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Norwalk municipal employees and teachers ordered to get vaxxed or tested

The state is experiencing its fourth surge in hospitalizations since the virus arrived in March 2020, each less intense than the previous one. (Office of the Governor)

NORWALK, Conn. — All City and Norwalk Public Schools employees are now required to either show proof of vaccination or get tested for COVID-19 weekly.

Thursday’s local announcement was mirrored by one from the State, as Gov. Ned Lamont has ordered that State employees and teachers get vaccinated or be tested weekly.

The moves come as COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations continue to increase across the state; earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed Fairfield County in a high rate of community transmission for the first time, the City news announcement said.

“I believe we must provide a safe workplace for employees. We also must instill confidence in members of the public that our employees who they are in contact with are doing what they can to stay safe,” Mayor Harry Rilling is quoted as saying. “My number one priority has always been the health and safety of our community and employees. This is a proactive step to curb transmission. We have worked so hard and sacrificed so much throughout this pandemic that I do not want us to stumble backward. We have the tools to end this pandemic and we must use them.”

Lamont said the highly contagious delta variant convinced him to order that all state employees, teachers and staff in K-12 schools and day care be vaccinated by Sept. 27, expanding on a previous requirement for nursing homes. The Norwalk announcement did not specify a date.

School reopens Monday, Aug. 30, and the Connecticut State Department of Education has provided direction that all school districts in Connecticut will return to full in-person learning this year, with masks currently required for all staff and students, regardless of vaccine status.

Nearly 60% of Norwalkers aged 12-17 are fully vaccinated, the release said. Children less than 12 years old are not eligible for the vaccine.

“As we welcome students, faculty, and staff back for the new school year, we are all disappointed that COVID-19 continues to impact our lives,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella is quoted as saying. “As we return to full in-person learning this year, we are committed to making sure that effective health protocols and strong social emotional supports are in place for our children and staff. We will also continue working with our healthcare partners to provide opportunities for staff and students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. We look forward to a very successful school year.”

“As a union, we don’t decide if there’s a vaccine mandate, or write workplace policies, our employers do; we work with them to ensure they’re as fair as possible,” Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Mary Yordon said Friday. “Vaccinating members of the school community is a vital part of keeping employees, students and their families from exposure to the virus. Masking, distancing, ventilation, testing, and good routine cleaning are additional important mitigation strategies.  Dr. Estrella and her team have already reached out to the NFT and established good collaborative practices for working on the vaccine policy. We will continue to meet with them and represent the needs of our members with the shared goal of a stable in-person school year in the safest possible environment.”

Currently, 95% of the country is listed in a substantial or higher transmission rate according to the CDC, the City news release said. Cases in Norwalk are also at the highest levels in more than three months. The vaccine or testing requirement, along with the ongoing indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccine status, are combined efforts to combat the rising spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.

Statewide hospitalizations for the virus, a key metric for Lamont, stood at 344 on Thursday, well within the capacity of Connecticut hospitals. But that is nearly a sevenfold increase from two months ago, when the governor said the pandemic seemed to be in its final innings.

“Delta’s thrown us a curve, we have some extra innings to go through,” Lamont said. “But before you say, ‘Oh my god, here we go again,’ I want you to know we are in so much better position as a state and as a country today than we were during that fall flare up and where we were 14, 16 months ago.”

The state reported 23 COVID deaths over the past week, more than double the previous week. There were 10 fatalities over the past two weeks at nursing homes, which were especially hard hit in the first months of the pandemic.

Connecticut Mirror reporters Mark Pazniokas and Kasturi Pananjady contributed to this story.

Updated 1 p.m. Friday: More information.

14 comments

CT-Patriot August 20, 2021 at 5:45 am

Where’s all the Democrats shouting “my body my choice”?

Force injection of a vaccine that’s not fully FDA approved, has numerous side effects and has shown to have limited protection to the virus.

Oh and if you have serious side effects, you cannot sue for damage.

Who’s the dictator now?

George P. August 20, 2021 at 11:10 am

They said it would be “voluntary,” were just “encouraging.” That was all a lie. I will NOT comply I will NOT take an experimental vaccine.

Kenneth Werner August 20, 2021 at 12:09 pm

It’s long past time for us to do the right thing for our city and state and simply require all teachers and other public employees, and students 12 and over, to be vaccinated. If political pressure to make required testing an option cannot be resisted, then the testing should be done at least twice a week.

Victor Kruger August 20, 2021 at 1:38 pm

This is creepy in the extreme…. Pretty soon they will issue the unvaccinated an armband… ( for safety). Then it will be an armband and you have to sit in another office ( for even more safety) … then it will be all unvaccinated have to go to the camps on these trains ( because it’s “for the children “) . Don’t say it CANT happen… it has before
So here we are again with the Stazi demanding to see our papers…. So much four our body our choice ( I guess that only works for women who want to kill their babies…. Riiiiiight)
The vaccine manufacturers are indemnified against being sued if someone gets sick or dies fro the vaccine…. But the city isn’t I’ll bet .. so if these petty dictators push this and a fatality occurs expect a law suit

All we have is the illusion of freedom wit democrats in power

Ridiculous August 20, 2021 at 2:23 pm

CT-Patriot,

I must have a different definition of patriot than you do. Rather than considering only selfish interests, a true patriot is willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of our countrymen and women, but you are more concerned about a fictitious set of arguments regarding the vaccine. Look at the data. In terms of percentages of people who have had bad outcomes from the vaccine, the numbers are statistically near zero, and there have been hundreds of millions who have had it.

Your claim that the vaccine offers limited protection is a half-truth, which shouldn’t be confused with the truth. Nothing in our lives is 100%, except for death. There will never be a perfect medication. I take several, and each offers a significant set of side effects; yet, I am far better off taking them than I am not taking them. Without them, I might have become an invalid by now. Worse, I might have died. I take them for my own well-being and for the benefit of my family, which needs me.

With the vaccine, the chances of getting COVID were never promised to be 100%. At best, it was under 95%, but at a time before the delta strain. With Delta and other strains that didn’t exist at the beginning of the pandemic, that has changed, but the people who become seriously ill from COVID are almost entirely those who haven’t been vaccinated. Those of us who have been vaccinated, can test positive and sometimes can become ill, but it is extremely rare for one of us to become gravely ill.

Okay, so you are willing to take the chance because it is your body, or because you are so healthy or because you are so young, etc., but even that isn’t the thinking of a patriot because young and healthy people do get this disease, and their illnesses tax our medical care system. There are parts of our country where ambulances are so busy because of COVID that people who suffer from heart attacks, strokes, accidents and other emergencies requiring hospital care can’t get to the hospital or can’t be admitted because there are no beds for them. How would you feel if your loved one had a serious illness or accident, but couldn’t get prompt medical treatment because of hospitals that couldn’t handle the number of people with COVID?

Be a true patriot, not someone who waves a flag and thinks that is the same as honoring our country. Think of our fellow Americans. Think of the rest of humanity.

Vaccine Cards Next! August 20, 2021 at 2:46 pm

List of places not requiring employees to get vaccinated

1) The White House
2) The CDC
3) The FDA
4) The WHO
5) J&J
6) Moderna
7) Pfizer

Something isn’t adding up here…

Bryan Meek August 20, 2021 at 4:07 pm

Remember when the shots rolled out, the experts saying you’d need a third? Yeah me neither,

So, they don’t know what they’ll do, but by gosh they are safe we just know it. Until we don’t.

CT-Patriot August 20, 2021 at 4:49 pm

Ridiculous:

You are very amusing and you are entitled to your opinion, but your facts are wrong.

Sorry, but Gov Lamont is not a Dr. He cannot “mandate” Which btw, is not law a vaccine into another person’s body period full stop.

Those that wish can volunteer and take the jab. That’s THEIR choice.

I on the other hand rely on REAL medical doctor(s) who advised not to, at least with Mnra style.

Yes, millions may have taken it but I ask you this question….

What is the long term effect? No one knows as we have not crossed that threshold.

Also if you remember history when the British forced our colonies they could only drink or use THEIR highly taxed tea….what happened next? Those were patriots.

Therefore, I’m NOT going to listen to a dictator on what I must put in my body just for a bad flu type illness.

Remember: “My body my choice”? Guess all of a sudden it’s your body our choice..

I worked through the entire “pandemic” and not a problem since. Why, common sense…stay away from people I feel as a possibility of getting it from, washing my hands….

BTW, next time why don’t you listen to George Carlin on “germs” and have a good laugh. It’s very apropro.

Ridiculous August 20, 2021 at 9:42 pm

CT-Patriot and Others,

These debates stir people’s emotions, but I really do try to understand opposing perspectives and opinions, even when I continue to disagree. All I ask is that you also try to understand mine. Achieving that, if we still disagree, I hope we can do so while still acknowledging that we are all patriots.

I offer some points of clarification:

1. I am not a fan of the governor and I don’t seek his counsel for medical decisions. I don’t even especially like the man. I do seek medical research by real medical experts. By the way, I think the CDC has occasionally disappointed me with its messaging, which sometimes seems not to have been well reviewed before its delivery.
2. “My body, my choice” is not an expression I have ever used in this or any other context.
3. I completely agree that you have the right to decide if you will have the vaccine. Please correct me if I’m mistaken, but didn’t the governor afford people the option of getting tested if they don’t want to be vaccinated?
4. Your drawing the analogy to the Boston Tea Party is a stretch, but I get the point you intend.
5. You have been able to stay healthy by staying away from those you think may expose you to COVID. Because of life circumstances, some of us can’t be as selective, and some of us must also be in contact with some extremely vulnerable members of our society.

Patriot, be well and please wish me well. I expect that we will oneday be over this disease, and we have to hope that we haven’t allowed the many debates and conflicts to destroy the relationships we need to thrive as a society.

CT-Patriot August 20, 2021 at 10:06 pm

I also ask this question….

Along the line of “booster” shot.

If the vaccines do not protect me from getting Covid and they also cannot protect someone from contacting Covid FROM me then one has to ask…

What is a booster going to boost?

Victor kruger August 22, 2021 at 1:26 pm

For everyone who has read history books and wondered to yourself how did every day German citizens just BLINDLY go along with Hitler and his evil minions…. Now you know… by being bullied by well meaning fellow citizens, the media, the government…. The gradual attrition of the will to resist because hey everyone is doing it !… only when the war was over did they resort to the well known phrase ( cmon…say it with me ). “ I was only following orders”

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