HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont called on the Connecticut National Guard Thursday in preparation for state agency staff shortages across the state due to non-compliance with the now-extended COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline.
All state employees must show proof of vaccination by 11:59 p.m. Monday or agree to be tested weekly, otherwise, they will be placed on unpaid leave.
Paul Mounds, the governor’s chief of staff, explained, “We do have some workers that are in the healthcare space as part of the executive order that it’s mandatory vaccination but for those other related agencies we feel that’s extremely fair and it’s much fairer than what’s going on in other states in other counties across the country.”
Lamont has instructed Major General Francis Evon to begin planning for the Connecticut National Guard activation. Lamont’s office reported, “the National Guard may be deployed under state active duty to support operations until replacement employees can be hired or non-compliant employees come into compliance.”
Major David Pytlik with the Connecticut National Guard told News 8, “At this time, we haven’t been asked to support any particular function, but we will continue to monitor and prepare as necessary”
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 20,000 employees, (63 percent), have indicated they are fully vaccinated. There are nearly 4,000, (12 percent), that will do weekly testing.
“I continue to remain optimistic that our employees will submit their testing and vaccination information quickly,” Lamont said. “But as we have done throughout the pandemic, we will prepare for the worst to prevent impacts to the critical services the state provides. The health and safety of our employees and the people of Connecticut remain our top priority. We have provided most state employees with the option to get tested weekly instead of getting vaccinated, providing more flexibility than our neighboring states. We have also provided our employees with a compliance grace period. There is no reason all our employees should not be in compliance. I continue to count on state employees to lead by example and to respect their co-workers and the public by complying with this executive order, which is the law.”
According to Lamont’s office, just over 8,000, (25 percent), are still in non-compliant status. His office says that’s a reduction of over 2,000 in the past two days.
The National Guard released a statement saying:
Connecticut National Guard members have stepped up to support this state throughout this pandemic in capacities ranging from skilled nursing facility inspection to distributing food to those in need to delivering PPE to health districts and first responders. Now, in this phase of the pandemic, we potentially may need to support critical activities.
Typically, this is to protect life/limb/eyesight and property, but the last two years have taught us to be flexible and that we may be called upon to support the state in new ways. We, in concert with our other agencies and the Governor’s office, are closely monitoring critical sectors and key positions that may be affected by a labor shortage and we are looking at options for filling in critical capability gaps.
At this time, we haven’t been asked to support any particular function, but we will continue to monitor and prepare as necessary. As an organization we have a variety of different types of units and our members have a variety of different civilian skill sets.”
State employees have until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 4 to provide proof of vaccination or compliance with weekly testing requirements. If they fail to do this, they will be placed on unpaid leave as soon as Tuesday, Oct. 5, but no later than Monday, Oct. 11.