Gov. Ned Lamont at a hospital in Stamford on Jan. 3, when COVID cases were surging. s MARK PAZNIOKAS / CTMIRROR.ORG

Legislative leaders said Wednesday night that Gov. Ned Lamont will not seek an extension of his executive order requiring state employees to either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.

His decision takes one of his more controversial orders off the table as the governor and lawmakers negotiate new rules for managing the pandemic after the expiration of his emergency powers on Feb. 15. He temporarily suspended the testing requirement before Christmas.

Legislative leaders and the governor talked privately Wednesday in a video call about 11 executive orders he would like to stay in force, rather than extend the sweeping powers available under a state of emergency first declared on March 10, 2020.

“The governor at this time is focused on providing a list of executive orders that will allow him to keep the overall safety and response to this emergency crisis,” said Paul Mounds, the governor’s chief of staff.

As to which orders no longer are deemed necessary, Mounds deferred to the governor, who will be holding a video press conference on COVID late Thursday afternoon.
Lamont, administration officials and legislative leaders of both parties talked Wednesday afternoon for an hour, ending the call without a definite path forward.

“My position is voting on the 11 orders is easy. If you want us to vote on them, we’ll vote on them,” said House Minority Leader Vincent J. Candelora, R-North Branford. “But the tougher question is: What are we doing after this? And that’s where things kind of fell apart.”

Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said, “Talks are ongoing, and a clearer picture will develop very soon.”

Infections and hospitalizations in Connecticut continued to fall Wednesday, mirroring a trend in New Jersey and New York that suggests that the current surge has peaked.

“If that’s the case, it’s a very different conversation than we first had as a caucus 14 days ago, when the positivity rate was over 20%,” said House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford.

Connecticut’s positivity rate was 16% Wednesday, down from 24% last week.

Hospitalizations fell by another 14 to 1,805. But there still were 4,745 new infections, and epidemiologists warn that the virus will remain a public health challenge to be managed for months to come.

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.