As Connecticut’s battle against coronavirus remains steady and the state’s statistics among the best in the country, Sen. Chris Murphy visited the Community Health Center of New Britain to encourage citizens to get tested for the virus as well as thanking frontline workers for their contributions.
New Britain was one of the cities in the state to have a high rate of positive tests at the start of the pandemic but has since done its best to limit the number of positive tests outside of the 20-person increase the city saw over this past weekend.
“This is a really important testing site for the area,” Murphy said. “Especially as schools reopen here, we need people to understand they can get themselves or their child tested at no cost. This site is open every day of the work week for four hours so we wanted to get the word out that folks who have symptoms or have been in contact with anybody who’s tested positive should come down here.”
The center is conducting drive-in testing from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday where anyone interested with Connecticut identification can enter the parking lot and get tested for coronavirus from their car.
“This site is also federally funded, they have a contract through the end of October,” Murphy said. “Right now, Republicans are refusing to pass a new covid funding bill and the consequence of not passing that bill is sites like this could shut down. I wanted to be able to learn firsthand what they’re doing here and how important their work is so that I can make the case to my colleagues in Washington that they need to pass additional legislation.”
In addition to the onsite testing, the health center also deploys pop-up testing sites around the state to provide more convenient ways for people to get tested. There will be two pop-up testing sites locally Aug. 31 at the YWCA in New Britain and at Southington Bread for Life.
“Senator Murphy is a longtime friend of Community Health Center, even before he was a senator we worked very closely with him,” said Yvette Highsmith-Francis, regional vice president for CHC. “He is always so engaged and so committed to supporting the residents of Connecticut. I’m not surprised at all that he’s here because that’s how he governs, that’s how he leads. He’s really a part of the community.”
Highsmith-Francis said the CHC of New Britain is the primary care provider for approximately 17,000 people and the ability to provide free testing and resources locally helped New Britain gain control of the virus.
“We’ve seen our number of positive tests decline significantly here,” Highsmith-Francis said. “It says a lot about our residents following the precautions, wearing face coverings, avoiding being indoors with large groups of people. It started out here with a relatively high positivity rate, but we are really in alignment with the numbers we’re seeing across the state overall. So I think it’s going well.”
Murphy expressed his disappointment that Connecticut provided an example for other states on how to combat the virus and chose to ignore it instead, which hinders the state’s ability to continue reopening.
With local schools starting to reopen as early as Aug. 31, Murphy wishes testing would receive far greater focus nationally as well as be more accessible to everyone to slow the spread of the virus. Had the resources been available, he would have implemented a testing system that would be focused around spotting potential outbreaks before they happen.
“It’s beyond comprehension why this president hasn’t created a national testing system,” Murphy said. “We can’t get the volume we need unless the federal government takes control of testing and the manufacturer of testing. We are simply not doing enough. As schools reopen, we should be doing population-level testing. Meaning, you do randomized samples of students and teachers to detect outbreaks. We don’t have the ability to do that today because we just don’t have enough tests and testing capacity. That’s not Connecticut's fault, that’s the fault of the Trump administration for refusing to set up a national testing program and leaving it all to the states.”