Fairfield officials tell residents to mask up and get vaccinated as COVID spreads

Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick gives a thumbs up as she receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Jaime Vargas at Hartford HealthCare’s new mass vaccination clinic on the west campus of Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Conn. March 10, 2021.

Fairfield First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick gives a thumbs up as she receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Jaime Vargas at Hartford HealthCare’s new mass vaccination clinic on the west campus of Sacred Heart University, in Fairfield, Conn. March 10, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

FAIRFIELD — Officials are warning residents to take precautions as the number of COVID-19 cases rise in town.

In a update video posted Wednesday afternoon, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick urged residents to wear masks and get vaccinated. She said some residents are looking for the town to “take a stronger stand on a mask mandate,” adding she is in constant consultation with state and local health officials.

“I understand that people feel a little bit more comfort... if we had a mandate in place,” she said. “However, we do have things we didn’t have when we had the mandate in place before.”

There is widespread access to vaccines and “a majority” of the community is signing up for booster vaccinations, Kupchick said, noting she also recommends that residents follow U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

According to state data, Fairfield saw 403 new cases from Nov. 28 to Dec. 11, and has a rate of 46.4 cases per 100,000 people. State data also reports approximately 70 percent of Fairfield residents have been fully vaccinated.

“If you are unvaccinated, you should be wearing a mask when in public,” she said. “I would encourage those who are unvaccinated to, please, get vaccinated.”

Kupchick said she is vaccinated and got her booster shot and still wears her mask when indoors, and advised residents do the same. She said the majority of new cases she has heard of from contact tracers are happening from gatherings inside people’s houses.

“So please, be careful. Pay attention. Talk to the people who are coming to your house if you’re going to be gathering together without masks,” she said. “If you don’t feel well, and you can’t get a test, it’s probably a good idea for you to stay away from other people so we are not spreading this around.”

Health Department Director Sands Cleary said Fairfield is experiencing a significant peak of COVID-19 activity, in line with the rest of the region.

“The number of cases that we’re seeing right now is close to the highest that we’ve seen during the entire pandemic,” he said.

Cleary said hospitalizations are not increasing to the same level as previous waves. He said the COVID-19 omicron variant does not appear to cause severe illness, but it does appear to be more transmissible and better able to evade immunity.

“Being vaccinated, still, is one of the best steps that you can take to prevent severe illness,” he said. “We are seeing the most severe cases, currently, among those who are unvaccinated.”

Cleary said the town is likely to see an increase in cases, as well as breakthrough cases, over the next few weeks. With that, he said, residents are more likely to need to isolate and quarantine.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Fairfield’s Superintendent of Schools Mike Cummings said officials would look at concerns about the spread of coronavrius over the break but added that “as of today, we are keeping current mitigation protocols.”

Cleary later reiterated residents should get vaccinated or their booster shots, get tested if they have symptoms and stay home if they are sick.

“Everyone should wear a mask when they are indoors, especially the unvaccinated,” he said. “The current CDC recommendation is that everyone wear masks indoor. The current state requirement is that everybody who is unvaccinated is required to wear a mask inside. He are in a high transmission category... and we want people to take that seriously.”

Kupchick said she is asking for people to wear masks in the community, adding she does not want to mandate their use.

joshua.labella@hearstmediact.com