DPH Not Convinced of New CIAC Football Strategies; Lamont Says Safer to Put Season off Til February

During his Monday press conference, Governor Lamont said the decision on interscholastic fall football would rest with local districts to be “community led.”

“While I really wanted schools to open, I left that up to local jurisdictions, local superintendents,” he said. “My same feeling is …when it comes to football.”

Earlier in day the Dept of Public Health acting commissioner Deidre Gifford sent a letter to CIAC’s executive director Glenn Lungarini, saying that after the meeting her dept had with CIAC on Friday they really had not changed their position on the risk of playing traditional football.

On Friday the CIAC’s safety proposals included the use of plastic shields that attach to the helmet and a cloth covering over the front grill portion of the football helmet.

The letter said the Health Dept still did not think there was scientific information that those strategies would prevent the spread of respiratory droplets among players, or that those measures were safe for high school players to use during play.

Nor could we assert that they would change the categorization of full contact football from ‘higher risk’ to ‘moderate risk,'” Gifford wrote.

“Deirdre and all our health care folks and the National Federation of State High School Associations have all said football is high risk,” Lamont said Monday afternoon, adding that the health commissioner strongly recommended football season be moved to spring.

“That said, the final decision will be made by CIAC, probably with local input from coaches, and maybe parents and superintendents, I hope very soon,” he said.

“You may say, what’s the difference? why put it off until spring? What’s going to be different? I think it could be a world of difference where it’s much safer. Not only are we through the risk of the colleges, but we’re also through the bulk of the flu season. Hopefully we’ll have that five minute Abbott Lab test. Hopefully we’ll have some new therapies that are in the offing.”

Governor Ned Lamont, Monday, Sept 14, 2020

“I think it’s reasonable to assume we’ll be in a much better position to prevent, stem and hold down Covid in February than we are in September,” he added. “That said, I understand all the concerns around vaccines.”

“I’m proud of all the pharmaceutical companies who have said the CDC may be operating ‘Operation warp speed,’ but we’re going to be careful. We’re not going to get this released until it’s absolutely safe. And we can get that broadly tested before it’s available to the general population.”

Lamont introduced a system of fines to enforce Covid protocols.

“This is following the lead of our municipalities saying we need a little more leverage,” he said, adding that businesses will be responsible for their employees and individuals will be responsible for their own behavior.

“We’re going to institute a series of fines for Covid related violations: $100 for violating the mask order, $500 for organizing an event that exceeds the limits of (size of 25 indoors and 100 outdoors), or $250 for attending that event.”

  • A $100 fine for failing to wear a mask or cloth face covering (see Executive Order 7NNN requiring face covering).
  • A $250 fine for individualsfor attending a gathering exceeding size limits (100 people outdoor/25 indoor)
  • A $500 fine for any person or business entity for organizing, hosting, or sponsoring a gathering exceeding size limits

He said he hoped the ability to exercise enforcement would give local health departments and local municipal officials some leverage.

“If you have to count, get out,” he advised, adding that Connecticut is introducing the fines in conjunction with neighboring states.

There was a question from Fox 61 asking Governor Lamont if he would block the effort of semi pro football programs on the east coast offering to help families to set up a private club league for high school players as an alternative to losing the fall high school season.

The Governor repeated that sports boiled down to a local decision.

“This next two or three months is really important,” he added. “I think it’s much safer if that season is put off to February.”

See also:

GHS Football Parent: 35 states have proceeded with their seasons; Let them play

After Massive Protest in Hartford, CIAC & DPH to Reconsider How to Play Football Safely

CT High School Football Players Appeal to Governor, Dept of Health: “Let Us Play”