A dozen recently hired Connecticut state employees lost their jobs Friday after they refused to comply with Gov. Ned Lamont's order to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.

Max Reiss, the Democratic governor's spokesperson, said that number is expected to grow. He said the administration “has been clear about the consequences” of not complying with Lamont's mandate announced on Aug. 19, stressing that the governor did not want to see people face termination.

“We reached out to them more than once, said, 'You get vaccinated or you get tested. If you say no, you can’t work here. It’s unsafe,'" Lamont told reporter during an event about transportation in Windsor Locks.

The 12 staff members were still in their six-month probationary period. Therefore, they didn't have the same job protections as more veteran state employees who are intentionally non-compliant with Lamont's order. Those workers, the number of which is still being determined, will be placed on unpaid leave for up to 45 days or until they agree to get vaccinated or tested weekly. Their positions will not be filled during that time.

Lamont said state officials are currently reaching out to those state employees and contractors to give them “one more chance” over the coming days to “play by the rules” and get vaccinated or tested.

“Otherwise, you can't work for us now. It doesn't work," he said.

Both Lamont and Reiss said they did not where the 12 former state employees had worked in the executive branch. Lamont, however, said they were spread out among multiple agencies.

As of Thursday, 671 state employees were considered to be noncompliant, which represents 2.2% of the roughly 32,000 people who work for executive branch agencies and are affected by the mandate. Lamont said that figure has since dropped and estimated greater than 98% of the employees have complied.

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