Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont on Monday defended his plans to relax Covid restrictions in the state starting next week, telling CNBC that he believes a drop in new infections and vaccine distribution supports such a move.

“We have the vast majority of our most vulnerable populations who have now been vaccinated. That’s 65 and over and the majority of people 55 and over,” Lamont said in Squawk on the Street. “That is where all of the deaths took place, that is where 98% of hospital stays took place. So we are pretty confident that March 19th is a good time when we can continue the reopening.”

Half of Connecticut’s residents aged 55 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, including three-quarters of the state’s people who are 75 years of age and older. This is based on data made available on Monday. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines require two vaccinations, while Johnson & Johnson’s is a single vaccine.

According to the latest state data, Connecticut has recorded 7,725 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began. Of these deaths, 7,555 were people aged 50 and over, with the majority being at least 80 years old.

Democrat Lamont last week announced his intention to lift a number of Connecticut-era pandemic-time restrictions beginning March 19, including lifting capacity restrictions on restaurants, hair salons and churches. A nationwide mask mandate remains in place and Lamont continues to limit capacity for some companies, e.g. B. 50% for cinemas and performing arts venues.

Still, Lamont’s decision marks a significant step in the pandemic for the state, which, along with New York and New Jersey, was among the hardest hit during the first wave of Covid last spring.

Some leaders in other states have gone further than Lamont. Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott said on Twitter last week that his state was “100% OPEN” after lifting business restrictions and a mask mandate.

Public health experts have urged Americans not to complain about self-mitigation measures, even though the daily case numbers have fallen sharply from their January peak. In the case of newly emerging virus variants in particular, they warn that loosening them too much could in some cases lead to an increase again.

In a CNN interview on Thursday, White House chief medical officer Dr. Anthony Fauci said it was “inexplicable” to reset all public health guidelines as the number of new infections in the country was still too high.

Lamont said the goal of trying to relax capacity constraints is “to emphasize what works”.

“Masks work. Six feet of distancing,” Lamont said. “The difference between 75% and 100% in a restaurant is very difficult to enforce anyway and we thought, frankly, we have a very low infection rate and a lot of capacity in our hospitals right now. This was the time to make the change.”