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Millions of masks, rapid at-home tests to be delivered throughout state: Lamont

Distribution of the kits are scheduled to begin on Thursday, December 30, and is expected to run through the following week.

CONNECTICUT, USA — Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday that his administration plans on distributing three million COVID-19 at-home rapid tests, and six million N95 masks in Connecticut in an effort to help curb rising cases. 

According to Lamont, the first allocation will include the distribution of 500,000 iHealth kits. The kits will contain two tests for a total of one million tests. The kits will be designated for the general public.

Distribution of the kits are scheduled to begin on Thursday, December 30, and is expected to run through the following week.

“That means in terms of some of our hardest hit populations, some of our congregate settings, some of our homeless shelters -- make sure those fast acting tests are there so we can make sure that you know that you’re safe and if you’re not safe, how to make sure we keep you quarantined and keep everyone around you safe,” Lamont said.

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The governor added that Connecticut's current surge in COVID-19 cases is being driven mostly by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

“As a result, the demand for tests has outpaced the supply of testing available through our statewide network of about 400 sites," Lamont added. "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.”

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The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CT DPH), 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 stress that details of the distribution of the kits and N95 masks are still being finalized and are subject to change this week.

“There are three simple and effective interventions to fight off the current surge of COVID-19 from the Omicron variant – vaccination, masking, and testing,” CT DPH Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani said. “We will be distributing two of these – masks and tests – so that our communities can work as quickly as possible to get past this surge. I strongly encourage people to limit gathering sizes during this holiday week. Because of the scarcity of these kits, I am asking the residents of our state to please take only the kits that you need for your immediate family so that we can distribute as many as possible to help flatten the Omicron curve. Per the CDC recommendations, if your self-test yields a positive result, please stay home or isolate for 10 days and wear a mask. There is no need to obtain a follow up PCR test. Given the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variant, it is most important to wear any mask both in public spaces and when interacting in close contact with individuals outside of your household, but an N95 mask will provide better protection. We are distributing enough N95 masks for any Connecticut resident that would like one.”

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Dr. Juthani continued: “At least what we’re doing is providing people with the tools to be able to know that they need to stay home if they’re symptomatic."

In addition to those designated for the general public, the state has purchased another one million iHealth kits – each containing two tests for a total of two million tests – that will be distributed to K-12 schools statewide. 

Distribution of those kits, which will also include a supply of N95 masks, will begin in January and continue through the school year as supplies last.

Planning for this initiative is being conducted in partnership with the Connecticut State Department of Education. More details on the distribution of tests for schools will be announced in early January, Lamont said. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is also pushing to expand testing, calling on the federal government to make rapid testing more widely available through the Defense Production Act at a news conference outside Hartford hospital Monday.

“These tests are literally key to the United States returning to normal and the world so we need more of them,” Blumenthal said.

The governor said that the addition of these at-home tests will immediately expand the number of tests available in Connecticut in a very short period. Last week, about 250,000 tests were reported to CT DPH. 

The total cost of the three million tests is approximately $18.5 million and will be funded through federal funds.

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