NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — 426,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits came into the pipeline on Friday to be distributed among Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns that were left waiting for them.
The kits are being stored in the state’s commodity warehouse for emergency response in New Britain, but they won’t stay there long. The kits will be taken by the National Guard to five distribution hubs across the state, where town and city leaders will pick them up and then distribute them to their residents.
Unfortunately, it won’t be done before people gather for New Year’s Eve.
Friday’s shipments arrived overnight and throughout the morning.
“426,000 tests overnight and more to come,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, who held a news conference Friday morning to announce their arrival.
The COVID-19 rapid test kits were branded as Flowflex, QuickVue and Binax NOW. According to their shipping labels, many of them were originally exported from China to California and then sent to New York and Rhode Island before being diverted to Connecticut with help of CVS.
“I can’t tell you whether they were originally meant for other places. I can tell you that they are here,” said Lamont.
What isn’t here are the 500,000 iHealth Labs test kits that the state said would arrive by plane on Thursday.
The state then said the shipping was delayed and then switched to say they wouldn’t be coming at all, and that their guarantee was "misrepresented" by the company, which is iHealth Labs.
iHealth Labs has an ‘F’ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
“I can’t tell you about their BBB rating. I can tell you they were rated and approved by the FDA,” said Lamont.
The state’s commodity warehouse is stocked floor to ceiling with everything from masks to sanitizers. They’ve been procured since the beginning of the pandemic.
FOX61 asked the governor if these COVID test kits were "a day late and a dollar short" and whether they should have been stockpiled months ago.
“Yeah. I would say everything going back two years has been a day late and a dollar short,” responded Lamont.
Lamont told FOX61 that trying to procure supplies when demand is high leads to a bit of a wild west marketplace. But with the kits here now and more coming, communities are revamping their distribution plans. The town of Wethersfield posted that they won’t be receiving the kits until next week.
Republican Mayor Erin Stewart of New Britain, where the state commodity warehouse is located, called Friday’s news conference a “photo op.”
“We still don’t know how they are planning to divide those up for each municipality. So we don’t know how many we would have access to. The only question we have been asked is how quickly could we mobilize a pickup,” explained Mayor Stewart.
RELATED: Hartford hands out thousands of COVID-19 testing kits as other cities and towns face delays
Stewart said they are looking tentatively at a distribution on Tuesday, but also said if they don’t get a lot of test kits the ones they do get may get prioritized for elderly housing complexes instead.
In the meantime, Stewart told FOX61 that New Britain has worked with their existing PCR testing partners to expand access by adding additional days and opening a new site.
Friday’s shipment was a separate order from the one the state originally said would arrive by plane on Thursday.
Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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