Connecticut First Responders Lament Lack Of Access To Free COVID Tests
First responders in eastern Connecticut want more self-testing for COVID-19. A group of organizations have called for the state to help establish a system of surveillance testing for ambulance services and fire departments.
As cases rise across the state, first responders are concerned that the lack of access to free testing has put their communities’ health in jeopardy. Outbreaks have occurred in fire departments across the state. Many firefighters are volunteers and work at multiple departments, posing a higher risk for spread. Leaders in emergency services say firefighters and ambulance workers need the same access to testing as other health care providers.
Some free testing sites offer priority lines to first responders, but that is not typical. Wait times at free testing sites can be over an hour long.
Some fire departments have been able to secure test kits. These costs have not been covered by the state, and that has put a strain on local fire departments.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers want to alleviate this cost burden and help first responders access tests, but the next legislative session doesn’t start until January 6.