HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Gov. Ned Lamont won’t push for lawmakers to renew executive orders requiring certain state employees and teachers to either get vaccinated or tested for COVID-19.
Lamont said Thursday those mandates aren’t among the 11 mandates he’s recommending the General Assembly extend when his emergency powers expire on Feb. 15.
Both the large number of people who’ve gotten vaccinated and the “significant administrative burden” placed on state agencies and schools to regularly test unvaccinated staff were cited Thursday as reasons for ending those rules
“At this point, the overwhelming majority of our state employees are vaccinated,” Lamont said on Thursday. “With that mandate in place, we got a lot of people vaccinated at the last moment.”
Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, credited the mandate with boosting vaccination rates by about 10 to 15%.
“But that increase has really flattened off,” Geballe said. “The significant administrative burden on our agencies and on the schools to administer that ongoing weekly testing regimen — to chase the people who are chronically late getting their test results in — you know, it’s run its course. It’s not a sufficient value anymore.”
Geballe said the vaccination mandate requiring long-term care staff in Connecticut, as well people who work in state-run hospitals, will continue. That’s in parallel with the vaccination mandate imposed by the Connecticut Hospital Association and its members.
“We’re talking about everything else: the state employees that have the test-out option, as well as the educators, K-12, early childhood,” Geballe said.
Lamont held a virtual meeting with leaders of the General Assembly on Wednesday to discuss the looming expiration of his civil preparedness and public health emergency declarations, which have been extended multiple times since March 2020. He provided a list of 11 orders he is recommending state legislators extend, including a rule requiring unvaccinated people age 2 and above to wear a mask indoors in certain settings. The other orders include the required vaccination of long-term care workers, the modification of state contracting rules to make it easier to purchase items in an emergency, and required insurance coverage for out-of-network COVID-19 vaccinations.
On Thursday, Lamont said if legislators can’t make a decision by Feb. 15 on what to do with each order, they can “just renew everything for 30 or 60 days” and given themselves “time to get it right.”
House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, said lawmakers need the governor to further clarify what he’s looking for from the General Assembly, which convenes on Feb. 9.
“To me, it’s a little confusing that he wants to be nimble, but he’s willing to codify these executive orders, which is going to make them carry the weight of law and they’re are no longer going to be nimble,” Candelora said. “And I’m not sure whether or not he wants an extension of this emergency powers, I mean, that’s where there’s not clarity.”