As the COVID-19 pandemic rages elsewhere in the country, Hartford HealthCare reached a milestone by hitting the 100,000-test mark, a feat officials say has helped keep Connecticut’s infection rate at less than 1 percent.
“Testing is absolutely vital to containment,” said Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeff Flaks. “We will commit to whatever is necessary to do testing for our community because it’s what matters most.”
The system, Flaks said, will continue to offer drive-through testing at various locations across the state and schedule visits by its mobile units that bring testing directly to people who might not be able to get to drive-through or fixed sites. The mobile units visit churches, schools, community centers, homeless shelters and nursing homes such as the Duncaster senior living complex in Bloomfield, where the system celebrated its testing milestone recently.
The 100,000-plus tests performed by Hartford HealthCare are part of the more than 550,000 conducted statewide at more than 160 testing sites.
To make this possible, Flaks said more than 150 Hartford HealthCare staff members shifted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and volunteered to help with the system’s testing efforts to fulfill its goal of “reaching the most vulnerable people in our community.”
“Of the 50 states, Connecticut ranked first — No. 1 one out of 50 within our country — for the lowest risk of transmission per person who tests positive,” he noted. “In Connecticut, a person who tests positive . . . would effectively pass the virus, on average, to less than one person. There are states where it may be five or six people who get infected by a single person. That’s an incredible statistic.”
Widespread testing of people who show symptoms of the virus, came into contact with a positive person or live in group settings has helped contain the spread of COVID-19, he continued.
“Connecticut today stands as a national leader in terms of the statistics and how we’ve been able, to this point, to contain the spread,” Flaks said. “This is about vigilance. It’s about maintaining our highest level of alert.”
The success of testing in Connecticut is a source of pride but not a reason to slow efforts, said Gov. Ned Lamont. The state, he explained, will combine ongoing testing with other monitoring efforts to spot virus flare-ups. He also reminded people to continue practicing social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing to ward off infection.
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