, the mayor’s office said there’s an exception for those with a medical condition or those with a religious objection to wearing a mask. They must call ahead and make an appointment or prior arrangements for service.
“We really don’t have time to waste,” said State Senator Bob Duff, the Senate Majority Leader representing the 25th District.
Duff, a Democrat representing Norwalk and Darien, is hoping to take these precautions one step further. He’s calling for state and municipal workers, employees under state funding or contracts, and medical staff to be vaccinated or get tested twice a week.
“We have police officers, firefighters, state workers, others who are not vaccinated who are putting the public at risk by not being vaccinated,” said Senator Duff.
Medical experts News 8 spoke with said we all need to do our part.
“The things we are enjoying now — going out to eat, hanging out with friends — we are [in] danger of losing, if we don’t get vaccinated,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu, System Director of Infectious Diseases for Hartford HealthCare.
Dr. Wu said the only pathway out of the pandemic is by getting the shot. He’s also encouraging everyone to practice the safety measures we’ve grown accustomed to, which includes practicing good hand hygiene and social distancing.
In Hartford, at least 66 percent of the population has had at least one dose of the vaccine. In New London County, over 68 percent of people have had at least one shot of the vaccine. In New Haven County, 67% of the population has at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Tolland, County, 60% of people have had at least one dose of the vaccine. In Fairfield, 72.5% of the population has had their first shot. In Windham County, 55.6% of people have had their first COVID-19. In Litchfield, 68.6% of residents have at least one dose.
The CDC COVID Data Tracker shows the other state counties listed under “moderate” transmission, which is classified as 10-49 cumulative cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days.
“There’s no question about it that masking is incredibly effective when it comes to our kids and those who are unvaccinated,” Gov. Lamont said, “But I don’t want to take our eye off the ball, we’re doing all we can to get more people vaccinated.”
News 8’s Shaynah Ferreira sat down with New Haven’s top health official Thursday who says the new highlight on New Haven County, in particular, is not surprising.
New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond says just this past Monday she reported cases of COVID doubling in the Elm City within a week. Adding, this delta variant and the new spotlight from the CDC should be a reminder that the pandemic is far from over.
“This variant is very prominent in our state and in our country and it’s multiplying each day,” she said.
She emphasizes that COVID precautions need to be taken seriously in light of the delta variant running rampant nationwide.
“One of the recommendations the CDC issued just yesterday was regardless of vaccination, start wearing masks even indoors. So we want to encourage residents to really adhere to that,” Dir. Bond urged.
The state’s overall COVID-19 positivity rate jumped to nearly three percent Wednesday.
Local health officials in New Haven say they are in active talks with the State Department of Health to focus on messaging about testing and COVID vaccinations. Dir. Bond says the delta variant is highly contagious and should be taken seriously.
“We have to be vigilant; we have to be cautious because we know this delta variant is highly transmissible and contagious and so we have to put our guard up, protect ourselves and others.”
Bond says it’s especially important for those who can’t get vaccinated, stressing personal and civic responsibility when it comes to masking up, social distancing, executing proper hand hygiene as a way to stay safe.
“We just do not know right now the high transmission rate, we don’t know how many people are actually vaccinated when we are socializing and interacting in our recreational activities, so we need to be vigilant… We’re working closely with the department of public health and the governor’s office making sure we have unified messaging as well as consideration of any policies in the near future, so we are definitely working together in having ongoing conversations in terms of what this will look like.”
Bond says if people travel to high transmission cities or states it’s recommended that you get tested three to five days after your trip and monitor for any symptoms. And if you can, get vaccinated.
The CDC also suggested that all people in school settings should mask up regardless of vaccination status. Meanwhile, the Governor’s office said it is still reviewing the policy and has yet to announce whether Connecticut will follow the agency’s guidance. An announcement is expected soon.
You can view all of this information and more data from the CDC here.