By Paul Hughes, Republican-American
SOUTHINGTON — All Connecticut counties have now reached the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended threshold for wearing masks indoors due to substantial levels of COVID-19 transmission.
Community spread in Litchfield County met the seven-day CDC baseline Tuesday for having vaccinated people return to wearing masks in indoor settings. State health officials also reported the daily COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates increased again.
Meanwhile, Gov. Ned Lamont continued to say Tuesday he is not planning to reinstate a statewide mask mandate. The governor lifted most of the remaining coronavirus-related restrictions May 19, including ending the indoor mask mandate for people who are fully vaccinated.
Lamont said he remains inclined to leave decisions on masking and vaccination requirements to private businesses and local governments.
“I think, for example, our restaurants have done a really good job,” Lamont said following a factory tour in Southington. “They have been incredibly careful. Nobody wants to make sure their customers feel confident and safe more than the restaurant owners. So, I’m leaving the discretion up to them.”
The CDC released updated guidelines last Tuesday that recommended universal masking indoors regardless of vaccination status in parts of the U.S. with 50 or more new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the previous seven days.
The following day, Hartford and New London counties exceeded the seven-day threshold, and New Haven County followed Thursday. Then, Fairfield, Tolland and Windham counties met the revised standard the next day, and Middlesex County did Sunday.
Lamont noted Tuesday all eight counties have reached the CDC’s “substantial” level for community spread. High transmission is classified as places with 100 or more cases per 100,000 population.
The governor left open the possibility of taking state action if community spread meets the CDC’s high transmission standard.
“I think right now none of our counties are in that particular category,” Lamont said. “If I saw everybody moving to the riskiest category defined by the CDC, I’d say what we are doing is not working. We’d have to make some changes.”
State health officials reported 277 new cases of COVID-19. The daily positive test rate based on 11,523 newly reported test results was nearly 2.5%. There now have been 356,164 cases reported since March 2020.
There also was a net increase of 17 hospitalized patients for a total of 165 statewide, including 55 in New Haven County, 42 in Hartford County, 40 in Fairfield County and two in Litchfield County.
There have been 8,293 deaths attributed to COVID-19 or complications from the disease. The death count is updated weekly every Thursday.
There have been 3,624 COVID-19 cases in Naugatuck, 966 in Prospect and 587 in Beacon Falls since last March, according to health officials. There have been 93 coronavirus-associated deaths in Naugatuck, six in Beacon Falls and five in Prospect.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.