The availability of tests for COVID-19 is steadily growing, but there are still relatively few places to get tested in the Meriden-Wallingford area.
They include drive-up testing at MidState Medical Center on Lewis Avenue in Meriden. Hospitals outside the city, including Saint Mary’s in Waterbury also offer drive-up testing.
Hartford HealthCare, MidState’s parent organization, also offers drive-up testing at Hartford Hospital and in Newington.
Aside from hospitals, there are a few other places to be tested for COVID-19 in the area. Newly added to the list is the CVS Pharmacy, 905 S. Main St., in Cheshire, which is now offering drive-thru testing. It is one of 12 new CVS testing sites across the state.
The Community Health Center on State Street in Meriden also offers drive-up testing by appointment only.
Other nearby testing sites include the PhysicianOne Urgent Care locations in Hamden and Bristol, according to a listing of COVID-19 test locations published on 211ct.org, which is administered by the United Way of Connecticut.
The PhysicianOne Urgent Care website, physicianoneurgentcare.com, states patients experiencing symptoms including
fever, cough, sore throat and loss of taste are encouraged to schedule virtual appointments through the site.
“We have options for you to receive contactless care to be evaluated by one of our providers via a Virtual Visit, and receive an appointment for a drive-up test if warranted,” the site explains.
PhysicianOne also offers priority testing for all workers considered essential, even those who don’t have any symptoms for COVID-19. Those eligible include healthcare employees, first responders, postal workers, grocery workers, as well as individuals working in agriculture and public works.
PhysicianOne promises test results within two to four business days. The CVS Health drive-thru testing sites offer results in three days.
CVS also administers a rapid testing site at 60 Sargent Drive in New Haven.
At CVS’ new drive-thru testing sites patients self-administer swab samples. Patients are required to stay in their vehicles and will be directed to the pharmacies’ drive-thru windows. There, according to CVS Health, patients will receive a self swab test kit and instructions. CVS Pharmacy staff “will observe the self swab process to ensure it is done properly.”
Residents seeking testing through the new CVS Health locations sites must register online, completing a questionnaire and scheduling an appointment. The website is www.cvs.com/minuteclinic/covid-19-testing.
According to a CVS statement, the company is planning to open additional test sites across Connecticut and the country over the next two weeks and expects to have around 1,000 locations nationwide by the end of the month.
CVS Health’s goal is to process up to 1.5 million tests per month “subject to availability of supplies and lab capacity,” according to the company.
In Meriden, city Health and Human Services Director Lea Crown acknowledged that figures showing the numbers of total tests conducted and negative test results are not readily available.
“Any report of total tests, therefore, would be incomplete and inaccurate,” Crown wrote in an email to the Record-Journal.
The most recent reports, according to the state’s disease surveillance system, showed that from March 1 to May 13, 2,458 test records related to Meriden residents had been uploaded to the surveillance system. Crown cautioned the reported figure is incomplete.
According to statewide figures released by the Connecticut Department of Public Health on Friday, laboratories had so far processed 155,908 tests across the state. There were 36,085 positive results.
During a news conference earlier in the week Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters officials hoped to ramp up testing, expanding to 42,000 weekly tests by next week.
Testing has grown since early March — from 18,000 weekly tests in mid-April to about 29,000 tests last week.
Chesprocott Health Director Maura Esposito said she hopes the increased availability of tests will identify more residents who have the virus but are not experiencing any symptoms “... so they can isolate and hopefully stop the spread.” The health district includes Cheshire.
Esposito noted that other local health departments, including New Haven, are issuing guidance to local salon and restaurant operators to have those workers tested ahead of Wednesday’s reopening.
“I would strongly support this as well, but we are not making it mandatory,” Esposito said in an email. “We will be providing all our restaurants with an ill health policy template to ensure their workers are feeling OK and checking temperatures and other high risk exposure questions to ensure our patrons are safe.”
State Rep. Liz Linehan, whose district includes Cheshire, Southington and Wallingford, expressed concern that while testing capacity is growing, there are not enough people utilizing it. She said it’s an issue of publicizing the availability of tests while moving to reopen sectors of the economy.
“I think it’s important we still focus on the information we’re getting from our experts — the epidemiologists. And that we’re taking it slow, reopening with safety in mind, while also understanding it’s important we get the economy moving,” Linehan said. “It’s going to be an important balance. But as long as we follow guidelines from the scientists and data, we will be moving in the right direction.”