Fairfield officials lift indoor mask mandate


FAIRFIELD – Fairfield has lifted the current mandate for indoor masks, effective immediately, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick announced on Friday.

Kupchick said the decision to lift the warrant was the result of many positive trends over the past few weeks and after consulting with the director of health and the director of emergency management. Instead, the city will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends wearing masks indoors and in close contact with others.

The city also said that if residents feel more comfortable wearing a mask indoors, they should continue to do so.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a steadily declining trend in case and hospitalization rates, which has also been seen statewide and nationwide,” Kupchick said. “National and state public health professionals have informed that the peak of the delta variant wave is probably behind us and our health director has also informed me that while conditions may always change and future increases could occur, it currently appears that this wave peaked in the town of Fairfield about two weeks ago.

Kupchick said she put the mask’s mandate into effect on August 23 to ask residents and neighboring towns to join her “as an additional layer of protection against the highly contagious Delta variant.” Westport and Easton have joined.

Neither Westport nor Easton announced on Friday they were lifting the warrant and officials could not be reached for comment.

The decision to implement the warrant was based on Fairfield’s entry into the state’s red category at the time, the highest category for positivity rates and the CDC’s high transmission category.

Hospitalizations statewide and Fairfield County were also on the rise as the variant began to peak.

“We put this temporary measure into effect when all indicators were trending negative,” Kupchick said. “I made it clear that we would continue to monitor all data and lift the mandate when multiple indicators consistently point in a positive direction.”

Since the announcement of the mask’s tenure, Fairfield’s number has started to falter and then to drop. This week, Fairfield County was demoted by the CDC from high transmission to substantial category and the city was demoted by the state from red to orange.

Fairfield’s case rate is 11.99 per 100,000 population on Friday, and the state’s positivity rate is only 1.26%, according to state data.

Kupchick said Fairfield’s vaccination rate was an additional factor in his decision to lift the warrant. The percentage of the population vaccinated has climbed since the announcement of the mandate. Fairfield currently has 67% of its population fully vaccinated and 71% have received at least the first dose.

The age group with the lowest vaccination rate is 18-24, which currently stands at 63%.

Kupchick said Fairfield expects those numbers to be higher because of data which shows most of the city’s college students are vaccinated. These vaccination rates are recorded in the student’s home states, however, Fairfield University is 92% vaccinated and the University of the Sacred Heart reports being over 90% vaccinated as well.

“Vaccination is the most important defense against serious illness and hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” Kupchick said. “Although vaccine breakthrough cases have occurred in Connecticut, the majority of these cases report mild symptoms and have not resulted in serious illness or hospitalization.”

Kupchick said that of the nearly 2.3 million people who completed their vaccine series, less than 0.6% of Connecticut’s fully vaccinated residents contracted the virus.

“The most severe cases tend to be in unvaccinated individuals,” Kupchick said.

The lifting of the city’s mandate by Kupchick has no effect on the mandate of the school mask, which comes from a decree of the governor. She said city leaders did not have the power to change this policy.

However, companies have the power to continue to demand masks for their employees and customers.

“I hope that our residents will be respectful of the decisions of companies who choose whether or not to require masks, and also to be respectful of city residents who choose to wear a mask or not,” Kupchick said.

“I have done my best to guide our city through the pandemic and make thoughtful and informed decisions for our community,” she added. “We have all been through a lot together over the past 18 months and the emotions continue to be strong. I once again ask our community to respect each other when it comes to differences of opinion because in the end, we are neighbors.

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