Moments ago, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe announced:
As a regional response to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday (August 23), the towns of Westport, Fairfield and Easton have issued temporary town-wide mask mandates. Neighboring cities of Norwalk, Stamford, and Bridgeport currently have mask mandates in place.
Yesterday, Fairfield County was the 5th county in Connecticut to be moved into the “high transmission” category – the most severe level as defined by the CDC. Hospitalizations in Fairfield County are on the rise. The rise in case levels in Westport for the past 2 weeks will likely place the town into the “substantial transmission” or “red” category this week.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health strongly recommends that all residents over the age of 2 years, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, wear masks when in indoor public spaces. The Governor’s Executive Order No. 13A provides municipal leaders with the option of requiring masks in indoor public places within their respective towns and cities for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Indoor public spaces include retail establishments, restaurants, gyms, workout studios or other businesses, as well as galleries, museums, performance spaces, places of worship and government buildings. Businesses may still require proof of vaccination to enter, but a mask will also be required.
Westport Weston Health District director of health Mark Cooper said, “The COVID- 19 vaccine is the most powerful tool against infection and severe illness, but the increasing number of breakthrough infections after vaccination are a reminder that no vaccine is 100% effective. As long as there continues to be cases of COVID in Westport, it is important to continue the use of the other tools at our disposal to reduce transmission such as masking when indoors and in large outdoor crowds, hand washing, social distancing, and limiting gathering sizes. This is particularly important as we approach the start of the new school year and to those young people who are unable to be vaccinated as they return to the classroom.”
Private social gatherings appear to be a growing source of transmission. Please reconsider social gatherings and be mindful of transmission that happens within the home. Keep gatherings to outdoors if possible and get tested, even if you only feel cold-like symptoms. Follow CDC guidelines for masking against the Delta and other variants. This advice is for everyone whether vaccinated or not.
I am grateful that Westporters recognize the importance of wearing masks and getting vaccinated. It is for our physical and mental health and safety that we remain vigilant, and at the same time, be respectful to others who may have differing opinions. We have come a long way in combatting this virus. While this development may seem like a step backward, it is undoubtedly necessary until the time comes when all have the capacity to be vaccinated and COVID-19 is a more manageable, non-life-threatening virus. We are stronger together.
Yesterday, the President announced that it will be critical to administer “booster” vaccinations to continue to fight the pandemic. Please note that the general public will not be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster until after September 20, and at that time, anyone receiving the booster will need to be at least 8 months from their second vaccination. When available, additional information and instructions about the booster will be posted on the WWHD website, www.WWHD.org. For questions about COVID-19, including vaccine planning, call the WWHD at 203-227-9571.