A promised order of 3 million COVID-19 at-home tests, about 1 million of which were supposed to be distributed to the public by local municipalities and public health districts, has fallen through but Gov. Ned Lamont said Thursday he expects “a lot more testing” to come to the state in the next 72 hours.

Dr. Manisha Juthani, the state’s public health commissioner, said “things were misrepresented” to state officials by the vendor, which previously worked with the state to secure personal protective equipment earlier during the pandemic.

"We were given pictures and confirmation that the product was being loaded and on the way. Those were misrepresented to us,” she said, adding how the state had a contract with the vendor and a purchase agreement, but that no money exchanged hands.

Lamont, a Democrat, likened the situation to the early days of the pandemic when the state struggled to obtain PPE.

“There are a lot of brokers in this game. It’s not like you just walk into Wal-Mart and say, ’Here’s the price. It’s $7.' You put down seven and you get it,” he said. “You’re working through brokers and there are a lot of people putting money on the table and trucks were turning around."

Lamont acknowledged state officials “got a little ahead of ourselves, to tell you the truth" in first announcing the procurement.

Lamont said Monday that cities and towns would start to receive allotments of the hard-to-find rapid tests beginning Wednesday. He also called up about 100 members of the Connecticut National Guard to help with the distribution. Some municipalities planned to give out the two-dose test kits as early as Thursday, but postponed those plans after getting word that the state's shipment had not yet arrived. The National Guard still distributed about 1 million N95 masks Thursday.

Max Reiss, a spokesperson for the governor, said state officials began making arrangements with other vendors to obtain kits when it appeared the original deal was falling through.

“We're going to have a lot more testing coming in the next 72 hours” and in time for schools reopening after the holiday break, said Lamont.

Meanwhile, the president of the state's largest teachers union said in a message sent to members on Thursday that the Connecticut Education Association is pushing for “consistent protocols and safety standards,” including testing and infection monitoring, before schools reopen next week.

A spokesperson from CEA stressed the union is not calling for a return to full remote learning, but the letter states that an ongoing survey of local union presidents has so far found that most so far prefer a fully remote learning option at this time, calling the current COVID situation “a perfect storm.”

“So far the state has been reluctant to allow remote options, but with a surge in the positivity rate, an increase in the number of children contracting the virus, inadequate supplies of N95 masks and at-home COVID tests, and the lack of consistent protocols regarding at-home testing, we will continue to stress the need for stronger actions to protect our school communities,” wrote CEA President Kate Dias.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 1,824, an increase of 68.7%.

There were 1,412 new cases per 100,000 people in Connecticut over the past two weeks, which ranks ninth in the country for new cases per capita. One in every 114 people in Connecticut tested positive in the past week, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins. New state data released Thursday show there were more than 7,700 positive cases reported to the state since Wednesday, while the number of COVID hospitalizations grew by 38 since Wednesday, for a total of 1,151.

Meanwhile, the number COVID-associated deaths has grown by 83 since last Thursday, for a total of 9,160.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said his city still plans to resume in-person schooling Monday following the holiday break, noting the city has secured enough testing kits to make sure it can test essential employees, including teachers.

Iline Tracey, the city's superintendent of schools, said switching to entirely remote learning is a decision that can only be made by the governor or the General Assembly. She noted that the schools have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment.

In the meantime, Elicker said local officials will continue to monitor the data and will make classes remote on a case-by-case basis as they receive information about infections.

“Families should be prepared for the possibility that their class may go remote or even multiple classes or even potentially a school may go remote if there are so many cases or if there is a lot of staffing shortages that they need to do that," he said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.