Health

‘It’s Not Curbing The Spike Down In New York’: Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont Rejects Mask Mandates

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Healthcare Reporter
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Another Democratic governor is changing his stance on mask mandates as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeps across the country.

Democratic Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday that he would not be reimposing a statewide mask mandate, citing the rapid spread of COVID-19 in New York City, which does have a mandate. Instead, Lamont emphasized the importance of getting booster vaccine shots and protecting the most vulnerable populations from the virus.

A reporter asked Lamont during a press conference if reinstating a mask mandate could “also curb the spike that we’re currently in?”

“Well it’s not curbing the spike down in New York City, which is probably ground zero,” Lamont responded. “If I think about things, I certainly think about nursing homes and other congregate settings where I think the booster shot is probably the number one priority, to make sure everybody that can be boosted is boosted there. That would be my next priority.”

Connecticut is experiencing a 66% increase in new COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Hospitalizations are up 35%, and deaths are up 38% to an average of nine per day. (RELATED: Merck’s New COVID-19 Pill Could Accidentally Trigger A New Variant, Experts Warn)

Some states and cities have responded to the spread of the Omicron variant, which is more contagious but less severe than prior strains of the virus, by reimposing certain restrictions like mask mandates. New York City is one of those places, but cases there are up almost 600% over the last two weeks, hospitalizations are up 73% and deaths have risen from a daily average of 12 to 19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Omicron is not yet the dominant strain in Health and Human Services region 1, where Connecticut is. It is the dominant strain in region 2, which includes New York and New Jersey.