Every governor faces a test and COVID-19 is Gov. Ned Lamont’s.
The former cable executive is not interested in talking about the bags under his eyes, but what keeps him up at night is the shipment of personal protective equipment sitting in a hangar in China.
Lamont, a Democrat serving his first term, said he’s unable to speculate on what shipments of critical medical supplies will eventually reach the state. He has to focus on what has been possible like the arrival of four of Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination Units that will clean 80,000 masks per day. The masks can then be reused by health care workers.
The state received 100,000 N95 masks and 2 million surgical masks earlier this week, “so we have a little bit of capacity,” Lamont said Wednesday.
Facing emerging Republican criticism that he’s not doing enough, Lamont and his team are not interested in detailing their struggles over obtaining PPE. They believe they are just doing the best they can and working with private interests to get supplies to the state as fast as possible.
But competition is fierce and Chinese export laws are not working in their favor. Still, the Lamont administration is reluctant to talk about the shipments or suppliers in detail.
Asked what makes him mad, Lamont said “you didn’t have to be a psychic to see what was going on.”
He said there was Wuhan, China, South Korea, and the state of Washington.
“I think Connecticut and the states in general have been pretty good and acted on the information we had on a timely basis,” Lamont said. “I really think we bent the curve and saved lives.”
The state of Connecticut, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, saw it’s COVID-19 peak on Tuesday, but that’s only one measurement. Yale-New Haven Health System sent a memo to all staff on Wednesday telling them that they appear to be in a “plateau.”
Lamont has received high marks for how he’s handled the crisis, even if he’s had a few gaffes like on April 1 when he attributed the death of a six-week old infant to COVID-19. Chief State Medical Examiner James Gill told reporters that the baby tested positive for COVID-19 after she died, but that the cause of death still remains unknown.
Lamont said he believes his administration has acted upon information appropriately and on a timely basis.
“What I’m mad about is that the feds didn’t take it seriously for too long,” Lamont said Wednesday in one of the most critical statements of the federal government Lamont has made during the pandemic.
Lamont, who has participated in weekly calls with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was critical on April 13 of the federal government’s response during a CNN interview with Chris Cuomo.
“This is a president who likes to throw verbal grenades,” Lamont said after President Donald Trump claimed he had the power to decide when to reopen the economy.
Lamont said he would rather not sit around and complain about Washington or criticize what’s happening there.
“They will be plenty of time for the pointing of fingers,” Lamont said Wednesday in a phone interview. “How does that help us right now?”
Lamont needs to increase testing over the next few weeks to help get to a decision about whether to reopen businesses and schools on May 20. New Hampshire and Massachusetts have ordered schools to remain closed for the remainder of the school year.
Lamont said he’s going to wait to get a recommendation from his reopening advisory committee.
A big part of whether to reopen is going to depend on how much testing can get done. Lamont said the state hopes to reach 1.5 million tests by mid-May.
“We’ve got a good strong relationship with some corporate players that really matter,” Lamont said Wednesday, referring to the new partnership with Quest Diagnostics when it comes to testing.
He said Jackson Labs has a relationship with another big testing company, so “I’d like to think we’re getting control of our own destiny. The more I have control over my own destiny the better I sleep at night.”