STAMFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — One million test kits were delivered to towns and cities across Connecticut over the weekend and distributed to residents, but it’s not enough. Town by town, the kits were gone in just a few hours.
The latest COVID-19 spike includes omicron in every county, including Fairfield where the city of Stamford has seen a 26% increase in cases.
Mayor Caroline Simmons, the Democratic leader in Stamford, said there is a silver lining.
“While we have seen a spike in cases, the acuity has been much less severe,” Simmons said.
People aren’t getting as sick she says because 97% of Stamford has initiated a vaccination to fight COVID-19. The city is second in the state behind West Hartford.
Connecticut’s Commissioner of the Department of Public Health Dr. Manisha Juthani said Monday’s high positivity rate of 21.5% is concerning.
“Throughout our state, 70 to 80% of the people in the hospital are unvaccinated,” Juthani said. “The unvaccinated have reason to be scared.”
This is why she is pushing testing, whether at a clinic or using state-issued at-home tests.
Juthani said it’s important to track the phases of COVID-19, though she admits at-home test results are not recorded by the state.
Meantime, state lawmakers pleaded with Gov. Ned Lamont and Juthani in a bipartisan push to expand testing access for residents.
“So, they can continue to move forward and that we don’t suffer the standstill that struck us nearly a year and a half ago,” State Sen. Tony Hwang, a ranking Republican on the Legislature’s Public Health Committee, said.
Stamford’s Democratic State Sen. Patricia Billie Miller added while looking at Juthani, “I’m also here to advocate for more testing sites. I know you’ve done a stellar job making sure individuals get appointments. But how long does it take to get an appointment?”
People told News 8 the long lines and hours of waiting are frustrating. After last week’s doomed deal to get three million more test kits, one million were delivered from a different source. Stamford got 40,000.
N95 masks are also being distributed.
Lamont said the supply chain is slowly unclogging.
“We can’t have everyone rush the gate for the test at the same time,” the governor said. “I urge a little bit of common sense here.”
Five hundred million test kits nationwide should be purchased by the end of the month from the federal government. How many will be sent to Connecticut is unclear.
Hartford bought its own supply of 10,000 at-home kits and handed out a majority last week. The capital city received another 9,000 kits Sunday from the state. Stamford has handed out 40,000 test kits. Stamford Hospital has performed 340,000 COVID-19 tests.
The infectious disease leadership at the Stamford Health Organization breaks down when you should use the at-home rapid test.
“Recommends that the tests at home should not be broken open as soon as someone gets home with them,” Kathleen Silard, the CEO of Stamford Health, said. “If you believe you have had significant exposure, or if you are symptomatic, then you should test. If you have only had an exposure, you should actually wait for five days from the time you had the exposure to test, so you can get an accurate test result.”
She said the rapid tests being handed out are a good safety net for households to have on hand in case something changes in their household.
Meantime, the governor was asked whether he would require a statewide mask mandate.
“Overwhelmingly, the people of Connecticut are doing the right thing….wearing the mask,” Lamont said. “I don’t want to put counter pressures on and [create] rebellion and have people fight against it.”