Sean Pavone Photography

Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday he has directed state agency heads and the National Guard to prepare for the absence of employees who fail to comply next week with a COVID-19 vaccination-or-test mandate.

The governor’s public statement was aimed at nudging employees to complete filings about their vaccination or testing status and preparing the public for the possibility of disruptions in state services.

Executive branch employees have until 11:59 p.m. Monday to provide proof of  vaccination or testing. As of Thursday afternoon, about 75% were in compliance, with 63% fully vaccinated and 12% getting weekly COVID tests.

As soon as Tuesday and no later than Oct. 11, non-compliant workers will be placed on unpaid leave.

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

About 2,000 employees reported their status in the past two days, leaving officials optimistic of a surge in compliance.

Lamont’s order applies to 32,000 executive branch employees. With 20,000 vaccinated and 4,000 in a testing regimen, that leaves 8,000 employees whose status is undeclared.

The administration is not expected to provide agency breakdowns until next week. Of most concern are the agencies that provide direct health, child protection and public safety functions.

Some agencies already are thin-staffed, most notably the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, which staffs two psychiatric hospitals, Connecticut Valley and Whiting Forensic.

The state also runs the Connecticut Veterans Home and Hospital, with 180 hospital beds and 483 residential beds.

Lamont said he has directed Maj. Gen. Francis Evon to plan for the possible activation of the National Guard to provide support for critical health and safety functions until replacement workers are hired or holdouts comply.

Max Reiss, the communications director for the governor, acknowledged the announcement had multiple audiences and purposes.

“We are setting expectations regarding what things look like if we see significant levels of non-compliance,” Reiss said. “By sending out something like this, it sets a fire under people to make sure they are either signed up for the testing option or they are verifying their vaccination status.”

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.