Home Economy COVID-19 LATEST: Quest/Hartford HealthCare partnership to dramatically increase testing

COVID-19 LATEST: Quest/Hartford HealthCare partnership to dramatically increase testing

The state will see a dramatic increase in COVID-19 testing under an expanded partnership between Hartford HealthCare and Quest Diagnostics that was announced at Gov. Ned Lamont’s afternoon briefing.

“We couldn’t be more excited,” said Hartford HealthCare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks, noting that Quest has done testing at all of its facilities across the state since 2014.

 Rusckowski

Of the approximately 2,600 daily tests done in the state, Hartford HealthCare accounts for about 500, Flaks said. With the Quest effort, the state number will initially rise by about 2,000. Ultimately, that figure will rise to about 1.5 million per week, said Quest Chairman, President and CEO Stephen Rusckowski.

That figure will entail both diagnostic tests – which must be performed by a health care professional – and antibody tests, which involve a simple blood draw, Rusckowski said. Taken near the end of a patient’s infection, that test can detect antibodies that may provide the patient with immunity for a period of time.

That immunity “is likely, but it’s not proven yet,” Rusckowski noted, saying that the duration of such immunity with other viruses has been about six months.

Lamont noted that the Hartford HealthCare/Quest partnership will initially do its testing at five centers around the state, with others – including a mobile testing site for use at nursing homes, prisons, and homeless shelters – coming online soon.

PEAK REACHED IN COUNTY
Lamont said the data shows that “we’ve reached a peak in the southern part of the state,” with hospitalizations on the decline in Fairfield County and flattening in New Haven County, but still rising in Hartford County.

coronavirus COVID-19 Connecticut
Image of the coronavirus courtesy the CDC.

Fairfield County’s positive cases increased by 152 to 8,472; hospitalizations increased by 2 to 735; and deaths rose by 32 to 544.

Statewide, Connecticut conducted another 1,386 tests and netted 545 more positive cases, bringing those respective totals to 64,192 and 20,360. Hospitalizations were up by 30 to total 1,949, while another 92 deaths brought that total to 1,423.

Stamford still has the most positive COVID-19 cases in the state, with 2,067, followed by Bridgeport (1,421), New Haven (1,177), Norwalk (964), Waterbury (907), Danbury (842), Hartford (724), Greenwich (565), West Haven (545), Hamden (448) and Stratford (431).

Supplies of PPE continue to come in, the governor said, with over 100,000 new N95 masks being distributed, particularly in New Haven, and 2 million surgical masks being deployed, in large part to food workers, day care centers, and employees at other essential businesses.

AID FOR ARTISTS
The Connecticut Office of the Arts – a state office housed within the Department of Economic and Community Development – announced that two grant programs have been created to help artists negatively impacted by COVID-19:

  • The Connecticut Artists Relief Grant program will provide $500 grants to over 100 individual artists and teaching artists who live in the state and whose creative practices and income are being adversely impacted by the safety measures put into place to prevent the spread of the virus. The grant is partly funded by the New England Foundation for the Arts.
  • The Connecticut Artists Respond Grant program helps artists translate and present their art virtually. Individual or collaborative artists who create or have created projects that respond to the needs of the times by presenting art activities, classes or other creative experiences online at no cost to the public will be eligible for $1,000 or $2,000, respectively.

Applications will be accepted for both programs through May 4.

D.C. TO THE RESCUE

Senate Republicans and Democrats are reportedly close to finalizing a $484 billion coronavirus relief package for small businesses, hospitals and testing.

Details include:

  • $310 billion total for the Paycheck Protection Program, with $250 billion unrestricted and $60 billion earmarked for smaller institutions
  • $50 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans and $10 billion for EIDL grants
  • $75 billion for hospitals
  • $25 billion for testing, $11 billion of which will be distributed to states
  • $2.1 billion for Small Business Administration administrative expenses

The Senate could vote on the bill today, while the House could approve it as early as Thursday.

THE NUMBERS
As of this writing, there are more than 810,500 positive cases and over 43,500 virus-related deaths in the U.S., with about 74,700 recovered; globally, there are nearly 2.55 million positive cases and over 175,00 deaths, with over 665,000 recovered.

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