COVID-19 Update Sept 1, 2021: Lamont Eyes Extending School Mask Mandate as Wilton Sees 16 Cases Last Week and Test Positivity Rises

On a day where both Wilton’s and the state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate rose to recent high marks, Gov. Ned Lamont is looking past the end of September when his executive powers are scheduled to end. Tuesday, Aug. 31, he told members of the media he may push to keep the school mask mandate in place after Sept. 30.

“The world changes a lot in two weeks, but I think by the middle of September we have to figure out how we go forward because I don’t think this pandemic is going to be behind us by the end of September,” he said. He acknowledged that his staff is beginning conversations with legislative staff about extending those orders.

Lamont framed it in the context of keeping kids in school, on a day when the CT State Department of Education released data that students who learned remotely lost academic ground.

“The next three weeks will really be important. I’ve got a lot of folks heading back to schools, I’ve been pretty strict about wearing the masks, especially for the group that can’t get vaccinated. I want the teachers all vaccinated. There’s nothing more important than getting our kids back to school, I’m not going to have a lost year,” he said.

Much will depend on whether the more contagious Delta variant slows down as hoped, allowing schools and businesses to operate along the “new normal.”

“We’ve been relatively flat for now two-plus weeks, and we’ll see what that means. I hope it means we’re back to a new normal. Our kids are in school safely, our businesses are open and people are being cautious, wearing the mask when they gotta wear the mask,” Lamont said.

But he made the remarks Tuesday morning, before the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) released the day’s numbers around 5 p.m., one hour later than is typical. With 1,003 new COVID-19 cases reported statewide on Tuesday, the data showed the test positivity rate for the state was 4.65% — the second-highest it’s been since April after spending the early part of summer below 1.0%.

It was also a more recent high mark for Wilton’s two-week average test positivity rate, which has been rising since the summer.

Wilton added 16 cases in the last week alone, bringing the total number of cases for August to 60 — a significant jump over the 12 cases reported in July and four cases in June.

The CT DPH updates COVID-19 risk ranks every Thursday. While this past week’s statewide map (below left) showed Wilton as a yellow “moderate” risk in a sea of the higher orange and red risk-categorized towns, the reporting is actually delayed. According to more up-to-date monitoring by GOOD Morning Wilton, Wilton is back to orange risk (below right).

Lamont is still urging resident who haven’t yet gotten vaccinated to do so.

“We don’t have enough people vaccinated right now. We’re best in the country but we still have a way to go. If I can get another 10% of you vaccinated, it’s safe, it’s appropriate, it keeps you out of trouble, keeps your family out of trouble, do it,” he said Tuesday.