Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, D, has put his state's National Guard on alert, telling them to plan on active deployments to replace state workers he is set to cut from the payroll for refusing to comply with his COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Lamont warned Thursday that state agencies need to prepare for staffing shortages next week, when nearly a quarter of state workers face being placed on unpaid leave if they remain in "non-compliant status" of his dictate requiring them to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing for the coronavirus.
"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.
"We have provided most state employees with the option to get tested weekly instead of getting vaccinated, providing more flexibility than our neighboring states," the governor said. "We have also provided our employees with a compliance grace period."
"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."
According to the state's latest numbers, 63% of Connecticut state employees — more than 20,000 — have provided the necessary documentation to prove they have been vaccinated, while another 4,000 have begun their weekly testing. Meanwhile, 8,000 workers, roughly 25% of the state's employees, are thus far not getting in line with the dictate.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut National Guard says members are ready to step in and do the jobs of the state employees who continue to hold out and end up being placed on leave.
"Connecticut National Guard members have stepped up to support this state throughout this pandemic in capacities ranging from skilled nursing facility inspection to distributing food to those in need to delivering PPE to health districts and first responders," the Guard said in a statement. "Now, in this phase of the pandemic, we potentially may need to support critical activities."
"We, in concert with our other agencies and the Governor’s office, are closely monitoring critical sectors and key positions that may be affected by a labor shortage and we are looking at options for filling in critical capability gaps," the statement read.
Lamont is at least the second governor in the nation to threaten to call up the National Guard to replace employees who refuse their chief executive's coronavirus orders.
Over the weekend, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, D, became the first to announce she would use National Guard members to replace thousands of health care workers in the state who face termination for not getting vaccinated by Hochul's deadline earlier this week.