Governors Ned Lamont, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey.
Govs. Andrew M. Cuomo and Ned Lamont outside the Executive Residence in Hartford. mark Pazniokas / ctmirror.org

Gov. Ned Lamont will co-chair a National Governors Association task force on pandemic and disaster response, an appointment made by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the NGA chair and a close collaborator in crafting a regional response to COVID-19.

New York, Connecticut and New Jersey were among the states hardest hit by the coronavirus that took root in New York City, which has suffered 310 deaths per 100,000 people, a per-capita death rate higher than any state. 

“Our state was hit early and hit hard by this pandemic. Throughout this unprecedented crisis, I have worked with my neighboring governors to ensure our responses were coordinated,” Lamont said in a statement Wednesday.

Lamont, a Democrat who just began his third year as governor, has worked with neighboring governors on a regional approach to a number of issues outside the pandemic, most notably seeking a common approach to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

Governors in the northeast and west began organizing regional responses to COVID, largely due to frustration with the Trump administration’s uneven response, especially in the early months when President Donald Donald J. Trump downplayed the risk.

With President Joe Biden promising a strong federal role, it is now unclear how active the governors will be independent of the federal government.

Lamont was quick to declare a public health emergency in Connecticut once the virus was detected, and the state’s adherence to mask-wearing and social distancing rules was credited with driving down an initial outbreak.

As measured since early last year, Connecticut’s per-capita infection rate has dropped to 39th among all states. Over the past seven days, it has been 16th with 69.8 daily cases, compared to a national average of 65.3.

But the state struggled to control the spread in nursing homes. In the early months of the pandemic, Connecticut’s per-capita death rate from COVID was among the highest after New Jersey and New York. 

Connecticut has completed a first round of vaccinations at all its nursing homes and is now focused on inoculating everyone 75 and older. About 70% of all people whose deaths have been attributed to COVID in Connecticut were at least 75.

With 184 deaths per 100,000, Connecticut now ranks sixth after New Jersey (230), Massachusetts (197), Rhode Island (189), South Dakota (187) and Mississippi (187) and just ahead of North Dakota (181) and Louisiana (176.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker site lists deaths from New York City and the rest of New York separately. Outside of New York City, the state’s per-capita death rate is 132.

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Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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