State receives more than 426,000 rapid COVID-19 tests Friday 



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MERIDEN — The state received more than 426,000 rapid COVID-19 test kits overnight Friday, one day after a deal for 3 million tests fell through.

“Since yesterday we’ve received 426,000 rapid tests right here with more to come,” Gov. Ned Lamont said from a distribution warehouse in New Britain. “We’re going to have a lot more tests in the next couple of weeks.”

The tests will be distributed through five regional hubs to municipalities across the state. Lamont said he's not sure all the tests could be delivered Friday and asked local leaders to make sure they first go to essential workers, educators and those exhibiting symptoms before being made available to everybody.

“More to come,” he said. “... we'll be able to get them more widely distributed — get them available in our schools, get some available in hospitals and other forward-facing folks.”

On Thursday, the governor announced that a promised order of 3 million COVID-19 at-home tests, about 1 million of which were supposed to be distributed to the public by local municipalities and public health districts, has fallen through.

The governor blamed misrepresentation by the supplier, which had previously worked with the state to secure personal protective equipment earlier during the pandemic.

Lamont deflected questions about that problem Friday, saying the state would have time later to do a postmortem on what happened. He said his focus now is working on quickly getting as many tests to the state as possible.

Many cities and towns had plans in place to deliver thousands of test kits to residents on Thursday. Those plans were canceled when the state announced the deal to purchase the 3 million tests had fallen through. After scrapping those plans, Cheshire and Meriden officials said Friday they would wait until the tests were in hand before planning another distribution event. 

“As of right now, the state has not released an allocation or distribution schedule,” Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati said in a text message Friday. “We are not expecting any today.”

Wallingford did not announce a distribution event for the earlier shipment. Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said Thursday the town would communicate test kit pickups when officials knew they were at the distribution center in North Haven. 

Southington had planned a two-day distribution event on Thursday and Friday that was canceled. 

“...we will reschedule as soon as the state can clearly confirm when our allotment will take place,” according to a statement from the town of Southington on Thursday.  

About 16,000 test kits and 890,000 masks were distributed to homeless shelters and housing authorities in the past couple of days. State officials said they are talking to about 30 brokers to procure test kits and added the original deal for 3 million tests is not off the table.

“Those conversations continue,” Lamont said. “We’re going back to a year and a half ago. A lot of deals you’re seeing now have a little of that gold rush frenzy. Nothing is standard operating procedure. It’s a litte bit of the wild west out there.”

Lamont also said that Connecticut public schools will begin in-person learning on Monday, with the ability to switch individual classes and schools to remote learning on a case-by-case basis, if as an example, a teacher is immunocompromised.

“But otherwise, we want everybody back in school,” he said. “We know that there's no compromise with in-person learning. We found a year and a half ago we can do it safely. I believe, even now, in this omicron day, we'll be able to do it safely as well.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

 

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz



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