Lamont says the state has 426,000 COVID tests; hospitals restrict visitors


A day after revealing that a plan to distribute 1.5 million COVID-19 home tests had collapsed, Governor Ned Lamont said on Friday that the state had obtained 426,000 tests for distribution.

The test kits were delivered in the middle of the night or early Friday morning, Lamont said at a press conference at the Connecticut COVID-19 product warehouse in New Britain, and more are expected to arrive as well. later that day on Friday.

Lamont urges municipalities to prioritize testing for those in need.

“If you have symptoms, get tested. If you go to school on Monday, public safety worker facing people in the public, feel that maybe you have something going on, take a test. Otherwise, it can hold up a bit, ”said Lamont.

The state plans to have more tests available in the coming weeks. Lamont said he has had several conversations with distributors, putting himself in the front line for testing.

The tests seen in the warehouse were BinaxNOW tests, not the previously advertised iHealth home tests.

As for the schools, Lamont said they will be open as planned and if teachers and educators want to get tested before they come back, they have a test.

The state has also told schools that if someone is immunocompromised, someone at home is in danger, or someone needs to self-quarantine, schools are allowed to allow distance learning.

“We want everyone to go back to school,” Lamont said. “We know there is no trade-off with in-person learning. We found out a year and a half ago that we could do this safely. I believe that on this omicron day we will also be able to do it safely. “

Lamont cited N95 masks, vaccines and booster shots as ways for teachers to stay safe.

On Friday morning, the governor said more than 850,000 N95 masks had been distributed by Thursday and a further 890,000 are expected to be distributed by Friday.

Also on Friday, amid an increase in COVID cases and a test positivity rate that reached 20% on Thursday, some state hospital systems announced significant restrictions in visitor policies.

The Yale-New Haven healthcare system will limit visits to expectant mothers in labor, dying patients, pediatric patients and people with disabilities. Yale’s Dr Thomas Balcezak said that at Yale New Haven Hospital, 19 children are admitted with COVID, including five in intensive care. This total is higher than last year, he said.

The system quintupled the number of COVID patients through December, including 285 at Yale New Haven Hospital, 131 at Bridgeport Hospital and 51 at Greenwich Hospital. Of these, 76 are in intensive care and 49 on a ventilator.

Hospital staff are “tired and frustrated,” said Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna P. Borgstrom. She said vaccinations and boosters continue to provide significant protection against serious illness.

Nuvance Health also announced restrictions for visitors on Friday.

“As of today, visits to Nuvance Health emergency departments are temporarily suspended, except in extenuating circumstances and special populations,” the health system said in a statement.

Nuvance includes the hospitals of Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk and Sharon.

Lamont said tests that arrived in Connecticut came from multiple sources. He did not say what the cost to the state was. The 213,000 test kits each contain two tests.

The announcement came less than a day after Lamont’s plan to deliver 500,000 home-based COVID-19 test kits to residents of the state before New Years Eve derailed when the agreement to purchase the tests of iHealth based in California, through a distributor, failed.

Initially, the state had promised the tests to towns and villages for distribution to residents as early as Wednesday, but the schedule was pushed back to Thursday and then canceled.

Lamont said Thursday the shipment containing the 500,000 kits was not on its way but more shipments would be, adding that more tests should be available within 72 hours.

“We had an agreement to get these rapid tests. We’re not going to get them on the schedule we wanted. There were serious transport and logistical problems, ”Lamont said Thursday evening. “We have alternative locations that will start providing rapid testing as of this weekend. We will fill this shortfall quickly.

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