Lamont Wants Legislature To Be Involved In Covid Decisions

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday he would welcome a special legislative session to decide how to respond to the latest wave of the pandemic in Connecticut.

Lamont's latest set of executive orders, including one dictating masks in public schools, expire on Sept. 30.

Speaking during a visit to the Juniper Design Group in Southington on Tuesday, Lamont said he's been talking to legislative leaders informally about what should happen next.

“I think the legislature's going to want to come in and I'd like to work with them in terms of what we do after Sept. 30 and get their point of view on masks, schools, vaccinations for state employees,” Lamont said. “I don't have to make all these decisions by myself. I'll take some help.”

Lamont said he also plans to meet soon with state union officials to discuss protocols. The governor said he believes most Connecticut residents have been making good decisions when it comes to wearing masks and getting vaccinated and he's inclined to leave the decision on mandating vaccines up to businesses, including restaurants and local authorities.

“We're certainly going to have minimum requirements that we think are important," he said.

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SCHOOL MASKS

Waterbury has mandated mask-wearing in public schools for the 2021-22 year to guard against the coronavirus as state officials consider extending a statewide school mask requirement past September.

City officials recently announced the mask requirement and said all students and staff will return for in-person learning on Aug. 30.

“We have some protocols in place, safety measures in place that we’re going to continue to honor," said Superintendent of Schools Verna Ruffin.

Connecticut currently has a mask requirement for schools that runs through the end of September. Gov. Ned Lamont and education officials have not announced any plans to extend the school mask mandate. The Democratic governor said Monday that he hopes to give parents a couple weeks' notice on whether masks will be required.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued new guidance recommending “universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.” The agency cited the risk of spread of the highly contagious delta variant, even among vaccinated people.

On Sunday, the state Department of Public Health issued a recommendation that people, both unvaccinated and vaccinated, wear face masks when they’re in an indoor public setting because of the growing number of cases.

Coronavirus infections have been increasing in Connecticut and elsewhere as the delta variant has become the dominant strain. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in the state has risen over the past two weeks from about 149 new cases per day on July 18 to 422 new cases per day on Aug. 1, according to Johns Hopkins University.

In other coronavirus-related news:

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CITY HALL OUTBREAK

Municipal offices in the central Connecticut city of Middletown will be closed to the public this week because of a “small outbreak” of COVID-19, the mayor announced.

“Due to a small outbreak of COVID-19 cases among city employees, several staff members are currently quarantining,” Mayor Ben Florsheim said in a news release Monday.

Middletown's City Hall closed as of Tuesday and will tentatively reopen to the public on Aug. 9, Florsheim said.

The mayor said that because a larger COVID-19 outbreak would have been possible without quick action to halt the spread of the disease, “we came to the decision that the best option for the safety of our staff and the public is to work fully remotely for the next few days.”

Health officials do not believe there is risk to members of the public who visited City Hall in recent days, Florsheim said.