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February 20, 2021 / 2021 Power 50

2021 Power 50: 6. Deidre Gifford & David Lehman

Photo | CT MIrror Deidre Gifford

Deidre Gifford, interim director of the Department of Public Health, and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner (DECD) David Lehman have been two of the most influential Lamont administration officials during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gifford holds the key to reopening businesses, returning kids to school and reviving some sense of normalcy in Connecticut in the year ahead. 

She is in charge of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as it unfolds across the state. She’s mobilizing the resources of her agency along with local health departments, hospital systems and individual doctors and nurses to get Connecticut residents vaccinated as quickly as possible.

At least 80% of the state’s 3.3 million or so residents must be vaccinated for COVID-19 for the population to achieve “herd immunity,” or the state in which enough people are immune so that the virus cannot easily spread.

Lehman is no health expert but he’s been a top adviser to Lamont throughout the pandemic, providing key advice on which businesses should remain open or closed as the pandemic spiked during the spring and early winter months.

Lehman also helped develop business reopening guidelines and oversaw multiple state grant and loan programs that provided much-needed capital to small businesses desperate for a financial lifeline.

Besides the pandemic, in 2021 Lehman is prepared to make a splash with a legislative agenda that aims to reform the state’s economic-incentives programs by moving the state toward a performance-based, “earn-as-you-go” system, meaning employers won’t reap state incentives until they create a certain number of jobs or make a certain level of investment.

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