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Lamont gets his coronavirus groove

Gov. Ned Lamont, in some of his recent appearances on national television, has been wearing a tie. It suits him.

We in Connecticut, who have gotten used to a more casual, open-collar version of our aw-shucks governor, might find the more formal and serious Lamont a pleasant surprise.

Indeed, he seems to have found his governing groove with the coronavirus crisis. I'm impressed, not just with the style but the substance.

He has moved quickly to try to get out in front of the problem, not just in organization, administration and decision-making but, more importantly, in communications.

Lamont has spent a lot of time in front of cameras and microphones for the last few days and he has projected a calm and informed confidence, admitting his administration doesn't have all the answers but promising it's working on them.

He doesn't hesitate to answer tough questions and does so thoughtfully.

He's not sugarcoating, predicting this week it's going to get tougher before it gets better.

He's getting things done with a combination of executive order and coaxing, urging the public to take it all seriously as well as bringing the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, not subject to his orders, along with his goal for a new Connecticut of social distancing.

I expect the tribes were finding their own way to the right decision to close their sprawling casinos, but I'm sure the governor's swift and deliberate order to shut down bars and restaurant dining hastened those deliberations.

The governor has masterfully fired up the power of the executive order, pleased to learn, I suspect, there's in fact a lot he can do without the legislature in these strange times.

I caught a lot of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's long and rambling news conference Tuesday morning, carried live on national cable news for a surprisingly long time, probably for the way the governor was personalizing the crisis, careening from an explanation of why quarantine won't work — potential carriers will move out before the gates close — to how much he misses being able to kiss his daughter.

We probably don't feel that close to Ned Lamont, yet, but he has helped put a caring and empathetic face on draconian measures.

Our governor, unlike Cuomo, also has managed to sharply criticize the federal response, calling it "woefully slow," without tangling on Twitter with Trump, who this week pivoted from calling the virus worries a hoax to preparing to capitalize on them with election-year checks to voters.

"Where the federal government has fallen off, we have had to lead," Lamont said.

I appreciate that Lamont and other Northeast governors stepped up and tried to keep us safe before the federal government finally began to move aggressively.

When all this is over — Cuomo said Tuesday it might seem now like a long time, but it won't in due time —  I think maybe Lamont should keep the tie.

He still won't be able to impose tolls by executive order, but maybe we are all going to be a little better, more compromising, more empathetic when this is over.

That could help bring all kinds of solutions to the many problems Connecticut will continue to face.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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