Gov. Lamont insists mask mandates not returning, even as COVID cases creep up

Gov. Ned Lamont insists he will not seek another statewide mask mandate, despite gradually rising COVID cases due to two highly contagious new sub-variants. Instead, the governor is urging people to get vaccinated and boosted.
On Monday, Lamont visited a vaccination clinic at the Borroughs-Saden Public Library in Bridgeport. Lamont is particularly concerned about the low 4% vaccination rate for children under 5 years old, who became eligible a month ago.
"A lot of parents have a wait-and-see attitude,” said Lamont. “I wouldn't wait much longer."
State leaders are worried about the new Omicron B.A 4 and B.A 5 sub-variants. Both are highly resistant to the current vaccine, although preliminary evidence indicates vaccines prevent serious illness.
BA.4 and BA.5 now make up 80% of all cases in Connecticut. Although hospitalizations remain low, the Department of Public Health commissioner warned, if that changes, she could recommend indoor masking again.

"It may very well could be that with the BA.4 and 5, we will see a rise enough where we are recommending masking indoor places in counties that are [CDC rated] orange,” said DPH commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani. “We are not there yet.”

Health officials stressed the move would only be a recommendation. Lamont said he will not seek a statewide mandate for restaurants or schools.
"I just don't see that happening,” said Lamont. “We certainly left it up to local communities. I thought that was appropriate. I think that parents and their children know how to keep themselves safe."
The statewide school mask requirement ended on Feb 28, although local school districts can still order them. As of June 30, state leaders lost the authority to issue a new statewide mandate. The governor cannot order one either. Although Lamont recently extended the state’s COVID emergency, he can no longer issue new executive orders.
Despite the urgent calls from state leaders, some people are still on the fence. Charles Kendrick of Bridgeport already got one booster, but he’s debating whether to get a second one.

"I'm going to wait and talk to my doctor -- my primary doctor at the VA,” he said. "I'm kind of skeptical, but I think I want to take, after talking to a lot of people, I think I want to take another booster shot."

If you want to get vaccinated or boosted, DPH “yellow vans” are holding free clinics across Connecticut. Click here to sign up.