All individuals are being asked to wear masks in indoor spaces.
By Ronni Newton
COVID-19 is spreading rapidly, particularly as the omicron variant becomes predominant, and individuals are being asked to wear masks indoors when they are near people who are not part of their household, West Hartford-Bloomfield Health Director Aimee Krauss said Thursday.
The Health District has issued a mask advisory, recommending that all individuals wear a mask or other face covering indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The advisory is intended to include private holiday gatherings as well as restaurants and other businesses.
“What we are seeing is spread in homes,” West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor told We-Ha.com. “This advisory is not just for businesses but is to apply to everywhere you are, especially if there is a vulnerable person involved.”
Where this is a recommendation and not a mandate at this time, the town manager is monitoring the data closely and is in close contact with the leadership team, Cantor said.
“We urge businesses to require masks as we did at Town Hall. We are seeing very high levels of compliance,” said Cantor.
While people who are fully vaccinated and boostered do not typically experience a life threatening situation when contracting COVID-19 not typically life-threatening, Cantor said it’s important that those who are vulnerable be extra cautious during this surge.
“COVID-19 cases are surging, and we often see spread between family and friends who let their guard down at holiday gatherings,” Krauss said in a statement Thursday. “Further, we are seeing an increase in breakthrough cases for vaccinated persons, which we believe is due to the spread of the omicron variant. The omicron variant is highly contagious, and it will cause an exponential rise in cases. For these reasons, we are recommending that everyone practice universal masking as cases continue to surge.”
West Hartford’s average daily case rate per 100,000 of population is now 39.6, according to data released by the state Thursday. The state’s report indicated 31 new cases among residents in the past day.
Statewide, the positivity rate on Thursday was 9.02%. There have been 75 deaths over the past week, and 837 people are hospitalized, an increase of 16. Of those in the hospital, 75.9% (635 patients) are not fully vaccinated.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s mandate that those who are unvaccinated wear masks in indoor settings remains in effect, and masks also remain mandatory for all in setting such as schools, transportation, and health care facilities.
“It is never too late to get vaccinated, and vaccine clinics are widely available at area drug stores and other clinics,” Kraiss said, emphasizing that it remains the best defense against COVID-19. “Although we are seeing an increase in breakthrough cases over time, vaccines still provide very good protection against severe illness and hospitalization.”
West Hartford Mayor Shari G. Cantor and Bloomfield Mayor Danielle Wong issued a joint statement Thursday in support of the Health District’s mask advisory:
“We know how difficult the past two years have been, and we are very cognizant of how exhausted everyone is of pandemic mitigation measures. We are thankful that so many people in our communities are taking this latest surge seriously, and the high level of voluntary compliance we are already seeing with mask wearing and social distancing. It is absolutely critical that during the holiday season we do everything we can to keep our friends, neighbors, and families safe.”
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