HARTFORD - Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday that he's not ready to lift the state's mandate requiring face masks in schools for the upcoming school year, saying he wants to hear more from federal health officials given the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The Democrat said his administration is still “having conversations” with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is awaiting new guidance that's expected in a couple weeks.
“Up until a couple of weeks ago, you thought, ‘OK, we should be out of the woods by September,’” Lamont told reporters. “But now you see the delta variant and you see what's going on in Australia, you see what's going on in Israel, you see what's going on in Britain, not to mention Arkansas and L.A. So we’re going to have to make up our minds on that a little bit later.”
As of last Thursday, there were 43 identified cases in Connecticut of the delta variant, which was first found in India.
The issue of children being required to wear facemasks has been a contentious one among some Connecticut parents who've raised constitutional and health concerns about the mandate. A judge in May, however, upheld Lamont's emergency order requiring masks for the most recent school year. The ruling did not address any guidance on masks that may be issued for the upcoming school year. Meanwhile, a group called Unmask Our Kids CT has been holding rallies, demanding the requirement finally be lifted.
On Tuesday, Lamont continued to stress the importance of people getting vaccinated, noting the rise in the delta variant should inspire more to get the shot. While roughly 80% of adults have received at least one dose in Connecticut, Lamont noted there are still pockets of people who haven't gotten inoculated that the state continues to target.
“We're taking the mobile vans there, we're knocking on doors, we’re doing everything we can to make it easier,” he said. “We're doing house calls now, door-to-door.”
As of last Thursday, 95% of those over the age of 65 had received at least one dose; 85% of those between 55-64; 74% of those between 45-54; 69% of those between 35-44; 60% of those between 25-34; 56% of those between 18-24; 63% of those between 16-17; and 44% of those between 12-15.