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Free mobile virus testing launched in Connecticut cities

HARTFORD — Expanded free mobile testing for COVID-19, with no prescriptions required, has begun in several Connecticut cities. It's part of the state's effort to ramp-up testing of people living in densely populated areas to help keep tabs on possible flareups. The effort comes amid some concern that not enough city residents are getting tested.

Trinity Health of New England, which is partnering with Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford, will offer testing services for all ages in 19 different locations over the next seven weeks in Hartford, East Hartford, Bloomfield and Windsor three days a week.

“This partnership and program brings free COVID-19 testing into the neighborhoods and backyards of those facing barriers to accessing testing units,” said Dr. Reginald Eadie, president and CEO of Trinity Health of New England. There are plans to offer mobile testing in Waterbury next month.

No appointments will be needed, walk-ups will be welcome and the results will be kept confidential. This effort will be in addition to other testing that has been happening in these communities. Already, the number of Hartford residents who've been tested for COVID-19 has doubled over the past two weeks, said Mayor Luke Bronin, noting there are currently nine permanent testing sites.

“We want everybody to get tested in these weeks ahead,” Bronin said. “It is critical to a successful reopening that we dramatically expand the number of tests that are administered. That testing becomes a routine thing. That it's not something you do once when you have symptoms, it's something you do no matter what, and then you do it again and you do it again.”

But both Bronin and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker have raised concerns that not enough people in their cities are getting tested. Elicker said Wednesday that pop-up testing sites in New Haven that can handle about 100 patients per day often see 30 to 40 people. He said officials “need to do a lot more work messaging to people.”

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont's reopening advisory committee has called for expanding testing from roughly 45,000 tests a week to 200,000 a week by September. Lamont has said he wants about 100,000 tests administered weekly by the time Connecticut begins the second phase of reopening, planned for June 20.

The panel has also recommended more community outreach and support programs to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minorities and people living in poverty in densely populated areas. State figures show black and Hispanic residents have typically had higher rates of infection in many of Connecticut's cities.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, or death.

In other coronavirus news in Connecticut:

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HOSPITALIZATIONS DECREASE

New data released Thursday show 648 people were being treated for COVID-19 in hospitals around the state, a decrease of 23 since Wednesday. Meanwhile, the number of deaths continues to grow. To date, there have been 3,826 COVID-associated deaths, an increase of 23 since Wednesday.

While Fairfield County has had the largest number of COVID deaths, 1,246, Hartford County is not far beyond. New figures show there have been 1,208 confirmed COVID-associated deaths there. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, a Democrat, said Thursday the large number of nursing homes in the capital city may play a role the rate of death.

 

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