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Connecticut COVID Positivity Rate Soars, Millions of At-Home Tests On the Way

December 27, 2021

On a day when Connecticut’s COVID-19 positivity rate exceeded 10 percent for the first time ever and people struggled to find testing, Gov. Ned Lamont announced plans to distribute three million at-home rapid tests and six million N95 masks in Connecticut. With the demand for testing soaring, Lamont announced efforts to help meet the demand while experts urged residents to take precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 during this heavy travel and holiday season. The first allocation will include the distribution of 500,000 iHealth kits — each containing two tests for a total of one million tests — that will be designated for the general public. Distribution of these kits is scheduled to begin on Thursday, December 30, 2021, and is expected to run through the following week. “Connecticut is currently experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases that is being driven mostly by the highly transmissible Omicron variant,” Gov. Lamont said. “As a result, the demand for tests has outpaced the supply of testing available through our statewide network of about 400 sites. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is likely to be a period of high transmission, and we have to get 2022 off to a good start by helping residents identify COVID-19 quickly and take those steps to isolate appropriately to curb any further spread.” Dr. Ulysses Wu, Hartford HealthCare’s System Director of Infectious Disease and Chief Epidemiologist, said the at-home rapid tests will be helpful as long as people don’t totally rely on them and they continue to be vigilant with vaccination, masking and social distancing. “People shouldn’t rely on a negative test if there is a high suspicion that they have COVID,” said Dr. Wu, noting that the virus takes time to incubate. “There are three simple and effective interventions to fight off the current surge of COVID-19 from the Omicron variant — vaccination, masking, and testing,” Connecticut Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has granted emergency use authorization for the iHealth COVID-19 antigen rapid test, which is completed with an anterior nasal swab and is not the deep nasal test. Results are usually available in 15 minutes. More information on the iHealth antigen home test kits is available at ihealthlabs.com. Juthani strongly encouraged people to limit gathering sizes during this holiday week. “Because of the scarcity of these kits, I am asking the residents of our state to please take only the kits that you need for your immediate family so that we can distribute as many as possible to help flatten the Omicron curve,” Juthani said. “Per the CDC recommendations, if your self-test yields a positive result, please stay home or isolate for 10 days and wear a mask. There is no need to obtain a follow up PCR test. Given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant, it is most important to wear any mask both in public spaces and when interacting in close contact with individuals outside of your household, but an N95 mask will provide better protection. We are distributing enough N95 masks for any Connecticut resident that would like one.” Vaccination continues to be the best way to fight COVID. “Residents who have not been vaccinated should get their COVID-19 vaccine now and can do so by visiting ct.gov/covidvaccine,” Juthani said. “For all vaccinated people 16 and older that are eligible for a booster, please get one as soon as possible. For all school-age children 5 and older that are not vaccinated yet, please use this school break to get vaccinated. Vaccination saves lives and keeps people who get COVID out of the hospital.” Information on the approximately 400 COVID-19 testing sites currently operating in Connecticut is available by calling 2-1-1 or visiting 211CT.org. For the latest on COVID, visit www.hartfordhealthcare.org/covid