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Three more counties in state designated areas of 'substantial' COVID-19 transmission

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday designated three more Connecticut counties as areas of “substantial” COVID-19 transmission, recommending that people in those counties wear masks when indoors in public spaces, regardless of whether they’ve been fully vaccinated.

Fairfield, Tolland and Windham counties joined New London, Hartford and New Haven counties, which were assigned the designation earlier in the week. Connecticut’s remaining counties — Litchfield and Middlesex — remained in the “moderate” category, a step below “substantial.”

The Connecticut Department of Public Health responded to the CDC’s action.

“Per guidance this week from the CDC, anyone over age 2 who lives, works or travels throughout these counties should wear a mask when in public indoor spaces,” acting DPH Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. “This alert applies to all residents in these areas whether they are vaccinated or not.”

She said all Connecticut residents who have underlying medical conditions who are at high risk for complications of COVID-19, or residents who live with high-risk or unvaccinated individuals also should consider wearing masks in indoor public spaces. This includes vaccinated family members who live with young children who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

“We are seeing that the dominant delta variant can infect those who are vaccinated and that they can transmit the COVID infection to others,” Gifford said. “But I cannot stress enough that the vaccine is the safest and most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID.”

At least two more southeastern Connecticut municipalities announced Friday they will require all employees and members of the public to wear masks inside public buildings.

The requirement will take effect Tuesday in New London, according to Mayor Michael Passero’s office. Notices of the mask requirement will be posted at the entrance to all city buildings, and masks will be provided to those who arrive without one. Those with a medical condition or a religious objection that prevents them from wearing a mask should make other arrangements for service.

The city’s Finance Building at 13-15 Masonic St. will be open to the public by appointment only. The public can use the drive-thru entrance on the west side of the building.

Norwich City Manager John Salomone indicated that starting Monday the city will require all people to wear masks inside all city buildings. Norwich Public Utilities also is adopting the requirement.

On Thursday, officials in Groton and Ledyard announced similar mask mandates will take effect Monday.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s office reported Friday that 491 new COVID-19 cases had been counted in the state from among 18,025 new test results, a one-day positivity rate of 2.72%.

Hospitalizations totaled 116, up four from the previous day.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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