Paul Mounds Jr. ’03, chief of staff for Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, spoke on Wednesday, May 20, about ways the state’s citizens and government have risen to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he discussed Connecticut’s plans for reopening businesses and safely returning the state to a semblance of ordinary life.
The forum, “Silver Linings and Looking Ahead,” was the final webinar in a six-part COVID-19 Speakers Series organized by Loomis Chaffee’s Alvord Center for Global & Environmental Studies and Norton Family Center for the Common Good.
“The coronavirus has taken a drastic toll on the state of Connecticut and our communities,” Paul told the audience of 116 people who tuned in to his presentation. He said he is encouraged to see people in the community cooperating and engaging with each other. By doing so, he said, they help each other adjust to the new realities of the world in which we all now live.
Paul, who became the governor’s chief of staff on February 27, one week before the first COVID-19 case was detected in the state, shared the most recent data on Connecticut’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. As of May 20, Connecticut’s hospitalization number was down by 50 percent from its peak in the middle of April, a more rapid improvement than predicted, according to Paul. He attributes the better-than-expected rate of improvement to the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” initiative, ordered on March 22, which suspended non-essential business operations, closed schools, instituted social distancing measures, and encouraged people to stay at home.
The governor began reopening the state on May 20 with Phase 1, which allows certain businesses to open with some restrictions. Further restrictions will be lifted in stages as the state meets data-driven benchmarks for COVID-19 reductions and as businesses commit to following safety measures designed to ensure customer and employee safety.
Concerns remain about a resurgence of the virus later this year, and Paul said the state will focus on testing and contact tracing in its effort to combat a future COVID-19 outbreak. The state government also will continue to communicate with public health professions and work with neighboring states to ensure that health systems are prepared to cope with future outbreaks and provide readily available testing, he said.
Paul acknowledged the work of individual volunteers and philanthropic organizations in helping to provide services to people in need and support essential workers in the community.
“Its been amazing and great to see the benevolent nature of the people of Connecticut,” Paul said. “If we all do our part, we will get through this together.”
After his presentation, Paul answered viewer-submitted questions in a session moderated by Eric LaForest, Keller Family Director of the Norton Family Center for the Common Good.
Originally from Hartford, Paul earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in 2007. Since then, he has worked in many areas of public service. Paul joined Governor Lamont’s administration in January 2017 as chief operating officer, charged with ensuring coordination of state agencies and overall operations for the administration. Now as chief of staff, Paul oversees all the workings of the Governor’s Office and the executive branch, including the governor’s cabinet and agencies. He plays a key role working alongside state public health and business leaders on the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group. Paul also serves as vice chair of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and as Governor Lamont’s representative to the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees. He and his family live in Glastonbury.