Connecticut to use rapid COVID-19 tests in schools

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Ned Lamont said Tuesday that Connecticut expects to receive about 1 million new rapid tests for the new coronavirus from the federal government and will use them to help make sure schools stay open.

His remarks came as the state reported finding 182 new cases of the virus out of 10,380 tests conducted since Monday. That is a rate of 1.75%, the state’s highest since June.

Lamont said the state is expecting to receive 69,000 of the rapid tests next week. He said they also will be used in settings such as nursing homes, day care centers, prisons, and for the state’s rapid-response team to deal with any virus outbreaks.

“It compliments all the testing we’re doing right now — the PCR testing in nursing homes, vulnerable populations,” Lamont said. “It’s just one more arrow in our quiver.”

The tests will come from a previously announced national supply of 150 million ordered from Abbott Laboratories. The company’s rapid test, the size of a credit card, is the first that does not require specialty computer equipment to process. It delivers results in about 15 minutes.

Lamont said the tests can be given to students and teachers who may have symptoms or may have come in contact with the virus, eliminating the need for them to quarantine or for their schools to close.

Lamont said the tests could also be used by athletic teams to prevent the further cancelation of high school sports seasons.

But Josh Geballe, Lamont’s chief operating officer, said the state will be strategic in rolling out the tests.

“If you think about 600,000 teachers and students across the state, we can go through these fairly quickly,” he said.

The governor also announced that Connecticut will be using a new contact tracing telephone app developed by Google and Apple. The program will keep track of who comes in close contact with the phone and notify those people automatically should the user be diagnosed with COVID-19.

Lamont said the companies are taking privacy concerns into consideration and promised the data would be anonymous and not used for any other purpose.

“Anonymity is really important,” Lamont said. “Because it’s not simply a matter of this being available, it is 10 times more effective if 10 times more people feel comfortable having this app on their smart phone.”

Connecticut has recorded 57,329 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The number of people hospitalized with the virus increased Tuesday by 17 patients to 92 across the state. Two more coronavirus-related deaths were reported, bringing Connecticut’s total to 4,505, according to state data.

The state also revised its travel advisory list, adding Colorado and removing Virginia and Arizona from the list of places from which travelers to Connecticut would be required to quarantine for 14 days.

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