Lamont: “It’s Time for Residents to Wear Masks in Public”

*Our colleagues at CTNewsJunkie make the Governor’s daily 4 p.m. media briefing available on the GOOD Morning Wilton Facebook page.

Gov. Ned Lamont told the media at his daily briefing on Wednesday, April 15, that CT residents will now need to wear a mask when out in public. “It’s time for us to also be really strict about the need to wear a mask,” he said, adding that he would likely mandate it in an executive order within the next 48 hours.

“I am strongly saying that this what you’ve got to do.” Lamont will likely issue guidelines issued about where and when masks should be worn.

He clarified that homemade masks or bandanas were fine and that N95 and surgical masks should still be reserved for frontline healthcare workers. Lamont’s Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe referred to cloth face-coverings that people can “easily make for themselves” by following instructions on the CDC website. “Those are easy for people to put them together on their own.”

Lamont also said masks go hand-in-hand with social distancing.

“If you can keep your social distance, you don’t have to wear a mask. If you’re walking down the block and you’re by yourself, that’s fine; if you get to a crowded group, wear a mask. If you go into a store, you’re going to be interfacing with somebody at the store, wear a mask. If you work at the store, wear a mask.”

Gesturing to the cloth mask around his own neck, Lamont added, “This is the way we’re going to get this virus behind us sooner and make sure that we can get everybody back to work as soon as we possibly can.”

He added that employers–especially grocery stores–needed to ensure that their employees had masks to wear and that anyone who enters the supermarket to shop wore a mask too.

With 197 new deaths reported in CT in the last 24 hours, Lamont acknowledged the shock at such a high number. “That’s a big number, 197–what the hell is going on?” He attributed the jump to “catch up numbers” when the state gets data after the fact on deaths that happen outside of a hospital setting, or from a backlog in reporting from the medical examiner’s office. The jump brought the total number of COVID-19 related fatalities to 868.

He also focused on the number of new hospital admissions, specifically in Fairfield County:  “In case anyone is getting complacent, you’ll see the number of [hospital] admissions in Fairfield County is going up as fast as it ever has,” Lamont said, adding. “There’s still a lot of admissions, that reflects infection rate, and reflects the fact that we still have some work to do.”

The number of positive cases in the state climbed to 14,755 Wednesday as well.

Lamont referred to protests in other states, most notably Michigan, where citizens organized protests against their officials’ orders to stay at home. He said he realized that the stay-at-home order he has set for Connecticut certainly isn’t easy. “Stay-at-home is really tough, and I’ve got to ask people to tough it out a little bit longer. I’m trying my best to make it easier for you,” he said, adding that he has not closed parks or beaches like other states have.

To that end, he said he would encourage municipal leaders across the state to do something a little different. “Instead of closing down parks, maybe close down some of the roads to automobile traffic so people have more room, not just on sidewalks, but can walk and enjoy themselves as the weather gets nicer in a boulevard.”

Request for Additional Federal Aid

Lamont hopes that there will be additional aid for municipalities and the state coming from Washington. “This next supplemental coming out of Washington, it’s been delayed right now. We desperately do need more flexibility in terms of what we provide for the states and the municipalities,” he said. “We’re all going to need some back-up so we can round the bend on July 1 knowing that our budgets are in pretty good shape.”

He said that there is a “significant rainy day fund” to fall back on a bit. “This is what it’s there for.”