coronavirus in connecticut

Municipalities Launch Varied Plans for Handing Out COVID Tests

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“Knowing that we have the material in hand and can distribute it, I think will give people some comfort,” said West Haven Public Works Commissioner Tom McCarthy.

The public works crews picked up the city’s 7,000 COVID-19 tests from the National Guard pickup site in North Haven Monday.

“We’re going to finalize the plan, hopefully, this afternoon with exactly how we’re going to do it and get all these kits out to the citizens as quickly as we can,” said Joe Soto, West Haven’s emergency management director.

Long lines for at-home kits could be spotted around the state, from Wethersfield to Rocky Hill to Woodbridge.

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“They’re very difficult to find,” said Lou Puglisi who waited in line in Woodbridge. Officials there also received their kits Monday morning and started handing them out at 11:30 a.m.

“Residents have been incredibly patient,” said Betsy Yagla, the assistant administrative officer for Woodbridge. “I think they understand we have 675 tests to give out to 9,000 residents.”

It was a lot fewer than they thought, so they revised their plan.

“Right now our first selectman has asked people come only if they’re symptomatic, if they’ve had a known exposure, or if they have regular contact with someone who’s vulnerable,” Yagla said.

After the last two weeks, that could turn out to be a lot of people statewide looking for a test. Evelyn Lucas was glad to move through the line in Woodbridge in about 20 minutes.

“I’m not feeling well the last week or so, so I figured after the holiday I’d get tested,” Lucas said.  

In New Haven, 500 public school staff were out of work on Monday, plus 52 bus drivers. City officials said it highlights the need to get at-home tests to the education community.

“We’re trying to make sure that we prioritize New Haven Public Schools staff, essential workers, and students that have symptoms or a known COVID exposure,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.

That’s why a large portion of their 9,000 state tests is going to those groups. They also have 16,000 tests they acquired on their own to help cover essential workers and first responders.

“So that symptomatic, and people who have been exposed to a known COVID case, can get tested so that they can return to work,” Elicker said.

Next on the list: vulnerable groups across the city. More than 5,000 tests and 6,000 N95 masks were sent out this morning to community groups and city representatives.

“Our 30 board of alders were here picking up masks, picking up test kits, getting them into their wards,” said Rick Fontana, New Haven’s director of emergency operations.

They hope to have some out to the general population if another shipment arrives.

Health leaders expect the highly contagious omicron variant to remain dominant over the next few weeks, so they’re reminding people to get vaccinated get and a booster shot to help protect against severe infection.

“We want to make sure that you understand the risk that you’re taking when you choose not to get vaccinated,” said New Haven Health Director Maritza Bond. “It’s really highly contagious. It’s important that the community continues to be vigilant as we get through this surge of cases.”

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