Local health care officials are rapidly developing distribution plans for at-home COVID-19 test kits expected from the state on Thursday.
The state Department of Public Health and Department of Emergency Management Services are providing 500,000 antigen kits to municipalities based on population. Each kit contains two tests. The state was able to secure the kits using $18 million in federal funds.
Getting the testing kits during the holiday season was a priority for state officials who saw testing centers overrun and at-home tests at drug stores drained prior to Christmas. They hope people who test positive will stay home to stem the recent surge in positive cases and hospitalizations before people gather for New Year’s and schools reopen next week.
“Connecticut is currently experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases that is being driven mostly by the highly transmissible omicron variant,” Gov. Ned Lamont said in a press statement Monday afternoon. “As a result, the demand for tests has outpaced the supply of testing available through our statewide network of about 400 sites. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is likely to be a period of high transmission, and we have to get 2022 off to a good start by helping residents identify COVID-19 quickly and take those steps to isolate appropriately to curb any further spread.”Meriden
Meriden is expected to receive 7,650 kits for distribution this week, according to estimates provided by the state.
“The city will be distributing 2,000 iHealth COVID-19 rapid self-test kits to residents on Thursday starting at noon on Mill Street near the Meriden Green, said Lea Crown, director of Health and Human Services.
“Kits will be available on a first come, first serve basis,” Crown said in an email. “An additional 5,000 kits will be distributed through community partners during the week of January 3, 2022. These include local non-profits, faith-based organizations, school readiness sites, and community organizations, who will then distribute to their clients or parishioners.”
The Mill Street distribution site is a drive-through event. Each car will receive two kits, each containing two tests. Instructions on what to do if a test comes back positive will be available in English and Spanish. Staff will be distributing 10,000 N95 masks to residents with the home test kits.
“This distribution event is a short-term solution for this week of holiday gatherings and travel,” Crown added. “As additional kits are obtained from the state more distribution events will be planned.”Wallingford, Southington, Cheshire
Southington is expected to receive 5,490 test kits Thursday morning and has opened a distribution site at the Recreation Park concession stand on Maxwell Noble Drive, according to an announcement from town officials. The event runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday until supplies last. N95 masks and surgical masks will also be distributed at the same times. There is a limit of four kits, or 8 tests per person or household.
Wallingford is expected to receive 5,580 kits for its residents on Thursday. Fire Chief Joe Czentnar, who also heads the town’s emergency services department, is working with Public Health Director Stephen Civitelli, and Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. on a distribution plan.
“We’re reacting to this rather quick news and doing the best we can to come up a plan to benefit the residents of Wallingford,” Czentnar said Monday afternoon.
Civitelli said notification about time and locations to residents will come from Dickinson’s office once the kits are picked up at the Region 2 distribution center in North Haven.
The town of Cheshire, which belongs to the Chesprocott Regional Health District, is expected to receive 3,600 kits for that town alone.
“The distribution process is being determined by each municipality,” said Chesprocott Executive Director Maura Esposito. “At this time, all three towns have asked to receive these free kits. Each town is holding meetings today to determine the logistics and I’m sure they will inform their residents.”
In a separate announcement Tuesday, town officials said the free test kits would be distributed to Cheshire residents at Cheshire High School on Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. or until all test kits are distributed. Proof of residency is required. Each kit contains two tests and there is a limit of four kits per household. The event is drive-through, and all vehicle occupants must wear a face covering. Treatment arrives
Another tool in fighting the pandemic and lower hospitalizations is the arrival of Food and Drug Administration approved COVID-19 treatments, Lamont said Monday.
On Tuesday, Hartford HealthCare officials announced the network had received 140 five-day treatments in its first shipment of Pfizer’s Paxlovid. HHC is the parent company of MidState Medical Center in Meriden and The Hospital of Central Connecticut.
“There’s never been a time when we’ve had multiple therapies that benefit the patients,” said Dr. Ulysses Wu of Hartford HealthCare. “The medicine could be a game changer. It could keep them out of the hospital and not dying. But it’s not a substitute for vaccinations and boosters that are still very important.”
But Wu cautioned, just like the release of the first few vaccines, the supply is going to be very limited and eligibility criteria will be restrictive as production ramps up.