As Connecticut’s COVID-19 positivity rate continues to climb, the demand for testing rises with it. And that could mean longer lines at local testing facilities.
At 3 o’clock on Wednesday, the line of cars at one Community Health Inc. drive-thru facility in Middletown was so long that beyond a certain point, drivers were asked to come back another day.
Mark Masselli -- the CEO of Community Health Inc. – chalks it up to it being a holiday.
“Veteran’s Day was very, very crowded. It was unusually crowded,” he said.
Even though he considered the extreme volume to be a one-day anomaly, Masselli does notice that lines are growing generally.
“Sometimes the line is so long [that] one of the things that we’re starting to do is at 3 o’clock letting people know that this might be the end of the line because we know it’ll take that long to process all of the cars so we can finish up by 4 o’clock,” Masselli said.
The state’s reported a total of 202,676 tests conducted over the past week. That’s 28,000 more than the previous seven days.
Ken Lalime is CEO of the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut. He said things are going well so far at the 16 CHC-ACT testing facilities.
“I have not heard of anyone falling into the problem of having lines such that they cannot handle them,” he said.
Lalime said for instance, a Bridgeport testing facility did 390 tests in about four hours and that people waited on average 24 minutes. He stressed that patients making appointments before they get in line helps to keep everything moving.
Both Lalime and Masselli are confident they have enough supply to meet this surge in demand.
The chief clinical officers at two major health networks serving Connecticut – Hartford Health Care and Trinity Health New England – also say they’ve got enough tests.
“We’re doing about 25,000 to 26,000 tests a week and I don’t see the demand going down,” said Dr. Ajay Kumar, the chief clinical officer for Hartford Health Care. “It’s kind of creeping up a little bit.”
Dr. Syed Hussain, Trinity Health New England’s chief clinical officer, said that his network expanded testing capacity after the first wave, which now allows them to test whoever shows up at network testing sites.
“We see numbers going up – creeping up – week after week and we haven’t even reached a plateau phase yet,” Hussain said. “But, we feel confident across the region both in Connecticut and Massachusetts.”
Meanwhile, the state is also rising to meet demand by adding 30 new COVID-19 testing spots – and extending hours of operation.
And Hussain says they’re going to need it – he said because there’s a lag between infections and the potential for serious illness, he expects increased hospitalizations and deaths in two to four weeks.