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COVID-19 test demand rises alongside back-to-school concerns

Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
COVID-19 testing facilities report long lines and say they're struggling to meet demand ahead of New Year's Eve and the end of the holiday break.

State and local leaders in Connecticut are trying to increase access to testing, especially for essential workers like teachers. But a failed plan to bring in millions of at-home test kits this week may delay that goal.

Gov. Ned Lamont unveiled a shipment of N95 masks to be distributed to essential workers, before he told reporters a deal to purchase millions of at-home rapid test kits for distribution to Connecticut municipalities fell through. State officials said in the end, a wholesaler did not deliver on the order. Lamont said the state is now looking to other suppliers to fulfill its testing needs.

“My hope is that we’re going to have a lot more tests, rapid tests, very soon, hopefully in time for the new school year, which is Jan. 3, and make sure that our kids and our teachers and our paras have the confidence that they can get back to school safely.”

Cities like New Haven have purchased their own small supply of at-home tests with essential workers being a priority. Mayor Justin Elicker said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that he hopes the tests will make it easier to keep schools open.

“Ensuring that our essential workforce in the New Haven Public Schools ... are able to quickly get tested so that they can get back to work to keep our community safe, keep our children in school and make sure that we do so in a safe way.”

Local officials worry that the growing coronavirus outbreak could lead to more absences among education staff and students.