With COVID cases rising, West Hartford reinstates mask mandate in town buildings

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

WEST HARTFORD — Masks will again be required inside all of the town’s municipal buildings, starting on Monday.

The mandate, which was repealed on Oct. 22, returns as COVID cases rise amid the spread of the omicron variant.

“We are taking this action due to the high rate of community transmission,” Town Manager Matt Hart said in a statement. “The town will continue to monitor conditions and will make policy changes accordingly.”

According to the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, the town had reported 106 new cases on Dec. 1 and 104 cases on Dec. 7. That number rose to 264 new cases - an 8 percent positivity rate - on Dec. 15. The week the mandate was repealed in October the town had only reported 32 new cases.

As of Dec. 16, the town is considered a “red zone” in the state with 32.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Vaccination rates in West Hartford remain high. According to data release by the health district, 100 percent of West Hartford residents 65 years or older are fully vaccinated. At least 83 percent are vaccinated in all other age ranges beginning with 12-year-olds. Five to 11 year olds are off to a fast start, with 51 percent of them being partially vaccinated, compared to the statewide average of 26 percent.

The mandate means that all employees and visitors at municipal buildings, regardless of their vaccination status, will need to wear a mask upon entering a town building, including hallways, restrooms and meeting rooms. The requirement also applies to anyone participating in a public meeting.

“We greatly appreciate the cooperation of all visitors and employees as we work together to reduce the spread and incidence of COVID-19,” Mayor Shari Cantor said in a statement. “It is important for us to protect our workforce and our visitors so that we can continue to serve our community.”

Those who enter a town building without a mask will be offered one to wear. The town said anyone who is unable to wear a mask due to a health requirement will be exempt from the mandate.

Aimee Krauss, the executive director of the West Hartford Health-Bloomfield District, said residents should seek vaccinations and booster shots if they haven’t already.

“Vaccinated persons are less likely to experience severe effects of the virus nor require hospitalization if they contract COVID-19,” Krauss said in a statement. “Vaccines are widely available at our health district, Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, urgent care centers, area hospitals and many other locations.”

Connecticut Media Group