Local distribution of free, at-home COVID-19 test kits begins

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Local distribution of free, at-home COVID-19 test kits and masks began Monday with a drive-through event in Southington, where residents lined up hours in advance in some cases and supplies were quickly exhausted.

Separate distribution events were announced in Meriden, Wallingford and Cheshire, the first of which are scheduled for Tuesday in Wallingford and Cheshire. 

The Meriden event is set for Saturday, Jan. 8.

Southington officials received a limited quantity of supplies from the state and began distributing them at 4 p.m. at the Southington Drive-In on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike Monday.

Last week, distribution events were planned but canceled when state officials failed to get kits from a supplier. Kits and masks have since come in and were distributed to Meriden, Wallingford and Cheshire.

Drivers followed signs to the Southington distribution site which was at the drive-in pavilion area.

The town received about 3,000 kits, down from about 5,400 that were originally expected. 

“It’s extremely important,” Susan Lonczak said about distributing the kits. “...People need the tests right now. It’s critical to get the kits out.”

Jay Baker, the town’s emergency management director, said each car received two at-home test kits, each with two tests per kit. Occupants had to stay in their cars and were asked to have identification ready.

Only Southington residents could get kits and masks at the event. A handful of non-residents came through and were turned away. Police were allowing cars in batches to make sure there wasn’t a backup and to keep the event going as smoothly as possible. 

Baker said they received the kits on New Year’s Eve and he and other employees worked Saturday and Sunday to prepare for the distrubution event. Police were at the site at 7 a.m. Monday setting up cones and signs. The first resident came in at about 11 a.m. and said she was fine waiting, that she brought a book, Officer Dave Schneider said. 

The last kits and masks were handed out just after 6 p.m. Police, fire, CERT and town employees were all on hand. Town manager Mark Sciota was checking identifications and speaking with residents as they came through. 

Surgical and N95 masks were also provided.


Wallingford has a distribution event scheduled for Tuesday at the Oakdale Theater, 95 South Turnpike Road. Police Chief John Ventura asked residents not to line up earlier than the 4 p.m. start time and not to interfere with the normal operation of the theater.

Those looking to get a test kit will have to show proof of Wallingford residency.


Cheshire officials also announced they’d be distributing test kits and masks Tuesday at Quinnipiac Park, 1325 Cheshire St., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or until supplies are exhausted.

Proof of town residency is required. Each household can get two test kits.

Sean Kimball, Cheshire Town Manager, said the town has more than 1,400 kits.

“The state has prioritized this limited quantity of supplies for symptomatic or high-risk individuals and frontline workers. We encourage those Cheshire residents who have been exposed to a COVID positive individual or who are experiencing cold like symptoms, to pick up a self-test,” Kimball said Monday.


Lea Crown, Meriden health and uman services director, said the city received 4,500 test kits and plans to distribute them on Saturday. They’ll be given out to city residents starting at 10 a.m. at Lincoln Middle School, 164 Centennial Ave., and Edison Middle School, 1355 North Broad St.

Crown said the city also has a supply of N95 masks that will be given out as well. Both masks and kits are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Distribution is a drive-through event and residents must stay in their cars and have proof of residency available.



Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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