New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)

Lamont: State may help companies comply with Biden vaccine order

- By Julia Bergman Staff writer Nick Rondinone contribute­d to this story. julia.bergman@hearstmedi­

As Connecticu­t companies face a looming federal vaccine mandate, Gov. Ned Lamont said the state is looking at technology that would enable businesses to validate whether an employee is immunized against COVID-19.

Lamont brought up the idea at a tourism event in Rocky Hill Monday, indicating the applicatio­n developed by the state would be aimed at companies that fall under President Joe Biden’s recently announced employee vaccine mandate. That declaratio­n, with rules yet to be issued, applies to employers with at least

100 people and federal suppliers; it would allow for regular COVID-19 testing for workers unwilling or unable to be vaccinated.

“To make it easier on businesses we should have some sort of a validation system,” the governor said.

Neither he nor his office gave further details about how such a system might work. The state does not track the vaccinatio­n status of residents or of its own employees.

Lamont did not endorse a socalled vaccine passport of the sort that restaurant­s and entertainm­ent companies use in New York, nor did he suggest the state develop systems for vaccine passports. But the idea he floated could also be used by businesses such as event venues that are requiring patrons to show proof of vaccinatio­n.

“Excelsior is what they are using in New York,” he said. “That would allow restaurant­s, bars, and particular­ly employers a little easier way to verify if people, who say they are vaccinated, are vaccinated.”

The idea was embraced by at least some in the business community, who said employers will need all the help they can get to comply with Biden’s order.

“Anything that is going to streamline the ability for employers to do the verificati­on and to have some way of more simplified record keeping is going to be a plus,” said David Lewis, CEO of the Norwalkbas­ed human resources advisory and outsourcin­g firm Operations­Inc.

“At end of the day, you want this to be as easy as possible,” he added.

Companies are scrambling to understand how the federal mandate will work. Lewis said his company has received questions from employers such as where to send employees for testing and whether they have to pay them to take time to get tested.

The U.S. Occupation­al Safety and Health Administra­tion is soon expected to release initial guidance on how employers should implement Biden’s order.

“First of all, we have to wait for OSHA,” Lamont said Monday. “It’s easy for political people to say: ‘Bingo, here’s the mandate.’ And then OSHA is going to set up some of the rules. Then a lot of businesses will sit down with labor, like we are sitting down here with the state employees to get this thing implemente­d.”

The governor has ordered vaccine mandates for health care workers, teachers and school staff, and state employees. Some groups, such as nursing home employees and stateemplo­yed health providers, have a hard mandate, while others have the option of testing.

 ?? Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? Gov. Ned Lamont said the state “should have some sort of a validation system.”
Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticu­t Media Gov. Ned Lamont said the state “should have some sort of a validation system.”

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