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Lamont Considers Rolling Back Connecticut Reopening as COVID-19 Cases Spike

  • Connecticut’s COVID-19 positivity rate reaches 6.1 percent, the highest since June
  • Governor Ned Lamont reluctant to return state to Phase 2 of reopening rules, but urges communities with high infection rates to do so voluntarily
  • New executive order authorizes about 70 percent of Connecticut cities and towns to take this option

An alarming increase in Connecticut’s COVID-19 cases has led Governor Ned Lamont to say a rollback in the state’s reopening may be necessary if conditions don’t improve. For now, Lamont is advising municipalities with high infection rates to voluntarily increase restrictions on businesses.

Lamont reported Thursday that the state’s positive COVID-19 test rate had jumped to 6.1 percent while the seven-day average rose to 3.1 percent. Both are at their highest point since June and mark a decided shift from the summer, when cases remained around 1 percent for much of the season. Connecticut moved to Phase 3 of its reopening plan earlier this month, allowing increased capacities at a variety of venues, though Lamont said at the time that rules could be tightened if the seven-day average crested 5 percent.

If cases continue their upward trajectory, Lamont said it could trigger a statewide rollback to more stringent Phase 2 reopening rules. Instead of taking this action now, Lamont is urging “red alert” municipalities with at least 15 new daily cases per 100,000 residents to do so on their own, an option previously granted to them under an executive order. Windham has been the only Connecticut community to exercise this power, though the new spike in cases has prompted Bridgeport, New Haven, Norwalk, and Stamford to return to Phase 2.

A new executive order issued Thursday grants the same authority to “orange alert” municipalities with more than 10 new daily cases per 100,000 residents. Altogether, this gives about 70 percent of cities and towns in Connecticut the option to roll back to Phase 2 restrictions if they see fit.

The development prompted criticism from Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. DiPentima said the spread of the virus has primarily been caused by social gatherings rather than businesses reopening, and said a reimposition of restrictions is more likely to cause economic damage than bring down the infection rate.

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