Demand for COVID-19 testing increases with rise in cases

Demand for COVID-19 testing increases with rise in cases

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MERIDEN — The line of cars carrying people waiting for COVID-19 tests at MidState Medical Center ran all the way to Lewis Avenue Friday afternoon.

“Yes, we’ve been really busy,” a worker said as she directed the cars into two lanes.

Hartford HealthCare, the parent company of MidState, has seen a recent spike in COVID-19 testing across all its facilities, according to a Hartford HealthCare spokeswoman. The increased demand for testing follows a recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases statewide.

After months of positive cases at less than 1 percent, Connecticut saw it’s infection rate climb to 2.4 percent Tuesday, before dipping to 2 percent Wednesday and 1.3 percent Thursday. Statewide cases have increased 36 percent since last week with towns in the eastern part of the state seeing the highest rates of infection. 

More than 15,000 tests were performed Thursday, according to records from Gov. Ned Lamont’s office. 

More than 62,000 people in the state have contracted the virus and more than 4,500 have died since the pandemic began. More than 190 people were hospitalized Thursday, the highest number in several months.

“The upward trend of positives in Connecticut appears to be motivating people to get tested,” said Leslie Gianelli, a spokeswoman for the Community Health Center Inc. “Our testing numbers have increased this week.”

CHC, which is based in Middletown but has sites in Meriden and 10 other towns, is extending its COVID testing hours to 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and weekends at fixed sites, and will soon be doing mobile testing on weekends based on statewide need, Gianelli said. 

Locally, the number of cases has also climbed. In the two weeks from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15, Meriden reported 64 new cases, Wallingford had 48 new cases, Southington had 34 new cases and Cheshire had 56, according to the state DPH.

Meriden Health and Human Services Director Lea Crown said despite isolated cases in the public schools, the department is not seeing in-school spread. Contact tracing done by the department has revealed that small social gatherings and household transmission are the leading causes.  

“As the weather gets colder and persons move more inside, the risk of possible transmission increases,” Crown said in an email. “Plus, persons are experiencing ‘COVID-fatigue’ and are becoming lax in mask-wearing consistency, especially when with non-household members.”

Rapid testing sites are also experiencing long delays for tests, according to notices on the website for DOCS Urgent Care in Southington, which has 17 locations statewide. Kathy’s Urgent Care Center in Berlin and Wethersfield has rapid tests available for the first 75 cars in line or when supplies run out.

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

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