Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters Friday he planned no new COVID mandates.
Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters Friday he planned no new COVID mandates.

Gov. Ned Lamont said Friday he has no plans to impose new mandates on wearing masks or showing evidence of vaccination, instead promoting the coming availability of a voluntary “digital health card” offering proof of vaccination.

“What I want to do is get that digital health card and make it available to every single business, restaurant, store. Let them make the right decision in terms of allowing people into their facility,” Lamont said. “I don’t think we need more mandates than that.”

Connecticut on Friday reported 3,280 new COVID-19 infections detected in 53,948 tests, up from 2,679 infections found in 41,361 tests the previous day. The positivity rate was slightly higher than 6% both days.

COVID hospitalizations have climbed quickly, then showed some signs of stabilizing in recent days.

“We’re following that carefully. And I was, frankly, a little surprised we went from 200 to 550, just in the last few weeks.”

Hospitalizations for COVID increased by nine to 585 on Friday, well within the capacity of the hospitals and far below the peak of 2,000 in 2020. They increased by just one the previous day.

“So we do have a good capacity in our hospitals. They continue to maintain the elective  surgeries,” Lamont said. “But you remember a year and a half ago, we had to throttle some of those elective surgeries back. That’s what I really want to avoid.”

Nationally, the daily average of infections, hospitalizations and deaths have increased, respectively, by 30%, 21% and 18% over the past 14 days, according to tracking by the New York Times.

The governor has required state employees and workers in long-term care facilities to be vaccinated. The state employees can opt instead for weekly testing.

He has ordered the wearing of masks in schools. Elsewhere, masks are not required of vaccinated persons, though venues and municipalities can require them.

“I think the towns are the ones that are taking the lead on enforcing it,” Lamont said. “I think the store and restaurant owners are the ones who know… how to enforce it, the best way to do it. I’m getting them all the tools they need, once we get the digital card available.”

On Monday night, Lamont assured the Connecticut Restaurant Association at its annual dinner he had no plans to ban or restrict indoor dining, as he did in the first surge of infections before vaccines were available.

 “You’re staying open,” Lamont said, speaking in a ballroom packed with 1,100 people, few wearing masks.  “We’re keeping this open. We’re getting through this together. And I’m looking forward to going to each and every one of your restaurants as soon as I can.”

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.