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City of Hartford distributes its own COVID-19 test kits, after state shipment delay

Hartford officials purchased and distributed around 8,000 COVID-19 test kits, each containing two rapid-antigen tests, and handed them out at sites across the city this week. It was one of the only places in Connecticut to get a free kit on Thursday, after the city’s planned shipment of 15,000 additional test kits from the state faced delays.

Hartford was allotted 30,000 of the state-supplied test, but Mayor Luke Bronin had already purchased 10,000 kits. When Bronin heard about the state’s delay, he decided to immediately hand out 8,000 of Hartford’s kits.

“We wanted to try to get these tests out there as effectively and as accessibly as we can,” Bronin said. “That’s why we partnered with our libraries, rec centers and our existing testing locations so that we’d have a number of distribution points around the city that were accessible for folks who might not have access to cars as well.”

Some residents lined up around the block at Hartford Public Library hours before the giveaway started, according to Marie Jarry, director of public services at the Hartford library. Many said they were hoping to get a kit because they had difficulty getting tested elsewhere.

“Unfortunately all these clinics or urgent cares, they’re like super booked and you can’t get a test anywhere. I tried probably five different urgent cares this week alone,” said Corinne Krasner, a Hartford resident who received a test kit.

Rodney Barco, head of the city’s Emergency Management Department, said the operation went smoothly.

“We got our deliveries out to our sites on time, and we hired enough staff to help with our delivery, so hopefully everyone will get one,” said Barco.

As of Thursday afternoon, four of the seven distribution sites had given away all of their kits.

Bronin acknowledged that a few thousand test kits would not be enough to meet the recent surge in demand and said he hoped to continue this effort into 2022.