New London County was added to the Centers for Disease Control list of places with “high transmission” of COVID-19. The county joins Hartford and New Haven Counties, which were added late last week.
The highest transmission category means there are 100 or more cases per 100,000 people, or a positivity rate of 10% or higher over the last seven days.
Connecticut’s five other counties have “substantial transmission,” as defined by the CDC.
The state’s overall positivity rate came in at 2.84% Tuesday, with 275 new cases identified out of 9,637 tests reported. There are 219 people currently hospitalized with the virus.
The state Department of Public Health is strongly recommending that all Connecticut residents over the age of 2 wear a mask while using indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. They also advise that high-risk individuals should avoid large indoor gatherings that may include a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
“So-called ‘vaccine breakthrough’ cases have occurred in Connecticut, but they remain rare, and the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths in Connecticut and around the country are in unvaccinated individuals,” the DPH said in a press release.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker mandated masks for all indoor spaces for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals earlier this week, and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin issued a similar mandate today.
“After all that we’ve gone through the last 18 months, a mask indoors is not particularly burdensome,” Bronin said at an afternoon press conference. “And I don’t think that it will slow our recovery. I think it actually helps to make sure our recovery can continue.”
He said now is a good time to do this before school starts in the next few weeks. Hartford Superintendent of Schools Leslie Torres Rodriguez also outlined a plan for the school year.
Like last year, everyone in school, students and staff, will be required to wear masks, she said.
“The time to take action to slow the spread is before it becomes obvious that action is unavoidable,” Bronin said.
He said wearing masks is not a heavy lift.
“Look, masks are a slight inconvenience, but we know that they help to slow the spread. And the delta variant is out in our community. It is highly transmissible,” Bronin said.
He said there’s no restrictions on the size of gatherings or other capacity limits. It’s simply a mask mandate for indoor spaces.
Last week, Gov. Ned Lamont gave local officials the authority to implement a mask mandate at the local level.
Bronin said the number of daily cases in Hartford has gone up “four-fold” over the last month.
“That means we’re seeing about 20 a day. That’s still quite a bit lower than the most severe periods of this pandemic. But one of the things we have seen in this pandemic is the time to take action to slow the spread is before it becomes obvious that action is unavoidable,” Bronin said.
The fine for not wearing a mask will be $100. However, Bronin said they’re not looking to “take aggressive enforcement action.”
The state of Connecticut is requiring unvaccinated people to wear masks while in indoor public places. But it does not have a statewide mandate at this point.
Everyone must wear masks regardless of vaccination status while inside certain settings, such as healthcare facilities, facilities housing vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools, and childcare.