West Hartford issues indoor mask advisory for everyone

File photo of a press conference at the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.

The West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District recently issued a mask advisory, recommending everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering indoors when they are near anyone who is not part of their household.

This includes stores, restaurants and private holiday gatherings, according to the advisory.

“COVID-19 cases are surging, and we often see spread between family and friends who let their guard down at holiday gatherings,” said Health Director Aimee Krauss.

She said the district is seeing an increase in breakthrough cases for people who are vaccinated and believe it’s due to the omicron variant.

“The omicron variant is highly contagious, and it will cause an exponential rise in cases,” Krauss said. “For these reasons, we are recommending that everyone practice universal masking as cases continue to surge.”

West Hartford reported 349 cases between Dec. 5 and Dec. 18, according to the most recent data from the state. It has a positivity rate of 39.6 per 100,000 people.

All unvaccinated people still must wear masks under Gov. Ned Lamont’s mask mandate. Masks are also mandatory for everyone in certain settings, including schools, transportation and health care facilities.

Krauss emphasized that getting vaccinated remains the best defense against COVID-19.

“It is never too late to get vaccinated, and vaccine clinics are widely available at area drug stores and other clinics,” said Krauss. “Although we are seeing an increase in breakthrough cases over time, vaccines still provide very good protection against severe illness and hospitalization.”

About 89.72 percent of West Hartford has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the most recent vaccine data from the state.

West Hartford Mayor Shari G. Cantor and Bloomfield Mayor Danielle Wong issued a joint statement in support of the health district’s mask advisory.

“We know how difficult the past two years have been, and we are very cognizant of how exhausted everyone is of pandemic mitigation measures,” they said. “We are thankful that so many people in our communities are taking this latest surge seriously, and the high level of voluntary compliance we are already seeing with mask wearing and social distancing. It is absolutely critical that during the holiday season we do everything we can to keep our friends, neighbors and families safe.”

Connecticut Media Group