Virus Testing Facilities Throughout State See Extremely Lengthy Strains As Demand Spikes – CBS New York

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HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork / AP) – A surge in demand for coronavirus testing before Thanksgiving has resulted in hour-long queues across Connecticut as providers scramble to add capacity and hire new staff.

This is despite the recent addition of 60 new test sites in the past few weeks, bringing the total to 260 sites across the state.

“We’re doing 20 times more tests than a few months ago,” said Governor Ned Lamont.

Leslie Gianelli, a spokesman for Community Health Center, Inc., which operates 15 test sites across the state, said the wait at those facilities on Thursday was more than two hours.

Similar waiting times have been reported by Hartford HealthCare at its eight locations.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The governor’s office said it is working with all of its testing partners to increase staffing levels, open more test lanes in existing facilities, and extend operating hours.

Gianelli said they are currently trying to hire about 100 additional staff, from administrative support to nurses who can run the tests.

Captain Dave Pytlik, a Connecticut National Guard spokesman, said they had deployed about 50 Guard soldiers and Airmen to help out at test sites.

“Sometimes this is administrative support, sometimes processing the samples, sometimes the smears,” he said.

MORE: Connecticut coronavirus cases continue to increase after reopening rollback

Hartford HealthCare said it will test between 30,000 and 40,000 this week. There are plans to open a new transit center at Bradley International Airport on Monday and recently relocated the Hartford centers to the Convention Center and Norwich to Dodd Stadium to increase testing capacity.

“We are certainly not seeing a decrease in the number of tests that we will need,” said Dr. James Cardon, who leads Hartford HealthCare’s testing program. “We appreciate everyone’s patience, but we understand that this is difficult. However, we are uniquely focused on improving ourselves so that people are not disturbed as much as they are now. “

He said the system gives priority to those who are due to undergo medical procedures for the first few hours each day.

Thursday’s report from Lamont’s office showed 36,339 tests performed, with 2,353 positive tests reported.

Connecticut’s seven-day average positivity rate for seven days has increased in the past two weeks from 3.75% on November 4th to 5.55% on Wednesday.

MORE: Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont: Approximately 80% of the state under COVID-19 Red Alert

State health officials calculate the positivity rate differently across the country, but for Connecticut, the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases through test samples based on data from the COVID Tracking Project.

Dr. Ajay Kumar, Hartford HealthCare’s chief clinical officer, said he and other state medical experts expect the current surge in coronavirus cases to peak in late December.

“In terms of hospital stays, we will be just below what we were (in the spring),” he said. “We’ll reach about 1,500 to 1,600 patients in Connecticut at some point.”

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1- (888) -364-3065 | to NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1- (800) -222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID at 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

In other coronavirus-related news:

Health corps

Lamont said he is starting a Connecticut Health Corps that people can volunteer with to help during the pandemic.

His office is creating a website that recruits emergency faculty staff in under-staffed districts, contacts the state, staff at test sites, and other jobs.

Lamont made a special appeal to students, many of whom are coming home for the remainder of their fall semester and vacation.

“We have a little fire on our hands and the more people we have in the Bucket Brigade, the safer it is for each of you,” he said.

Youth sports

Lamont announced that he has banned all youth sports in the state through January 19.

This coincides with the date set earlier this week by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for the start of the high school winter sports season.

The governor had previously allowed medium-risk youth sports such as hockey and basketball to continue if the children involved wore masks while playing.

Lamont said the move, which goes into effect Monday, was due to breakouts between sports teams resulting from 17 school closings and the quarantine of 235 teachers.

“This is the best way to keep your schools open a little longer,” he said.

Hospital punished

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital was fined $ 15,422 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Agency for experiencing coronavirus-related issues following the death of a nurse.

Elva Graveline died on May 19 as a result of COVID-19.

OSHA said it identified violations, including the hospital’s failure to establish and implement a written worker respiratory protection program.

Fiona Phelan, a spokeswoman for New London Hospital, said the OSHA report did not show a lack of adequate personal protective equipment for staff and that the hospital was struggling to be quoted for lack of a written policy in May.

“Given the unprecedented nature of the virus, we are not aware of any hospitals that had such protocols in place at the start of this pandemic,” she said in a statement. “Protecting our patients and staff is our number one priority, so our protocols have always followed the directions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and those of the experts in our healthcare system.”

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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