City of Danbury removes indoor mask mandate


Aahil Nishad

Danbury City Hall, November 2021

Aahil Nishad, Staff Writer

As of Oct. 15, Mayor Joseph Cavo lifted the indoor mask mandate for fully vaccinated persons. The mandate was not lifted for people that are not fully vaccinated or people that are unable to provide proof of vaccination, and also remains in place for Danbury Public Schools. 

This follows the Aug. 5th alteration to Executive Order 13A made by Governor Lamont, which allowed municipal leaders to decide whether to implement mandatory indoor mask requirements. Order 13A had originally outlined the governor’s decision to reinstate the mandate after the surge of the Delta variant in mid-2021, which was now delegated to the opinions of local leaders. 

“It kinda scares me,” said Jose Barbiere, a senior at Danbury High School. “I don’t feel like [the virus situation] has been controlled enough….I’m pretty sure we are going to have a spike in cases.”

As of Nov. 17, Fairfield County retains the third-highest COVID-19 case rate, with a 12,300 case rate per 100,000 tested individuals in the state of CT. Additionally, the City of Danbury has a positive rate of 5-9 positives per 100,000 tested individuals, although the number of testings have significantly decreased as guidelines and public fear began to subside. 

As of Nov. 23, 71% of 12-17 year olds in Danbury are fully vaccinated, while cities such as Waterbury have only 48% of the 12-17 year old demographic fully vaccinated. 

Barbiere stated: “I don’t think that it is at a comfortable point in which masks should be removed…I feel like masks should be removed once we reach around 90 percent.”

Additionally, another major issue facing Danbury High School is the sheer number of students attending the school. The school has run out of classrooms, as a majority of teachers are now forced to share classrooms in order to accommodate the rising student population, and this only increases the potential for COVID to spread. 

“[DHS] is just so crowded, with so many tight spaces and people,” added Christine Riter, a social studies teacher at Danbury High School. “We should follow what the scientists are saying [in regards to mask mandates for schools]. ”

Out of 24 people surveyed on their opinions of a potential date that DHS should remove mask mandates for indoor events, a wide majority opted that DHS would need to have a different policy from other CT schools and that the fully vaccinated threshold should rise to 90+ percent, inclusive of students and faculty.

However, the new Omicron variant of the Coronavirus seems to pose a new obstacle to a potentially maskless Danbury High School. The State of New York has already issued a State of Emergency prior to any confirmation of the Omicron variant in the region, and the US Department of State has also added travel restrictions for arrivals from various southern African nations.

Riter commented on this: “We should wait and see if [Danbury should] bring the mask mandate back, we need to protect others and enrich the learning experience of our students… but I would understand the need for a mask mandate.”