The delta variant in Connecticut: Your questions answered

The delta variant of the coronavirus is now considered the dominant strain in the country, according to experts. It is believed to be around 60 percent more transmissible than the alpha variant, which was previously dominant around Connecticut and the U.S. The delta variant originated in India.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced on July 28 that Connecticut currently has a 2.94 percent COVID test positivity rate — the highest single-day positivity rate since May 5 — and has an additional 391 cases. This week the CDC revised recommendations to state that some fully vaccinated people should wear face coverings indoors in places that are considered high risk; Connecticut is one of these places as of now.

As cases begin to rise, here’s what you need to know about the delta variant and COVID-19 in Connecticut.

What is the COVID-19 positivity rate in Connecticut?
The current positivity rate in Connecticut is 2.67 percent. Updated COVID-19 positivity data can be viewed here.

What is the vaccination rate in Connecticut?
The current vaccination rate in Connecticut is 63 percent. Updated COVID-19 vaccination data can be viewed here.

How many breakthrough COVID-19 cases have there been in Connecticut?
As of July 23, the state Department of Public Health has tracked 938 breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among people who are vaccinated. One hundred and sixty people were hospitalized and 20 died. However, the total number of breakthrough cases may not represent the full number of positive tests among people who have received vaccinations.

Where are the COVID-19 hotspots in Connecticut?

As of July 28, 2021, Hartford and New London counties have been designated as having substantial spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday, the CDC recommended that people in these two counties wear masks indoors even if they are fully vaccinated. 

Where are masks needed?
Masks are currently only required indoors for those who are unvaccinated. With the CDC’s recent guidance on vaccinated individuals wearing masks in certain situations, Gov. Ned Lamont is looking at re-implementing some mask requirements. The governor’s office is expected to have more guidance on mask wearing in the coming days. 

What are the chances of contracting COVID-19 if I’m vaccinated?
The CDC states that “a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 if they are exposed.” However, there is some evidence that if a fully-vaccinated individual contracts COVID-19, symptoms tend to be less severe.  

Is there any guidance on booster shots for my COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC has not established a need for or timing for additional COVID-19 booster shots. The CDC does not recommend additional shots at this time.

Am I required to show proof of vaccination/negative COVID test prior to travel?
As of March 21, 2021, Gov. Ned Lamont has rescinded the executive order on traveling to Connecticut, however, Lamont hinted at the possible return of some travel restrictions as COVID cases climb across the country. There is currently no longer a mandatory quarantine or proof of negative test results required to travel to Connecticut. The state asks that anyone traveling outside of their local community to adhere to CDC travel guidelines.

What are isolation guidelines if I have been vaccinated but suspect exposure to COVID-19?
According to the CDC, those who have been vaccinated and were exposed to someone with suspected or confirmed to be carrying COVID-19 should be tested within three to five days after exposure. They are also advised to wear a mask in public indoor spaces for 14 days following exposure or until a negative test result is confirmed. The CDC advises vaccinated individuals to isolate if they tested positive in the prior 10 days or display symptoms of the virus. 

What are the recommendations for wearing a mask in the gym?
Currently, the CDC advises the use of masks in public indoor spaces for hotspot cities and states. The state of Connecticut states that vaccinated individuals may not wear masks in public indoor settings, while unvaccinated individuals are asked to continue wearing face coverings.

What are New York and New Jersey doing?
Both Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey are asking individuals who are vaccinated to wear masks indoors in “high-risk settings,” however, it is not required by law. Gov. Cuomo also announced plans to require vaccines for health care and state workers by Labor Day. Those who choose not to be vaccinated will be subject to weekly testing. 

Currently, there are no travel restrictions in New York or New Jersey.

What if I commute to New York City?
There are no travel restrictions for Connecticut residents commuting into New York City. However, masks are still required on public transportation regardless of vaccination status.

What is the guidance for students’ mask wearing?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidance and recommends students wear masks in schools in some areas of the country where COVID-10 cases are high. However, Connecticut is not listed as one of the areas as cases are considered moderate. Max Reiss, communications director for Gov. Ned Lamont, said the state is “reviewing the guidance and we will have additional updates in the coming days.”

Can I still go to bars?
Yes, bars continue to be open in the state, according to Connecticut’s guidelines. You can find the status of different businesses here

What happens with my job if I get COVID-19 again?
Instructions regarding pay and time off for a second COVID diagnosis is different at each company. Talk to your manager or human resources department if you have any questions. 

Who can spread COVID-19?
Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can spread and contract COVID-19. However, Connecticut residents vaccinated against COVID-19 have had a 1 in 2,500 chance of having a positive test. Unvaccinated residents have had a 1 in 6 chance of contracting the virus, according to data by the state Department of Public Health

What is the mask guidance for public transportation?
According to the state of Connecticut, masks are still required on public transportation regardless of vaccination status. 

Are there long-term effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC states that serious, long-term side effects of any vaccine — including COVID-19 vaccines —  are “extremely unlikely.” If side effects arise from a vaccine, they typically present within six weeks of receiving a vaccine dose; the CDC states that because of this, COVID-19 vaccines were studied for at least two months following final doses. At this point, no long-term side effects have been detected.