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Connecticut Lawmakers Propose Office of Pandemic Preparedness, With Support Included for Businesses

  • Eastern Connecticut Democratic legislators propose an Office of Pandemic Preparedness to address future public health emergencies
  • Proposed legislation would also offer support to workers and small businesses during pandemics
  • Governor Ned Lamont suggests that current state group has been adequate to meet the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic

A group of Democratic legislators from eastern Connecticut is proposing the formation of an Office of Pandemic Preparedness to help the state weather the next major public health emergency. The legislators also plan to introduce other legislation to confront future pandemics, including support systems for small businesses and workers.

State Senator Cathy Osten recently announced that she and a coalition of nine other legislators will introduce legislation to “prepare for and respond to any future health pandemic in Connecticut.” The Connecticut General Assembly convenes on Jan. 6.

The Office of Pandemic Preparedness would be a standing entity consisting of executive branch employees from seven state agencies. It would oversee testing, the creation of a strategic reserve of emergency medical equipment, and the continuity of social services during a pandemic.

The proposed legislation also:

  • Establishes a “Medical Manufacturing Pipeline” to create any necessary medical and associated jobs to respond to a pandemic, along with an in-state supply chain for masks, gloves, and other necessities
  • Guarantees support to essential workers through Paid Family Medical Leave, rent and mortgage assistance, and emergency payments
  • Provides long-term benefits and job training to those who have lost their job due to a pandemic
  • Provides small businesses with personal protective equipment and direct access  to in-state grant and loan specialists
  • Creates a Schools Plan to address shortages of educational staffers during pandemic conditions

Governor Ned Lamont said he believes the state’s existing pandemic preparedness group, which is working on issues such as the reopening process and vaccine distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, is doing an adequate job. He asked the legislators to discuss the proposed legislation with him to determine if there are any additional areas the state needs to address.

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