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New Haven Holds COVID Test Kit Giveaway

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One by one, New Haven city leaders worked through nearly a thousand cars at Sports Haven Thursday morning.

“Go to the second lady here!” shouted Health Director Maritza Bond as she and other city workers worked through the lines of cars weaving through the parking lot.

“Good morning, you have two in each kit so a total of four. How are you?” said Gwendolyn Busch Williams, Director of the Youth and Recreation Department, as she handed over two test kits to a driver.

“It wasn’t a long wait at all and I’m pleasantly surprised, said Mark Strickland of New Haven. He said he got a text from the city about Thursday’s test kit giveaway the night before. He heard how hard it was to get a kit, so he wasn’t sure what to expect.

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“I really think Connecticut and New Haven, in particular, is handling this pandemic well, with the free tests, testing, the free test kits, and I’m very grateful,” Strickland said.

Several drivers say they were in and out with not much of a wait in line.  

“Less than ten minutes we were done,” said Marvin Generette of New Haven. “This is the first time I’ve ever seen it done this quick and easy and no problems.”

Volunteers from a number of city departments came together to check IDs, and hand out N95 masks -- two per household.

“This doesn’t happen without a team of people the team out here is unbelievable,” said Rick Fontana, Director of Emergency Operations.

The team handed out 2,500 kits to city residents only at three distributions on Thursday. One distribution site was at Sports Haven on Long Wharf Drive, and the other was on the New Haven Green.

“We’re trying to keep the numbers consistent just as a fairness thing, but it’s been really flowing well,” Fontana said.

Given the demand for test kits, the mayor is asking that for now only people who need a test show up.

“If people are symptomatic, if they know they’ve been exposed to COVID, if they need the test to get back to work, come on down and get the test,” said Mayor Justin Elicker.

With the tests in high demand, Bond detailed how people should use them, so they do not go to waste.

“People that are symptomatic, take a rapid test, isolate from your other family members, do not go to work or school,” Bond said. “On day five, before returning to work or school, take another rapid test to get clearance.”

For those who have possibly been exposed and are asymptomatic, she says to isolate and only take a test on the fifth day after the person they came in contact with tests positive.  

The city anticipates getting another shipment of tests from the state, and may have another distribution in the future.

“We’re going to continue to work hard to make sure our residents are as safe as they can be,” Fontana said.

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