(WFSB) – More Connecticut counties have reached the 'substantial’ level for community spread, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
On Tuesday, the CDC came out with an update on mask guidance.
It said counties with “substantial” or “high” levels of community transmission were advised to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
By Wednesday, New London and Hartford counties reached the ‘substantial’ threshold.
Thursday afternoon, New Haven was added to that category.
By Friday, Windham, Tolland and Fairfield counties were then identified as reaching the 'substantial’ level.
The only counties in Connecticut that have not yet reached that threshold are Litchfield and Middlesex counties.
See the CDC tracker by clicking here.
Following new mask guidance issued by the CDC, the state’s Department of Public Health said Thursday that residents who live in counties with “substantial transmission” should wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of their vaccination status.
While it's not a mandate, DPH officials strongly recommend it.
"If you’re living in an area with that kind of transmission, it is a good idea and the DPH strongly recommends that you wear a mask whenever you’re in an indoor space," said Acting DPH Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford.
Martin Stack said he never stopped wearing his mask, even after getting vaccinated. He added that people who don’t follow the CDC’s guidance are taking a big risk.
“It’s a hard way to find out why you’re not wearing it,” Stack said.
However, some people are confident the vaccine will keep them safe, and they want to see things return to normal.
“For me, I think everything is becoming normal now, I see every day more spirit,” said Jose Navarro.
The highly contagious Delta variant is driving this latest surge in cases, and the CDC said studies are finding even vaccinated people can spread the virus if infected with the Delta variant.
“We understand that there’s definitely some pandemic fatigue out there,” Gifford said.
Public health officials know people are ready for a return to normal, but they also say it’s possible the CDC mask guidance could soon apply to all of Connecticut.
“Given how infectious this virus is, this Delta variant, it’s likely we’ll see all, most or all, of our all of our counties hit that threshold very soon,” Gifford added.
When asked about President Biden’s suggestion of a $100 incentive to get people vaccinated, Gifford said she didn’t think Connecticut would be doing that, as our vaccination rate is higher than most of the country and past incentives didn’t have enough impact.
After seeing vaccination rates drop off in recent week, more people in Connecticut are getting their shot. It’s not a huge uptick, but public health officials said they will take it.
“We were down around 17,000 new series started a few weeks back, and in the most recent week we’re up over 20,000,” Gifford said.
She said there’s likely several reasons for the uptick, saying some hesitant people finally feel the vaccine is safe.
Others may be worried about places requiring vaccinations.
Then there’s the Delta variant. Studies show vaccinated people can catch and spread the variant, but the vaccine tends to lead to better outcomes.
Whatever the reason, Vernon officials said they’ve been seen more people at their pop-up clinics.
“Our numbers consistently draw attention, which is wonderful, and we’re still going to be here for them,” said Amy Watt, assistant director for Vernon Parks and Recreation.
Robert Brown was among the hesitant until two weeks ago. But he did his researched and talked with people who got the vaccine. On Friday, he was getting his second dose at a Community Health Center clinic in Waterbury.
“I was a little skeptic, didn’t really know, doing my research,” he said.
For others, the pop-up events are more accessible than the mass vaccine sites we saw earlier in the pandemic.
State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said all public employees at the state and local level in Connecticut should need to get vaccinated or take regular tests, similar to what President Biden is doing at the federal level.
The governor said he wasn’t ready to do that when Channel 3 asked him earlier this week.