Thousands of Connecticut state employees are still non-compliant with the Covid-19 vaccine mandate as the deadline approaches tonight.
State employees have through the end of the day on Monday, Oct. 4, to provide proof of vaccination or for those who are exempt, get tested weekly.
State officials said as of Monday afternoon 23,000 employees, or 76%, of state employees are now fully vaccinated and 5,000, or 17%, will receive weekly testing. That leaves around 2,200 workers, or 7%, still non-compliant with the order.
"Some of those are inadvertent and we treat them with leniency. Some of those are defiant just won’t do it and they’ve gotta go home," Gov. Ned Lamont said.
“We remain very optimistic that by the end of the day on Monday we'll be in good shape, but we have to plan in case we do have disruptions that we're prepared to continue to provide those critical public safety and public health functions that are required," said Josh Geballe, the governor's Chief Operating Officer, said Sunday.
The executive order Governor Ned Lamont issued requires all Connecticut state employees, childcare staff and staff of PreK-12 schools statewide to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and for people who are exempt to be tested on a weekly basis.
"No employer should mandate the injection of a vaccine into somebody's body and that’s a pretty strong sentiment of our members, but that’s not the case here," said Andy Matthews of the Connecticut State Police Union.
Matthews said the governor's requirements are not really a vaccine mandate.
"Here in Connecticut we’re fortunate that it’s really a mandated testing option," he added.
The state will pay for the first four weeks of testing for those approved for that weekly testing.
On Friday, the State Employees Bargaining Coalition (SEBAC), which is the union for state employees, sent a letter to Lamont requesting a 20-day extension and said these employees are providing essential services at unprecedented short staffing levels.
Anyone who chooses not to be in compliance by the end of the day on Monday could face being put on unpaid leave, according to Geballe.
Those employees could be put on unpaid leave as early as Tuesday, Oct. 5, but no later than Monday, Oct. 11, as last minute paperwork comes in, he added.
The governor has directed Major General Francis Evon to plan for an activation of the Connecticut National Guard to fill in at agencies that provide critical health and safety services, if necessary. That activation would last until enough employees are compliant or new employees can be hired.
The mandate only applies to employees in the executive branch, not in the judicial or legislative.