WWHD finishes off COVID-19 testing supplies, terminates testing

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Natalie Bandura '22, Paper News Editor

The Westport-Weston Health District (WWHD) ran out of COVID-19 testing supplies and was forced to terminate testing for the purpose of tracing residents who may have come in contact with the virus.

“The WWHD is no longer attempting to trace individuals who might have come into contact with the virus,” WWHD Director Mark Cooper said, as included in the email sent out to Westport residents by Director of Human Resources and General Administration John Bayers. “Residents should assume that everyone has come into contact with COVID-19 […] The number of COVID-19 cases in Westport and the State of Connecticut are going up and they will continue to go up.”

Unless contacted by the WWHD with an invitation to test, residents can now seek COVID-19 testing by calling the State of Connecticut 2-1-1 hotline, contacting the COVID-19 Call Center of the Yale New Haven Health system or reaching out to one’s doctor or healthcare provider.

The decision to end the Health District’s second round of COVID-19 testing as part of the town’s direct contact tracing efforts has not halted the town’s commitment to curbing the virus’ spread.

“The WWHD Director of Health, Mark Cooper and First Selectman Jim Marpe are pushing the State of Connecticut to ensure a coordinated effort, including advocating for the release of much needed supplies,” Westport-Weston Health District members said. “Over the long term, the Director of Health expects that a vaccine will be found and the antigen will be incorporated into the seasonal flu vaccine.”

Although the WWHD works closely with Westport elected officials, the medical industry employs strict patient privacy rules to contain specific information about individual COVID-19 cases. In the meantime, First Selectman Jim Marpe and his staff are considering methods of supplying infected individuals with essential food and medical supplies without putting volunteers at risk of infection.

“Westport is fortunate to have a staff of first responders and town-wide personnel who are trained and experienced professionals prepared to fully respond to serious public safety and community health issues, such as the COVID-19 outbreak,” Marpe said.

Despite the district’s continuing efforts to fight the pandemic, Staples students hope that testing supplies will soon be restored to the WWHD so that direct contact tracing efforts can resume.

“It’s counterproductive to shut down the COVID-19 testing facility to the public,” Jasper Cahn ’20 said, “because it poses a threat to at-risk citizens who are unsure if they have come into contact with the disease through a family member.”