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426,000 rapid at-home COVID-19 tests arrive in Connecticut; Lamont says he will make up the rest from failed deal

Lamont Speaks About Covid Test Delivery
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
Governor Ned Lamont speaks to the press at Connecticut’s COVID-19 commodities warehouse in New Britain after a shipment of over 400,000 at-home rapid tests was delivered. Lamont says the state hopes to start distributing these new tests to high-priority groups. Earlier in the week, a supplier backed out of a deal to sell one million Covid tests to Connecticut at the last minute, leaving municipalities and officials who had planned to distribute tests around the New Year’s holiday in a bind.

Governor Ned Lamont said in an appearance on Friday that his administration is working to bring in more at-home COVID-19 tests after a deal for over one million tests from another supplier fell through at the last minute.

According to Lamont, the state is working with around thirty different suppliers to get as many tests as possible to Connecticut in the coming weeks. 426,000 tests arrived late Thursday night and the state hopes to start distributing these new tests to high-priority groups -- including teachers, frontline workers, and shelters -- immediately.

Lamont declined to comment about why the deal with Jack Rubenstein, LLC fell through, but he said that he had believed the arrangement was airtight.

“We were told, no uncertain terms, even with pictures, that the tests were in the plane. We know that the plane didn’t take off, or it didn’t come to Connecticut, as was contracted via our purchase order,” Lamont said.

He also declined to specify where the old tests went, or where the new tests came from. However, some of the boxes in the warehouse where he gave his press conference had labels that said they were from CVS and originally intended for New York state.

“[The suppliers] are getting the call from forty-nine other governors. When demand outstrips supply, it gives the brokers a certain amount of leverage,” said Lamont. “It’s a little bit of ‘wild west’ out there. I can’t tell you whether they were originally meant for other places. I can tell you that we went up the food chain, we talked to the most senior people we could, we got ourselves to the front of the line. They’re here.”

He said his main focus now was on replacing the lost tests rather than any punitive action toward Jack Rubenstein, LLC.

“I’ve got plenty of time to do post-mortems on this thing. In the meantime, I’m going to get more tests into the state and that’s my prime focus,” Lamont said.

Lamont also commended mayors Luke Bronin and Erin Stewart for taking action on their own to purchase tests for Hartford and New Britain, respectively.

He said he was optimistic that Connecticut’s demand would be met over the next few weeks, and noted that additional tests would be coming in from the federal government.

“We’re going to be in really good shape over the next couple of weeks because they’re ramping production up really fast,” said Lamont.

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