As Connecticut’s COVID-19 cases continue to slow and the economy continues to reopen, Gov. Ned Lamont is getting ready to curtail his daily press briefings.
As of Monday, Connecticut’s hospitalizations dropped to 140 and infections only increased by 27.
Lamont’s decision to cut back on the daily briefings doesn’t mean his staff won’t be reporting the information or that he won’t be watching it.
Lamont said he plans to hold as many briefings as necessary to get the public the information they need.
“Two, three months ago, every day COVID was breaking, the world was changing and I really felt an obligation to give people the best real-time information about why we were doing it, what they can expect,” Lamont said Monday.
Lamont said that based on the current numbers, there’s no longer a need to brief the public on a daily basis, but they will continue to do it on a regular basis, “a couple times of a week just ‘cause there’s so much else happening around the country that can impact Connecticut, and I think people are curious to know how we’re going to respond to that.”
Connecticut’s hospitalizations peaked on April 20. At that time, thousands of Connecticut residents were tuning into his daily briefings broadcast live from the state Capitol. He’s held 69 press briefings on COVID-19 since early March.
The press briefings at that point were virtual and no media were in the room, but reporters were called on by Communications Director Max Reiss and able to ask the governor questions for about an hour every day.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended his press briefings Friday, June 19.
Both governors have seen their approval ratings soar during the pandemic.
A Quinnipiac University poll in early May found Lamont received a 65% job approval rating, and a 78% approval rating for the handling of the virus in specific. In that same poll, Cuomo received a 72% job approval rating, and an 81% approval rating for his handling of the response to the coronavirus.
By comparison, President Donald Trump received a 36% approval rating with 61% disapproving in Connecticut for his response to the pandemic.
Michael Lawlor, an associate professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven who worked in former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration said Connecticut lagged a week or two behind New York in the spread of the virus, so it makes sense that Lamont would be a week behind in curtailing the press briefings.
“I think given all the craziness on the national level that basic empathy and maturity puts you a league apart from what people are accustomed to seeing on the national stage,” Lawlor said.
Lawlor said Lamont didn’t exaggerate the information and was able to maintain his popularity even though he made some really unpopular decisions.
Unlike Cuomo, Lamont did not use his daily press briefings to push for more federal aid or to critique the Trump administration’s response.
Lamont, who has participated in weekly calls with the White House Coronavirus Task Force, was critical once 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.
“There will be plenty of time for the pointing of fingers,” Lamont said later in a phone interview. “How does that help us right now?”