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Unvaccinated and noncompliant, some Connecticut state workers are now on unpaid leave

A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared at the New York State drive-thru vaccination site at Plattsburgh International Airport.
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Ninety-eight percent of state employees had complied with Governor Ned Lamont’s COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate as of Thursday.

Lamont said the 671 executive branch employees who are holdouts could face unpaid leave beginning Friday.

“I don’t want to lay anybody off. I don’t want anybody going on unpaid leave. I want everyone working and working safely. So we are trying to reach out and make sure there are no errors,” Lamont said. “But at the end of the day it’s been over a month now — people had a chance to make this right. And at some point we’ve got to hold people accountable if you refuse to get vaccinated and refuse to test.”

Those placed on unpaid leave would have their jobs held for 45 days. They are not eligible for unemployment benefits. But they would be allowed to return to state service after the 45 days, if they are fully vaccinated or agree to weekly COVID-19 tests.

“After a little bit of unpaid furlough you want to come back, you get vaccinated, tested, whatever it might be. If it goes on longer than that we are going to have to hire someone to fill your job because there is a real need. We can’t go without,” Lamont said.

Workers from the departments of education, economic development and mental health had the lowest rates of compliance.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.