Lines, Lines, and More Lines: Connecticut Residents Wait for COVID-19 Tests

 “I am compromised.  I’ve had pneumonia five times, I almost died the last time I was in the hospital, and I just cannot get sick,” said Nilda Perichi of Durham.

Perichi said she was willing to wait as long as she had to, to get a COVID-19 test in Middletown, Wednesday. 

“I think that the news has been very scary for the last few days. Very intensively scary,” she said.

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Connecticut’s hospitalizations as of November 9 were at 548, just over a quarter of what they were at the height of the pandemic on April 22 (1,972), but they are on the rise.  The last time hospitalizations were this high, at the end of March, all non-essential businesses in Connecticut were closed.

“We still have a lot of capacity, probably more capacity than just about any state in the country, but the trend line’s not good,” said Governor Ned Lamont when asked about the uptick.

The line at the Middletown drive-up testing site stretched several blocks. Waiting for more than an hour – parents of student-athletes possibly exposed to the coronavirus, people suffering COVID-like symptoms looking for peace of mind, and those like Dom May of Middletown, who’s heading back to Kentucky for the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Don’t want to be that person who brings it home to the family,” May said.

On Saturday, Community Health Center, Inc. expanded its one dozen COVID-19 testing sites across the state to be open seven days a week, and officials said since then their popularity has exploded.

“There actually have been some sick people and people with symptoms.  I would say that’s not the majority of people.  The majority of people I’ve seen are people who believe that’s had some exposure,” said Margaret Flinter of Community Health Center, Inc.

Some testing sites are closing at 3 p.m. to ensure everyone in line gets tested.  NBC Connecticut saw testing site in Newington closed by lunchtime Wednesday, and one of the people in line said a site on the other side of Middletown also closed to capacity before 2 p.m.

“In July we thought it was busy, but it pales in comparison to what we’re seeing now: 200, 300, 400 people a day coming into almost every single one of our testing sites,” said Flinter.

“I think with the numbers that are rising with COVID-19 cases I think people are being very cautious,” said Deborah Roberts of Middletown.

Roberts said she’s been sniffling since the leaves started to fall.  Although she suffers from allergies she wants to be certain she’s not spreading the virus.

 “I have children and grandchildren and they’re what’s most important to me,” she pointed out.

Flinter said Roberts made the right decision getting tested. 

“Honestly, I wouldn’t say to somebody oh no that’s not COVID, that’s something else, because we don’t know without a test,” she said.