Mask Mandate Rescinded After Sunday Health District Consultation
Following a consultation with Newtown Health District Director Donna Culbert on Sunday, September 26, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal issued a CODE RED announcement ahead of lifting a temporary indoor mask mandate that had previously been instated and was extended by the Legislative Council.
The text of the message is as follows:
"Four weeks ago I called with the news that an indoor mask mandate was being instituted for Newtown based on increasing COVID cases. At that time our case rate based on a two week average was 16.9 cases per 100,000 population, which was above CDC guidance for indoor mask wearing at 10 cases per 100,000," Rosenthal's message began.
"At the time, I also shared the metrics that would need to be present in order to lift the mandate, which would require consecutive weeks of case decline where cases fall below CDC guidance.
"I’m pleased to report, our case rate per 100,000 over the last four weeks has gone from 17.2 to 15.1 to 10 to now 7.7," he points out. "In addition, using a seven day average we have been below 10 cases per 100,000 for two weeks.
"The trend line for Fairfield County has been similar.
"As such, effective tomorrow the mandate that all individuals regardless of vaccination status wear masks indoors in public spaces is lifted. This does not apply to our schools as that is under the purview of the Governor," the first selectmen said.
"This is not to suggest that nobody should wear masks any longer. Furthermore, by order of the Governor, unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks indoors. I expect that some of our businesses will continue to require masks, which is permitted and should be supported no matter what.
"As I mentioned in my last call, the continued decline in our case rate comes down to all of us, as we need to be conscientious as to our activities, such as travel and large gatherings and if you don’t feel well, please stay home," Rosenthal further stated. " We are all in this together and we need to be considerate of one another.
"The best protection from serious COVID illness is to get vaccinated. Please see our Health District website for information on how to do so. In addition, as we get more color on booster shot availability for those that are over 65 or have underlying health issues we will add it to the website as well.
"Our Health Director, Donna Culbert, and I will, of course, continue to follow this closely and will make updates as necessary," the message concludes.
CDC, District Updates
Four days earlier, Culbert told The Newtown Bee that she was awaiting directives regarding the recently authorized Pfizer booster.
On September 24, the CDC released a recommendation that the following groups should receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series (i.e., the first 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine):
*People aged 65 years and older
*Residents aged 18 years and older in long-term care settings
*People aged 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
CDC also recommends that the following groups may receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 Vaccine at least 6 months after completing their Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, based on their individual benefits and risks:
*People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions
*People aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting
These recommendations only apply to people who previously received a Pfizer-BioNTech primary series (i.e., the first 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine).
People can talk to their healthcare provider about whether getting a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot is appropriate for them.
Culbert said, detailed information regarding upcoming efforts to provide booster vaccinations should be coming soon. She is also expecting information/directives about vaccinating children under 12.
"People who have not yet been vaccinated and looking to do so or those individuals who are immunocompromised can seek out a third dose now, as close as Walgreens and CVS here in town, as well as the DPH/Griffin Health Vaccination Van that will be at St. Rose on September 30th from 4 to 8 pm," the health official said, adding she expects to see many more vaccine distribution locations in the region opening or reopening.
"For this week, it seems that cases are leveling off," Culbert said, despite a small increase since last week, from 14 to 18. As of September 23, Newtown's positivity rate for COVID-19 infections had dropped to the 'tan' designation, with less than 7.7 active cases per 1,000 residents according to the state database.
Look for additional coverage in this week's print edition of The Newtown Bee and at newtownbee.com.
Editor John Voket can be reached at email@example.com.