Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont asked the National Guard on Thursday to be ready to help provide critical state services as a deadline looms for state workers to meet his COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

State employees have until 11:59 p.m. on Monday to provide proof of vaccination or compliance with weekly testing requirements if they are not vaccinated.

The governor's office said those who don't meet the mandate will be placed on unpaid leave as soon as Tuesday and no later than Monday, October 11.

“I continue to remain optimistic that our employees will submit their testing and vaccination information quickly,” Lamont said in a statement. “But as we have done throughout the pandemic, we will prepare for the worst to prevent impacts to the critical services the state provides."

Just over 8,000 state employees had not complied with the mandate as of Thursday afternoon, the governor's office said. That represents about 25% of the state workforce. The number of non-compliant state workers has dropped by 2,000 over the past two days, Lamont's office said.

“There is no reason all our employees should not be in compliance,” Lamont said. "I continue to count on state employees to lead by example and to respect their co-workers and the public by complying with this executive order, which is the law.”

Lamont said should the mandate lead to severe worker shortages, he will activate the Guard to support critical health and safety services in the state until replacement employees can be hired or employees comply with the mandate.

The news comes as Lamont's office released numbers showing that 53 people died in Connecticut over the past week from causes related to COVID-19.

That brings the state death toll during the pandemic to 8,629, a number which also reflects the addition of 93 deaths that occurred among Connecticut residents who died out of state during the pandemic. Most of those deaths occurred during 2020, the governor's office said.

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