Dept. of Public Health Commissioner's Nomination Clears Key Committee Vote

NBC Connecticut

Dr. Manisha Juthani’s nomination for commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Public Health, a job she has held since September, cleared a key committee vote Thursday.

House members on the General Assembly’s Executive and Legislative Nominations Committee voted 7-1 in favor of her appointment, sending it to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Democratic members of the committee lauded Juthani, an infectious disease expert, for taking on the job of DPH commissioner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Juthani took a public service leave of absence from her job as associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine and of epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health after her nomination by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.

“I salute you. I don’t know anybody who was stronger than you during this pandemic to say yes, I will do this,” said Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport. “I appreciate you stepping up.”

Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, cast the sole vote against Juthani. He raised concerns during Thursday’s public hearing about a misstatement the acting commissioner made in December when a promised order of three million COVID-19 at-home tests fell through.

At a news conference, Juthani told reporters “we were given pictures and confirmation that the product was being loaded and on the way. Those were misrepresented to us.”

Juthani acknowledged Thursday she had not personally seen any pictures, which ultimately did not exist, but had been told photos are provided whenever the state makes such a large purchase to confirm the accuracy of the order.

“So I certainly did not intend to mislead anybody,” she said. “I communicated what had been relayed to me, which is that when such a big purchase is done, we ask for photos. Which is what I suggested.”

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