West Hartford considers revising COVID policies as cases climb

View of West Hartford Town Hall in West Hartford, Conn., on Thursday Jan. 7, 2020.

WEST HARTFORD — As COVID cases climb, local officials are meeting this week to discuss mask mandates and the possibility of requiring vaccines and mandatory weekly testing for employees, town spokesperson Renée B. McCue said.

Hartford County’s increasing case rate has elevated its risk of community spread from moderate to substantial, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In recent days, most of Connecticut has reached this level of having 50 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

This prompted Deidre Gifford, the acting commissioner of the state Department of Public Health, to strongly recommend people who work, visit or live in these counties to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. Her statement stopped short of an outright mandate.

As of Friday, West Hartford officials had not issued any new COVID mandates.

“Municipalities follow the governor’s directives and he has not made mask wearing a mandate at this time, therefore, we have not made it mandatory, either,” McCue said. “We are monitoring the situation carefully. The same is true for West Hartford Public Schools. It’s too early to make a call.”

She said town officials were meeting to discuss mask mandates, the possibility of requiring employees to get vaccinated or undergo mandatory weekly testing.

New York is requiring all state employees to get vaccinated for COVID by Labor Day or complete weekly COVID testing, a policy also in place for city employees in New York City. Other towns are also requiring employees be vaccinated, according to the Associated Press.

The announcements came as the CDC issued new guidance calling for everyone to wear masks in school settings.

The state is expected to make a decision on what will be required in Connecticut schools in the coming weeks.

Connecticut reported 491 new cases on Friday.

West Hartford had a positivity rate of 9.2 per 100,000 over the past two weeks with 27 cases the first week and 54 the second week, according to the state Department of Public Health data on Friday.

Connecticut Media Group