Coronavirus News: Connecticut announces pilot program for rapid testing in schools

COVID-19 News and Information
MIDDLETOWN, Connecticut -- Connecticut health and education officials have launched a pilot program in Middletown that will use new rapid tests in an attempt to identify and contain any coronavirus outbreaks in schools.

Under the program that was announced Thursday, students, teachers or other staff showing COVID-19 symptoms can get a test that promises to identify an infection within 15 minutes.

Gov. Ned Lamont said the idea is to contain any outbreak quickly and prevent schools from having to unnecessarily close classrooms or buildings.

"If you have to just do the PCR test and it takes two days to get the results, that could really mean a big quarantine for a period of time," he said.

Related: Connecticut positivity rate hits highest mark since June

School officials promised that no student would be tested without the consent of a parent or guardian. They said any parent coming to pick up an ill student would also be given the option of taking a rapid test.

Education officials said the pilot will give them an idea of best practices and any glitches before rolling out a similar program across the state.

Connecticut has already deployed thousands of the new rapid COVID-19 tests to colleges and expects to receive about 1 million of them from the federal government.

Officials said they also are recommending a regular PCR test for anyone who is experiencing flu-like symptoms but receives a negative result from the rapid test. That would give them confirmation of their test results within two or three days.

Related: Cases spike in Staten Island, rapid testing coming to Ferry Terminal

Lamont also announced Thursday that he has approved spending $3.4 million in grants from the state's Coronavirus Relief Fund, which uses federal CARES Act money, for use in homeless shelters and by people at risk of becoming homeless.

The governor said the money will be used for things such as physical improvements to shelters, acquiring personal protective equipment for shelter workers and for homelessness prevention programs.

"These grants will be used to ensure the supports are in place for those who are on the verge of becoming homeless and we can rapidly respond to the situations they are facing," Lamont said. "Having a safe and secure place to call home is a critical component of responding to this public health crisis."

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