HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont’s office announced Tuesday there has been “significant progress” made in the number of state employees who have complied with his executive orders requiring certain workers to comply with a COVID-19 vaccination or to weekly testing.
As of noon, about 1,200 executive branch employees, or 4%, had not yet submitted their required documentation. It was due as of 11:59 p.m. Monday.
“The state continues to make significant progress in compliance with the executive orders requiring either COVID-19 vaccination or weekly texting among executive branch state employees,” Lamont’s office said in a written statement.
State human resources staff were contacting workers who were still identified as noncompliant on Tuesday afternoon to determine why they had not yet submitted their documentation and to correct any potential errors for employees whose submissions were not accurately recorded.
“At this point, Governor Lamont does not anticipate needing to activate the Connecticut National Guard to respond to possible staffing shortages for those agencies that provide critical health and safety services, as he previously announced was under consideration,” according to a statement released by Lamont’s office.
As of noon, about 23,600, or 78% of about 32,000 affected state employees, were fully vaccinated; about 5,500 or 18% were unvaccinated but submitted the required weekly testing; and about 1,200 or 4% had not yet submitted their documentation. The number of state employees identified as noncompliant has declined dramatically since Thursday, when there were 8,000.
State employee union leaders said Tuesday that there were problems with the system to upload the information. Carl Chisem, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent or CEUI, said he recently tried to help some of his union members at one of the state’s colleges who had trouble using the third-party app.
“We spent an hour trying to get on it,” he said.
The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which includes leaders of various state employee unions, has asked for an extension, concerned that some employees who have submitted the necessary information were erroneously identified as noncompliant and at risk being placed on unpaid leave.
Union leaders said Tuesday that Lamont’s order and how it has been handled have exacerbated staffing shortages in many state agencies that existed even before the pandemic.
“We absolutely need the state to inject resources in terms of permanent staff within certain state agencies, within the public sector and in particular within health care treatment facilities and agencies to meet the ongoing and acute needs of the population,” said Rob Baril, president of New England Health Care Employees Union, District 1199 SEIU.
The governor’s executive orders apply only to the executive branch employees. The judicial branch is following a similar process and timeline, while the legislative branch is developing similar requirements.