Coronavirus Testing Now Allowed in Connecticut

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Ongoing discussions on the plan for the coronavirus (COVID-19) continued in Milford Friday, with legislators and health leaders reviewing where the state stands in planning.

Dr. Michael Ivy, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Yale New Haven Health, gave a message of caution.

“I want to reassure people: don’t panic,” he says. “But we are taking this seriously. We’re being diligent, prudent about how we make our preparations.”

One addition to those plans was announced Friday. Gov. Ned Lamont says the Connecticut Department of Health will be able to test patients for the coronavirus instead of sending samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

NBC Connecticut got a look inside the state Department of Public Health lab in Rocky Hill that's been approved to test for the virus.

“It will get faster results for people to give them confidence. As you know, nobody has been detected yet here in Connecticut. Barely anything in New England but we want to be ready,” said Lamont.

Testing in Connecticut is another step forward in planning. If a test is needed, results can be turned around in 24 hours.

“This is one more way we’ll be able to test people and give them confidence that they’re okay,” said Lamont.

There are no confirmed coronavirus cases in Connecticut, according to Gov. Lamont.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal says there’s a concern over the availability of testing kits.

“These local authorities, I met with them today, they need more of the testing kits,” said Blumenthal.  “This kind of a step is only a partial solution. What we need is more of the tests and the gear and tools for accurate diagnosis.”

Leaders say there needs to be a long term plan for a shortage of drugs and supplies that predominantly come from China.

If there is a diagnosis, doctors say local hospitals will be ready, although most won’t need to come to the ER. But there’s still a concern over the deadly impact the coronavirus can have.  

“That one to two percent mortality rate that gets your attention,” said Ivy. “So, there are people that get very ill with this, so we’re trying to prepare in a very coordinated fashion across the system.”

Another discussion in the meeting was funding for the coronavirus. Sen. Chris Murphy says the federal government is underestimating what’s needed to fight an outbreak.

“$1.2 billion just doesn’t cut it. We had less than six cases of Ebola in the United States and congress allotted $4 billion,” said Murphy. “We need to we need to pass an emergency funding bill ASAP.”

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