There’s no mask mandate in Fairfield. Here’s why.

Photo of Katrina Koerting
Old Town Hall in Fairfield, Conn.

Old Town Hall in Fairfield, Conn.

File photo / File photo

FAIRFIELD — First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said she’s not planning to reinstate the town’s mask mandate despite rising cases based on health officials’ guidance.

During Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Kupchick said about 30 people have emailed her asking her to reinstate a mask mandate. She said she and other town leaders posed the questions to the state Department of Public Health during the two statewide COVID calls last week and were told it wasn’t needed at this time.

“I know that people feel that if a mask mandate is on, then all of a sudden the transmission is going to go down dramatically and that’s not what we’re hearing from public health officials,” she said. “I keep trying to remind residents in our town that I am not a public health official. I take the guidance of public health officials.”

Fairfield reported 1,036 cases between Dec. 12 and 25 for a positivity rate of 119.3 cases per 100,000 people, according to the most recent state data.

Kupchick still encouraged residents to take all of the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their families safe. She also said people are able to leave the store and shop elsewhere if they don’t feel comfortable though officials are not seeing the bulk of the transmission happening in stores.

Kupchick said contact tracers have found that most of the positive cases are happening in private gatherings and not at stores where the mask mandate would apply.

She said she’s received some phone calls from residents about people not wearing masks in grocery stores and while she understands their concerns, she reminded people health officials said the greater chance of getting COVID happens if people are unmasked within six feet of each other for at least 15 minutes.

“What our contact tracers have said over the past many months is that the majority of our positive cases are not where someone goes into a grocery store and someone two aisles away doesn’t have a mask on,” Kupchick said. “It’s coming from Thanksgiving events, holiday parties, dinner parties, kids having parties at their homes or just getting together. That’s where this thing is really spreading.”

Masks are still required for various situations under an existing gubernatorial executive order for schools, hospitals, public transportation and unvaccinated individuals.

Certain towns have also brought back mask mandates for town buildings.

Gov. Ned Lamont has said he’s not bringing back a statewide mask mandate beyond that because of the enforcement component. The government is instead giving out 6 million free N95 masks to encourage people to wear them indoors.

Faifield is also set to receive a shipment of free masks from the state.

Kupchick said the health department is advising people to continue to take the necessary precautions and encouraged people to get vaccinated because those who are unvaccinated are more vulnerable. Vaccinated people are also showing less severe symptoms.

“We all know what we need to do — wash our hands, take care of yourselves, if you’re not feeling well stay away from other people and make sure you’re not exposing,” she said, adding this is especially true because what someone thinks are allergies could actually be COVID.

She said the number of cases in South Africa where the omicron variant was first reported, have plateaued and hopefully that will soon be seen in the U.S. and Fairfield too.