HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A new partnership was announced Tuesday in an effort to boost coronavirus testing in Connecticut. The state has put out a call for proposals from other companies to do testing.
Hartford HealthCare and Quest Diagnostics have joined forces to increase the amount of COVID-19 testing done in Connecticut. The new partnership will increase Hartford HealthCare’s testing capacity by 2,500 tests per day.
It’s estimated that 40 percent of people who have the virus don’t show symptoms, so the governor also wants to launch random testing.
“This venture between Quest Labs and Hartford HealthCare is just so important in what it that means in our being able to ramp up testing capability and to see who is infected,” Governor Ned Lamont said.
“That is why the special partnership is important because it is going to allow us to go to scale, so we can dramatically increase our capabilities and make it far more broadly available,” added Jeffrey Flaks, CEO Hartford HealthCare. “The state as a whole will see an 80 percent increase over the next several days as we go forward; so much greater access to testing. It’s a big part of how we get to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis.”
The state also joined the agreement, allowing for relaxing regulations to broaden the availability of testing beyond hospitals and other healthcare settings in underserved communities.
Hartford HealthCare also plans to add mobile testing units and will look into antibody testing to see whether or not a person had the virus and how much immunity they have.
Officials said they are not sure how long antibodies stay in the system and if someone can get the virus a second time.
“We have a number of our hospitals around the state that are already doing antibody testing right now,” Lamont said. “We are focused on first responders, seeing who of those folks have been infected to see who has built up the antibodies.”
“Those antibodies will provide some immunity for a period of time,” added Steve Rusckowski, CEO Quest Diagnostics. “If you look at other viruses, we have seen this with other viruses, and we are hopeful that will be the case with covert as well.”
Flaks said Hartford HealthCare is already in the early stages of antibody testing for first responders and front line workers.
“Part of the partnership with Quest will bring antibody testing more broadly throughout Connecticut. Antibody testing is a blood test so it doesn’t have some of the restrictions and exposure aspects.”
Lamont said PPE is needed to do this testing, adding that 100,000 N95 masks came in Tuesday, and almost 1,000,000 surgical masks came this week. More are expected to arrive soon.