March 30, 2021

Backed by Science and the Courts, Sen. Daugherty Abrams Votes to Continue Protecting Public Health and Safety

HARTFORD, CT – Buoyed by new data showing continuing coronavirus infections and deaths in Connecticut and a dangerous resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country, and backed by a new Connecticut Supreme Court decision, state Senator Mary Daugherty Abrams (D- Meriden, Middlefield, Rockfall, Middletown, Cheshire) joined her Democratic colleagues in voting for a bill that extends Governor Ned Lamont’s pandemic emergency powers for another seven weeks, until May 20.

“I support the passage of this bill to extend the governor’s pandemic emergency powers until May 20,” said Sen. Daugherty Abrams, Senate Chair of the Public Health Committee. “We are vaccinating residents at one of the fastest rates in the nation and beginning to see some light at the end of this long and painful tunnel caused by the global pandemic. Still, COVID-19 is far from done with us, our nation or the world. Therefore, it is imperative that we do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 and harmful, more dangerous variants in order to put us in the best possible position to return to normalcy.”

Today’s vote by Senate Democrats to continue protecting the public health and safety comes as COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to hammer Connecticut, the region, and the country.

Just yesterday, Connecticut reported more than 3,200 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend – more than 1,000 new infections every day – resulting in another 18 deaths and 42 hospitalizations. Nearly 8,000 Connecticut residents have died of COVID-19 over the past year, with nearly 310,000 infected – about one out of every 11 state residents.

Also yesterday, after new variants of the coronavirus sent the national seven-day average for new COVID-19 infections to levels not seen since October, President Biden called for governors and mayors to reinstate mask mandates.

And Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned Monday of “impending doom” from a potential fourth surge of the coronavirus pandemic, even as the number of U.S. citizens being vaccinated increases.

On Monday the Connecticut Supreme Court also issued a unanimous opinion confirming the constitutionality of Governor Lamont’s use of emergency powers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting that the Republicans’ own president, Donald Trump, had invoked the 1988 federal Stafford Act in declaring the COVID-19 pandemic to be a “major disaster,” the state Supreme Court ruled that the coronavirus pandemic in Connecticut also meets both the legal and plain-language definitions of “catastrophe” and “major disaster” in existing state law.

“It would be absurd for the statutory scheme to be interpreted such that the governor could declare a civil preparedness emergency for an event such as a snowstorm but not for the worst pandemic that has impacted the state in more than one century,” the court wrote in part.

Monday’s unanimous state Supreme Court decision undercuts an attempt by Connecticut Republicans to re-write today’s bill so that, under state law, viral pandemics are not considered a “serious disaster.” Connecticut Democrats defeated that Republican amendment on a party-line vote.