Early data shows about 19,000 of Connecticut's roughly 32,000 state employees who work for executive branch agencies are fully vaccinated, a figure that's expected to change over the coming days, state officials announced Wednesday.
Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, said about 3,000 of those 19,000 workers are unvaccinated but completed necessary COVID-19 testing, while more than 10,000 have not completed submitting their information. Geballe cautioned that many of those people appear to be vaccinated but had filing issues, including difficulties uploading their information to a third-party app.
Both he and Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said they're also optimistic more people will decide to get vaccinated in the coming days as state officials continue to sort through workers' paperwork.
The administration is now giving the state employees until the end of the day on Oct. 4 to fully comply with Lamont's executive order. It requires state employees and staff of all childcare facilities and pre K-12 schools statewide to receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 27 or else submit weekly testing results or requests for religious or medical exemptions. Those with religious or medical exemptions still have to provide weekly tests.
Lamont said those state employees who won’t get vaccinated or tested will be put on unpaid leave. According to his order, they will not be allowed on the premises of the state agency they work for until they provide adequate proof of compliance or prior written authorization from their agency.
“That’s a little ways off right now,” Lamont said.
In other coronavirus-related news in Connecticut:
YALE NEW HAVEN HEALTH WORKERS
Yale New Haven Health expects to dismiss more than 100 employees who have failed to meet the health care system's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Dr. Thomas Balcezak, the system's chief clinical officer, told reporters Tuesday that about 400 of the Yale New Haven Health's 30,0000 workers have not received a shot or an exemption in advance of Friday's deadline.
Balcezak said Yale New Haven Health will send out verbal warnings to unvaccinated employees this week, which could be escalated to written warnings next week and termination by Oct. 18.
He estimates that eventually “at least 100” workers will be let go. He said most of the unvaccinated employees are from environmental services, food services or the system's financial office, He said very few are doctors, nurses or other licensed professionals.
He said those who receive termination notices will be given a chance to change their minds.
“If they want to get themselves vaccinated, they’re welcome to come back,” he said. “Our goal is not to have employees terminated from our organization.”
All of Connecticut's major hospitals have instituted vaccine mandates and the state is requiring vaccines for workers at state-run hospitals, including UConn's John Dempsey Hospital.
Hartford HealthCare, which is requiring vaccines by the end of this week, said in a statement that 97% of its employees have received at least one dose. Trinity Health of New England said its compliance rate is at 95%.
“We have been working diligently to help our colleagues come to the decision that is right for them, and hope all of our colleagues make the choice to stay within our organization,” Dr. Ajay Kumar, Hartford HealthCare’s chief clinical officer, said in a statement.
The governor announced Wednesday that he is directing nearly $10 million in federal coronavirus funding to support Connecticut’s dairy and aquaculture industries, which experienced significant market disruptions during the pandemic.
Lamont said additional state funds will be used to purchase Connecticut-grown food for distribution to those experiencing food insecurity. He said he also will extend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at farmers markets.
Speaking at a dairy farm Wednesday the governor said the state has invested a total of $10.3 million during the pandemic for farmers and food access in Connecticut. He said that money will keep Foodshare distribution open through at least the end of October.