Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and Health District Director Donna Culbert have now been empowered by new executive order to begin masking duties, but have no plans to do so.

Both officials told Newtown bee just hours after Governor Ned Lamont issued his latest executive order on the matter, and state health officials set up headquarters in New Haven County as the first locality in the state to be hit. Reportedly “highly transmitted” as the COVID-19 delta variant continues to increase the state’s virus. positive rate.

Rosenthal told The Newtown Bee shortly after the local City Center opened on Friday, August 6.

“I appreciate Governor Lamont’s approach to looking at local dynamics with the virus as we move forward,” the first picker added. “Newtown has done a good job of vaccinating and I’m confident our residents and businesses will make the decision about wearing the mask that’s best for them.”

Culbert’s answer was equally succinct.

“We are now in a moment of choice and decision thinking,” the health district leader said as he prepared to participate in a virtual meeting of regional public health officials.

The Newtown Medical District serves Newtown, Bridgewater and Roxbury. And Culbert said she has yet to advise town leaders in any of the three jurisdictions to push for a face covering order.

“I am in regular contact with the CEOs of our three County member communities and we will continue to monitor [the situation] Culbert added.

“Of course, everything is liquid and I would advise everyone to be on the lookout for this virus as it has appeared unfortunately,” said Rosenthal.

Just after 7 p.m. Thursday, Lamont said he signed an executive order related to the COVID-19 emergency declaration (Executive Order No. 13A) giving city leaders the option to require face coverings. masks in indoor public places in their respective towns and cities of all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.

Leaders have choices

City leaders now have the option to go beyond the minimum requirements in the statewide mask policy implemented by Governor Lamont in May. The statewide policy, still in effect and unchanged, is as follows:

* Unvaccinated people must wear masks when in public places in the house;

* Everyone must wear a mask regardless of immunization status when in certain settings, such as healthcare facilities, facilities with vulnerable populations, public and private transport. individuals, correctional facilities, schools and childcare, by order of the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health;

* No mask required when outdoors;

* Individuals, regardless of their immunization status, must wear a mask indoors if required by order of the commissioner for special facilities or by a municipality;

* Businesses, private property owners, and local and state government offices may require people to wear masks inside their premises.

Lamont said he issued the order at the request of city leaders, who want to roll back the universal mask requirements that were implemented near the beginning of the pandemic. However, the governor doesn’t believe there’s a need for face masks statewide at this time, noting that there are many towns across Connecticut that have achieved exceptionally high vaccination rates.

“Connecticut has one of the highest immunization rates in the nation, and for that reason residents of our state must be welcomed,” the governor said in a statement. “That said, there are some states that are lagging behind others, and some leaders in those regions have asked for the option of requiring people to wear masks until they can. have higher vaccination rates. While I continue to recommend that everyone wear a mask when inside public places as recommended by the CDC, I urge everyone to get vaccinated as it is the best thing you can do to protect yourself. from this raging virus. “

In preparation for the upcoming school year, the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Connecticut Department of Education are in the process of reviewing and, if necessary, updating statewide policies requiring face coverings in schools. That updated policy will be issued prior to the start of the upcoming school year.

It should be noted, however, that until that policy is enacted, Lamont’s statewide mask policy and current orders in effect will continue to require people to wear masks while indoors. schools, regardless of their immunization status.

Executive Order 13A also changes the effective date of a new law passed this summer by the state legislature, requiring that the law go into effect immediately rather than on a previously scheduled date. is October 1, 2021. Section 6 of Public Act 21-185 authorizes the Connecticut Department of Public Health to require testing of nursing home workers and residents for communicable disease during an outbreak with a frequency determination set.

Pursuant to this newly enacted law, Dr. Deidre Gifford, who serves as the department’s acting commissioner, intends to require all unvaccinated nursing home workers statewide to be tested for COVID. -19 weekly.

The latest executive order was issued after the Centers for Disease Control designated New Haven County in the “Highly Transmissible” category of COVID-19. New Haven was the first county in the state to be upgraded to a High Transmission category — seven other Connecticut counties are still classified as “Significant Transmission” by the CDC.

The highly-transmissible category – which is the most severe as defined by the CDC – is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people or a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher in the past seven days. The type of significant transmission is 50 to 100 cases per 100,000, or an 8 to 10 percent positivity rate over the past seven days.

Recommended, not required

Given the continued rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in the state over the past 14 days due to the spread of the delta variant, the Connecticut Department of Public Health recommends that all Connecticut residents over the age of two, regardless of vaccinated or unvaccinated, revert to wearing a mask when in public indoor spaces.

Vaccinated and unvaccinated people are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19, including those with compromised immune systems, diabetes, asthma, other lung diseases, pregnancy, or obesity. , should also avoid large indoor gatherings that may include both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, the CDC said.

Vaccination remains the most important defense against illness and hospitalization from COVID-19. Cases of so-called “vaccine breakthroughs” have occurred in Connecticut, but they are still rare and the majority of hospitalizations and deaths in Connecticut and nationally are in unvaccinated people.

DPH strongly recommends that unvaccinated people get vaccinated as soon as possible to help prevent the ongoing spread of delta variant – the most contagious coronavirus mutation to date during the pandemic.

The delta variant is a highly contagious strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that was first identified in India last December, according to a recent report from Yale Medicine. It swept quickly through that country and the UK before reaching the US, where it is now the predominant variant.

The CDC has described delta as more contagious than the common cold and flu, as well as the viruses that cause smallpox, MERS, SARS, and Ebola – and called it as contagious as chickenpox in one year. internal documents, a copy of which is collected by and reported in New York Times.

The CDC says the highest rates of case transmission and severe outcomes are occurring in areas with low immunization rates, and virtually all hospitalizations and deaths are among people. not vaccinated. But the CDC released data in July showing that vaccinated people can also transmit Delta, something officials don’t believe is the case with other variants, and this makes the agency must quickly revise his masking instructions.

The researchers suspect that Delta is about 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, meaning that the average patient will infect an additional 50% of their contacts,” said Joanna Drowos, DO, MPH , MBA, vice president of the Department of Integrative Health Sciences, an associate professor of integrative health sciences, and a practicing physician at the Marcus Institute for Integrative Health at Atlantic University of Florida School of Medicine , of the Schmidt University School of Medicine.

Drowos added: “The alpha itself is 50% more contagious than previous versions of the virus. “Earlier in the outbreak, under certain conditions, an infected person could have passed it on to two or three people. Now, with the Delta variant, that number could be five to nine, leading to a larger amount of transmission from each infected person.

Editor John Voket can be reached at

Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal and Health District Director Donna Culbert are photographed wearing masks at Newtown’s first public transit through the COVID-19 testing site in May 2020. Two community leaders are delaying local mask-wearing orders or increasing restrictions for the time being, altough Governor Ned Lamont issued an order August 5 that gives municipalities the option to do so. —View file images


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