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‘We’re getting hit,’ Lamont says, as testing demand rises alongside COVID-19 variant spread

A medical worker talks to a man going through the testing process at Connecticut's first COVID-19 rapid testing center in New Haven back in April.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public

Connecticut’s daily coronavirus test positivity rate rose to 6.85% on Monday. State public health officials say it’s due to the combined spread of the delta and omicron variants.

“We’re getting hit,” Gov. Ned Lamont said about the combination of highly contagious variants in the state.

The rise in the number of cases comes as more than 90,000 COVID-19 tests were taken by Connecticut residents over the weekend. Lamont told reporters that’s a 30% to 40% jump in demand for testing compared to recent weeks. But he said the state is working to increase capacity.

“Give us a couple weeks, but we are expanding testing every day to make that more available,” Lamont said.

The state will add seven sites and expand hours at 23 existing locations to address capacity issues, according to Lamont. The news comes days after Stamford-based Sema4 announced it would end its contract for testing with the state and would stop operating sites starting in January. The company had been scrutinized for ties to the governor’s wife, Annie Lamont. The Connecticut Mirror reports that of the 23 state testing sites in the state, Sema4 runs 15.

Lamont said another way the state will address testing capacity around the holidays is to pause a statewide testing mandate for certain workers.

“We’re going to pause their mandate for testing just to give a little more flexibility for them and make sure that we have a little extra capacity to provide for testing going forward,” Lamont said.

But state hospital workers will still face a test mandate, according to Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services.