Conn. still looking for a new lab for many state virus testing sites

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Officials are still working to replace the lab company that handles most of Connecticut’s state-run coronavirus testing, but they don’t plan to close any sites when the company retires at the end of the month, according to a newspaper article Saturday.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ned Lamont said Saturday that the state has distributed 3.1 million home testing kits over the past two weeks to cities, school systems, state employees and state employees. other groups over the past two weeks.

The change comes as cases rise in Connecticut, as in the United States as a whole, amid the spread of the super-infectious omicron variant of the virus.

State officials are talking with other labs but have not yet signed a plan to replace Sema4, the company that handles testing for 16 of the state’s roughly two dozen sites, the Department of Health said Friday. Public Health at the Connecticut Post. But he said the sites would continue to operate.

“At this time, there are no planned interruptions as part of the transition,” DPH spokesman Christopher Boyle told the newspaper. He said some locations may move “if that change better meets the needs of the community.”

Stamford-based Sema4 told investors and state officials last month that it would halt COVID-19 testing in mid-January and return to focusing on genomic testing, its core business. Sema4 then agreed to continue coronavirus testing until the end of this month.

The company has handled about two-thirds of the roughly 25,000 tests state-run sites have conducted in recent weeks, according to data provided to Hearst Connecticut Media.

There are other testing options, such as pharmacies and home testing. The state plans to obtain and distribute thousands more self-test kits in the coming days, said Lamont, a Democrat.

Yet state sites are crucial for some communities.

In Kent, a small town near the New York border, the next closest testing location is a 40-minute drive or more away, said Jean Speck, head of the city’s council of elected officials.

Demand for testing at the Kent site roughly quadrupled during the omicron surge, prompting the decision to extend the site’s opening hours, she told the newspaper.

“I’m doing everything I can to keep it open,” she said, praising the state and Sema4 for their work.