Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Thursday he plans to order nursing home workers and contractors with significant contact with residents to get a vaccine booster shot by Feb. 11, noting the state's increasing COVID-19 infection rate among staff.
The order, which the Democrat was expected to sign Thursday evening, will also apply to staff at other long-term care facilities, including assisted living and residential care homes and the 3,600 state employees who work at state-run chronic care hospitals, such as Connecticut Valley Hospital and Whiting Forensic Hospital.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Hospital Association announced it was amending its statewide mandatory vaccination policy for hospital and health system workers and clinical staff, requiring them to also get a booster shot. Other private hospital systems elsewhere in the U.S., including in the Boston area, have required the additional dose.
Connecticut is among the first states to impose such a mandate for nursing home employees. In California, roughly 2.5 million healthcare workers have until Feb. 1 to get a coronavirus vaccine booster shot or risk losing their jobs. New Mexico has also required workers in certain categories to receive a booster shot.
New data released Thursday show there were 2,148 staff cases of COVID-19 from Dec. 22 to Jan. 4, up from 242 from Dec. 8 to Dec. 21. Meanwhile, the number of resident cases increased from 136 to 829 over the same period. There were 26 resident deaths over the past month but no staff fatalities.
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Lamont predicted "dramatic dividends" will result from requiring the nursing home workers and others to get a third dose.
"That would open up capacity in our hospitals make it easier for us to transfer people from the hospitals into the nursing homes," he said.
Dr. Deirdre Gifford, a health adviser to Lamont and the Department of Social Services commissioner, said employees affected by the governor's new executive order will not have the ability to take a test as an alternative.