Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont was joined by Connecticut Department of Health Officials and Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference representatives and athletes Tuesday afternoon at New Britain Stadium to discuss the ongoing efforts in keeping the upcoming fall high school sports season a go for the 2021 season.
The main message from the half hour conference was vaccinations, with all representatives that took to the stand urging all student-athletes to get vaccinated in order to keep the season successful state wide.
City of New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart was one of the first officials to talk on the necessity of the vaccination, calling it a non-partisan issue.
"The City of New Britain has had incredible efforts in getting our community vaccinated and over that hurdle hesitancy to let them know it's safe,” said Stewart. “... We want our kids to be here playing on this field and for our sports to continue."
As of Tuesday at 1:43 p.m. the confirmed cases within Hartford County is at 88,426, a percentage that is up 1.1% from the week prior. The number of confirmed cases on Monday hit 388 within the county, which includes the cities of Hartford, New Britain and Bristol and area towns of Berlin, Newington and Plainville.
The number of confirmed cases within the county is the third highest in a single day over the last three months. All three highs over the last three months have come in the month of August.
Monday, the state as a whole posted a high of confirmed cases north of 1,500 people, well above the confirmed cases total from late spring and early summer.
"We have a little work we have to do," said Gov. Lamont. "... Come on 12 to 15 year olds, come on 15 to 17 year olds. Step up. We really need you to do it for your safety and your team so nobody has to step off the field. ... We've been the best in the country when it comes to people getting vaccinated and low infection rates. ... The infection rates continue to go up."
Ages 12-15 in the state of Connecticut have reached a vaccinated mark of 46%, according to the acting Commissioner of the Department of Health Dr. Diedre Gifford. Of that group, 58% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Of 16 and 17 year olds, 63% are fully vaccinated and 72% have received at least one vaccine.
Everyone ages 12 and older are available to get the vaccine, nationwide. In the state of Connecticut, as of Tuesday afternoon, 64.5% of residents are fully vaccinated.
Lamont also said the mask mandate from last fall will return, "at least for the first month," with school levels kindergarten through seniors in high school needing to wear a mask.
"My message to local school districts is that this is the rule: this is going to be a statewide mask mandate to all students, (kindergarten) through (seniors in high school). I don't want a lot of ambiguity there," said Gov. Lamont. "I think we're going to be starting at the start of the school year, so please be prepared."
The CIAC has been working with Gov. Lamont's office, along with the Department of Health, to ensure the safety of players by getting information from professionals. A liason to the CIAC, Dr. Carl Nissen, is the spokesperson for the Connecticut State Medical Society and spoke candidly on the safeness of the vaccine.
"The best thing we can recommend from a medical point of view is to get the vaccine," said Nissen. "What we are strongly recommending is for you to do that, whether you think of the vaccine being safe or not, ... it is a very safe vaccine and clinically [we] want you all to get the vaccine."
Surrounded by a handful of student athletes and representatives, Lamont closed the press conference with a final message of breaking COVID and needing everyone to band together to do so.
"I don't want everybody to be beaten down by masks," said Lamont. "We're going to have school this fall, winning football and track and field this fall, we're going to break the back of COVID and can't break it without each and every one of you."
- Monday the fall sports season opened up for football conditioning in Connecticut with all signs pointing to "yes" on if the season will start on time, according to CIAC representatives.
- Xavier standout and UConn baseball commit spoke urging fellow classmates to get the vaccine, pointing to prom, homecoming, football and other fall events that will not be able to take place without others banding together to combat COVID.
- Bloomfield Public Schools are partnering with Westfield Department of Public Health to begin offering vaccinations to students during school hours, and will provide a followup appointment 21 days later, according to principal Dan Moleti. Parental consent will be needed.
- Stewart also elaborated on the joint effort with the Department of Health to bring a testing location to New Britain Stadium's parking lot in an effort to bring the numbers back down. Earlier in the summer the Department of Health joined with the New Britain Bees, who are located across the parking lot of New Britain Stadium, to hold a vaccination site at select home games.
- New Britain High School principal Damon Pearce also spoke on the need for vaccinations, telling families to have an internal discussion and strongly consider getting the shot.
"I can guarantee you the one thing that will help promote that safe environment for our students is the vaccine," said Pearce. "I would encourage every family to have a very deep conversation and if you haven't received the vaccine to take it into consideration. We have our clinics at our school."
- Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz pointed to the number of those who were unvaccinated that died after COVID exposure as a good reason to get vaccinated, saying 96% of exposed unvaccinated patients since December have died.