Leaders of the city of Hartford and Hartford Public Schools announced on Thursday new COVID-19 testing options for symptomatic students and cohorts of coronavirus-positive students in partnership with Hartford HealthCare and Trinity Health of New of New England.
School nurses have been trained to perform coronavirus tests for symptomatic students, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin announced. The samples will be tested by the two local hospital systems. Cohorts who health officials believe may have been exposed will also be able to be tested.
"It will allow us to move with greater speed," Bronin said, and highlighted that the new testing program will allow contact tracers to get to work faster.
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The city is also redirecting much of its mobile testing efforts to schools to be able to provide testing options for asymptomatic students, the mayor said.
So far, four Hartford Public Schools staff members and three community members have tested positive since the start of the year, according to Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.
No changes are planned to the city's learning plans, the superintendent said.
Bronin said he feels currently the city is able to provide a safe in-school option but the district is prepared to pivot to distance learning as necessary.
The mayor said Hartford has seen an increase in the rate of infections of COVID-19 cases during the month of September.
"We are, like many communities, and like the state as a whole, seeing an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases in Hartford," Bronin said. He said the uptick is currently manageable but needs to be monitored. According to the mayor, the city is on track for between 60 and 80 new coronavirus cases this week, a noticeable increase over the 30 to 40 new cases a week seen during parts of the summer. The mayor noted much of the recent spread is driven through gatherings of ten or more people.
There are currently a dozen testing locations around Hartford.
If a resident is tested and has insurance, the health workers will ask for their insurance information, however if someone does not have insurance, the costs of their test will be covered by the state, Bronin said.
In addition, Hartford Public Schools also announced a new partnership with the UConn School of Social Work to provide additional social-emotional and wellness support to students and school staff, according to a release from the mayor's office.