On Monday, as the state experienced an Omicron variant-driven surge in coronavirus cases to a positivity rate of almost 11%, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced plans to distribute three million COVID-19 rapid tests and six million N95 masks in an effort to help curb the spread of COVID-19 during the 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 the iHealth kits is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Thurs., Dec. 30, 2021, and is expected to run through the following week. The Connecticut Department of Public Health, Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and Connecticut National Guard will oversee the distribution of the kits, with support from regional and local emergency management teams. This initiative also will include the distribution of N95 masks. State officials stressed that details of the distribution of the kits and masks are still being finalized and are subject to change this week.
“Connecticut is currently experiencing another surge in COVID-19 cases that is being driven mostly by the highly transmissible Omicron variant,” Governor 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.”
The addition of the at-home tests will immediately expand the number of tests available in Connecticut in a very short period, the Governor added. Last week, about 250,000 tests were reported to the Department of Public Health. Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani asked residents to take only the kits needed for their immediate family so that as many as possible can be distributed “to help flatten the Omicron curve”, but said that the state is distributing enough N95 masks for any Connecticut resident that would like one.
Towns are expected to receive the test kits and masks based upon population and will determine how to distribute them. A number of kits will be reserved for vulnerable populations, which non-profit organizations will receive and determine how to best distribute them to the relevant populations.