MERIDEN — Hartford HealthCare has opened COVID-19 testing trailers at locations in Bridgeport, Torrington, Newington and New Britain. On Friday, the network announced a trailer at MidState Medical Center in Meriden and two other sites could open as early as next week.
Dr. James Cardon, HealthCare’s chief clinical integration officer, told reporters Friday that the system had opened a trailer at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport Friday and is looking to open similar trailers at Windham Hospital, Norwich Hospital and MidState Medical Center next week.
“Testing has become essential and limited,” Cardon said. “By next week this will bring us seven total sites. We’re doing 4,000 a week. This will increase our capacity another 1,000 tests a day.”
Testing is for symptomatic and non-symptomatic patients and by appointment only. The centers will be open seven days a week and staffed by three health care workers who will supervise self-testing. They are expected to handle 130 tests daily, Cardon said. All tests are nasal swab PCR tests.
Testing demand has reached critical mass as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly throughout the state. Students are required to have a negative PCR test result before returning to school after quarantine and many adults must have the same to return to the workplace.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration distributed thousands of at home rapid test kits to municipalities to help identify and isolate individuals who test positive for the virus but the PCR tests remain in short supply and appointments aren’t available for several weeks.
Cardon said the state has not offered any financial support to open the testing trailers, but has asked for support from the state’s healthcare networks to increase testing capacity. Test kit distribution, vaccination clinic
Thousands of rapid test kits were distributed in drive-through events in Southington, Cheshire and Wallingford this week, with an event scheduled in Meriden on Saturday.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati asks that people arrive at 10 a.m. or after to receive two kits per car at either Lincoln Midde School on Centennial Avenue or Thomas Edison Middle School on North Broad Street. Each kit has two tests and the two-kit per-car limit will be strictly enforced.
Members or the the Meriden Fire Department will help distribute the kits, and police will be on hand to direct traffic. The size of the parking lots should negate the need to arrive early. About 3,980 kits will be distributed to about 995 cars at each site.
Public health staff are not attending the test-kit distribution to be at a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Maloney High School from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. That event is open to residents 5 years and up and no appointment is needed.
City health officials have asked that only those people who are showing symptoms or have had recent exposure to COVID-19 pick up the tests. People are also asked to stay in their cars and have proof of residency.
“We are asking people not to queue up beforehand,” Scarpati said.
Scarpati has been in weekly contact with Hartford HealthCare officials about the need for more testing. He said Friday he had not heard a firm date about a trailer opening at MidState but it would be good for the community.
“There is an incredible need for testing,” Scarpati said. “Especially for children going back to school and employees back to work.”