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COVID test kits haven’t arrived in CT; Local distributions likely delayed

COVID testing in August, 2020. Anticipated deliveries of home testing kits have been delayed, officials said Wednesday.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public Radio
COVID testing in August, 2020. Anticipated deliveries of home testing kits have been delayed, officials said Wednesday.

The state told local officials Wednesday that at-home COVID-19 testing kits haven’t arrived yet and that they might have to cancel distribution plans that some had scheduled for as early as Thursday.

State officials had expected the kits to arrive by midday Wednesday, but they were apparently stuck on the West Coast, and it is unclear when they will get here. The announcement left many municipal leaders upset that the administration had “overpromised and underdelivered,” leaving them to deal with what they anticipate will be irate residents.

Municipal leaders have been working overtime since Gov. Ned Lamont announced the test distribution at a press conference Monday and told the public that municipal leaders could start distributing kits as early as Thursday. Many had already called in employees to work overtime and possibly on a holiday to distribute the kits.

“Due to shipping and warehouse delays outside of the state of Connecticut’s control, our state’s anticipated shipment of COVID-19 at-home rapid tests are currently delayed from arriving in Connecticut,” Lamont said in a statement. “My staff and multiple state agencies have spent the past several days working around the clock to accelerate the movement of our tests through what is clearly a shipping and distribution bottleneck on the West Coast amid unprecedented international demand for tests.”

Lamont activated the National Guard on Tuesday to handle the distribution across the state. The original plan was to have the National Guard transport the kits from Bradley International Airport to the state’s warehouse in New Britain, where they would be divided and distributed to regional delivery points, where local officials would pick them up.

The National Guard is ready to work overnight to transport the test kits to distribution points, sources said.

The first allocation will include the distribution of 500,000 iHealth kits – each containing two tests for a total of 1 million tests – that will be designated for the general public.

State officials also are planning to distribute 1 million additional iHealth kits to K-12 schools statewide starting in January.

The delay will cause numerous issues for many communities, many of which were already moving quickly to prepare to distribute the test kits.

Several communities have scheduled distributions on Thursday and others on Friday.

Some communities had called in extra personnel to handle the logistics of distributing the kits, including the possibility of doing it on Friday, a holiday. Several had said they have been inundated with phone calls at their offices from residents seeking answers about when they will be distributed.

The state’s 23 testing sites continue to be overwhelmed in advance of New Year’s Eve, with many of them closing early because they ran out of tests. In Bristol on Tuesday, someone allegedly threatened to pull a gun at a testing center.

Last week, about 250,000 tests were reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, numbers that haven’t been seen since the earliest months of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

The state’s case numbers continue to climb on Wednesday, with more than 7,500 cases and the positivity rate at almost 18%.

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