HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont Wednesday announced that as of Wednesday, more than one million COVID-19 PCR-based diagnostic tests have been recorded in Connecticut – a major accomplishment that has helped the state remain one of the few in the nation to keep the virus contained to low levels of transmission throughout the summer.
“I am incredibly proud of the work that our agencies, state-contracted laboratories, and testing partners have done to ensure that we have a test available for everyone who needs one in our state,” Governor Lamont said. “This is a significant milestone, but we have to continue these efforts and keep going. We’re committed to moving forward with initiatives that keep testing available in the state to protect our residents, maintain the progress of our safe reopening, and get children back to school. I want to thank our partners in both the public and private sectors that have made this milestone a reality.”
The state has implemented a variety of new and innovative efforts to ensure that testing is accessible for all residents with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been exposed to COVID-19. The state has also created new, targeted testing programs to provide routine testing for those at greater risk to exposure including those living or working in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, direct care workers and clients, offenders and staff at correctional facilities, residential college students and other individuals who live in congregate or group housing and densely populated urban communities.
This testing strategy, developed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health with support from public health and scientific experts on the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group, focused on developing testing capacity at in-state labs and with local health care providers and has been instrumental in maintaining rapid turnaround times even as other states have experienced significant spikes in cases. During the month of August, the median time for a Connecticut test result to be delivered has been one day, and 75 percent of tests have been returned in two days or less. This is in stark comparison to reports from other states, where test results often take a week or more to return, rendering contract tracing and isolation strategies ineffective.
To support the state’s testing efforts, Governor Lamont has allocated at least $250 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to support testing.
“Connecticut’s ability to significantly bolster its testing capacity – thanks to the incredible work of our agencies, testing partners and state-contracted labs – has proven to be a critical tool in addressing the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said. “Connecticut went from a state with one of the highest infection rates to one of the lowest because of our ability to test, treat, and track. This is especially important as students of all ages get ready to head back to school and businesses continue to reopen. Now more than ever, we must remain vigilant and continue to encourage residents to get tested, wear their masks, and practice proper social distancing.”
“In addition to wearing a mask, social distancing, and isolation and quarantine when needed, the ability to test for COVID-19 is critical to informing our public health strategy to keep as many people safe and healthy as we reopen our economy and children go back to school,” Acting Public Health Commissioner Deidre S. Gifford, MD MPH, said. “Connecticut has relentlessly pursued creating as much testing capacity as possible, working with in-state labs to greatly expand testing and reduce the delays seen in other states for getting results. We have also focused on providing easily available testing for high risk populations with no out of pocket costs for the individual. This is very important as an early warning system for any potential outbreaks. We continue to look for innovative ways to grow our testing efforts in conjunction with subject matter experts in and outside of government by exploring more broad-based methods like saliva testing and pool testing. I look forward to continuing the progress we have already made.”
“Testing our state’s essential and frontline workers has been an important part of our strategy,” State Comptroller Kevin Lembo said. “By utilizing rapid contracting with Connecticut labs, hospitals, and health systems, we’ve implemented aggressive and well-executed testing programs so our state’s direct care workers can continue providing critical services to those in need.”
“Connecticut has executed on a testing and public health strategy that has allowed us to safely reopen 95 percent of our economy,” Economic and Community Development Commissioner Lehman said. “Our business community has embraced the steps required to keep us on track, including the state’s testing strategy. I know that we can do what it takes to reopen if we continue the progress we’ve made in testing.”
Any resident who has symptoms of COVID-19 should be tested – and anyone who lives in a densely populated area, or in congregate housing should be tested regularly, whether they have symptoms or not.
Visit ct.gov/coronavirus to find one of the over 160 Connecticut testing locations closest to you.
The Departments of Public Health, Social Services, Agriculture, and Housing, the Office of the State Comptroller, Connecticut’s Congressional delegation, federally qualified health centers, Hartford Health Care, the Yale New Haven Health System, Griffin Hospital, PhysicianOne, Eastern Connecticut Health Network, Waterbury Hospital, Stamford Hospital, and many other community partners, including municipal leaders, legislative leaders, local public health officials and members of the faith community continue to participate in this effort.
State-contracted laboratories that have processed hundreds of thousands of tests quickly include Genesys Diagnostics, the Jackson Laboratories, Yale New Haven Health System, Sema4, and Quest Diagnostics.