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Suspensions loom, but more workers meeting vaccine mandates

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hundreds of Connecticut workers face the possibility of unpaid leave for failing to meet Gov. Ned Lamont’s Monday deadline to comply with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

Lamont told CNN that he expects the number to be far below the 3,000 workers reported Sunday to have either failed to get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to a testing regimen for the virus.

“The overwhelming majority (are) vaccinated, getting back to work or testing,” he said.

Lamont last week ordered the Connecticut National Guard to be on standby, should they be needed to ensure critical public health and safety needs are met in the event of a larger worker shortage.

“I don’t think it’s going to be necessary, though,” he said.

About 32,000 employees who work in executive branch agencies are affected by the order, which does not apply to the legislative or judicial branches. The governor has said unpaid suspensions could start Tuesday and would go into effect no later than Oct. 11.

The state’s labor unions have asked for a 20-day extension.

“I’m fully vaxxed and submitted my information months ago, but the state keeps telling me I am not in compliance,” Steve Anderson, president of CSEA-SEIU, Local 2001, said in a statement. “The governor plans to disrupt services and put soldiers to work in state worksites when the real problem is short staffing combined with a poorly executed compliance system.”

Several private health care systems also had recent deadlines for their employees to be vaccinated or show proof they were being regularly tested for the virus.

Officials at Hartford HealthCare said that like the state, it is still analyzing the data, with many employees choosing to wait until just before the Oct. 1 deadline to submit their paperwork.

But Dr. Ajay Kumar, that system’s chief clinical officer, said it believes 99% of employees are in compliance, leaving about 300 facing suspensions.

“We remain hopeful that people will choose to stay in health care and with Hartford HealthCare,” he said.


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