Lamont Considers Phase 3 Opt-Out For Coronavirus Outbreak Towns

CONNECTICUT — Gov. Ned Lamont is now considering giving towns with a high volume of coronavirus cases discretion to stay at the second reopening phase.

“I think we are thinking about this on a town-by-town basis and perhaps giving those towns some discretion not to move to phase three, to stay at phase two,” Lamont said at a news conference.

Connecticut’s third reopening phase started Thursday. It increases indoor restaurant and personal service capacity from 50 to 75 percent. It also increases capacity at private social commercial gatherings like weddings as well as religious services, graduation ceremonies, outdoor entertainment and indoor performing arts.

The discretion to stay or roll back to phase two would be given if a town reached 15 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week rolling average. The state average is closer to seven per 100,000.

The eastern part of the state and particularly New London County is beginning to see a rise in cases. Norwich and New London have more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week average. Windham and Preston have between 15 and 24 cases per 100,000 residents. Those figures don’t include nursing homes, assisted living or correctional facilities.

The nature of the pandemic has changed since March and April where large swaths of the state were experiencing outbreaks, Lamont said. Many coronavirus outbreaks are being fueled by small private social gatherings where people get lax with mask use and social distancing.

Danbury’s outbreak that dated back to late August has been cooling off. Danbury’s outbreak occurred in one section of the city and mainly stayed there, said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford. Norwich and New London’s outbreaks aren’t as localized, she said.

The state’s rapid response testing team will help bring additional testing capacity to communities hit with coronavirus outbreaks. The team was active in Norwich last weekend and is partnering with the Ledge Light Health District in New London to bring additional testing to the area.

See also: CT Coronavirus Spread Different Now Than March: White House’s Dr. Deborah Birx

This article originally appeared on the Across Connecticut Patch

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