New Haven adding more coronavirus vaccines, new free testing site

Photo of Ed Stannard
New Haven City Hall

New Haven City Hall

Helen Bennett / Hearst Connecticut Media

NEW HAVEN — The city Health Department anticipates being able to vaccinate 1,550 first responders and other high-priority personnel against the coronavirus by the end of this week, city officials said Monday.

“In 3½ days last week, in our kickoff, we vaccinated 670” and 700 have registered to receive the vaccine this week, Health Director Maritza Bond said during an online news conference. She said there is a hope that 300 more will register. “We anticipate to hopefully vaccinate 1,000 by the end of the week,” she said.

Also, Mayor Justin Elicker and Rick Fontana, director of emergency management, said a new COVID-testing site is open at the former Gateway Community College site at 60 Sargent Drive. Run by CIC Health, the drive-up site allows people to self-administer a nasal swab, “not that long swab that people may be used to,” Fontana said.

The PCR test is paid for by the state and does not require insurance. It is open 8 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Fontana said.

“One of the best ways to get the virus under control is for people to know that they have it,” Elicker said.

Fontana said educators and first responders can show their identification and move to a priority lane at the Sargent Drive site. It is open to anyone over 2 years old.

Elicker said that, as of Monday, there have been 7,639 cases of COVID-19 in New Haven and 153 deaths. “And we’re continuing to see a steady number of new cases each day, and hoping that we don’t see a significant bump after the holidays and that the cases start to go down.”

Superintendent of Schools Iline Tracey and Bond said, while most pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade pupils will return to school Jan. 19, Quinnipiac School and West Rock STREAM Academy will not reopen because they are not considered safe from COVID.

“The COVID Task Force team conducted inspections at all of the schools in the district,” Bond said. “We discovered that, despite those efforts of trying to get open safely” Quinnipiac and West Rock have poor ventilation and the inspectors “deemed them unsafe to open at this juncture,” she said.

Tracey said she and staff will meet with parents of pupils at the two schools Tuesday and offer “options for in-person and remote learning.” She said remote learning is “always an option” for any student, even for those whose schools reopen.

“We’ve had our team look into the data that is out there about younger-age children,” Elicker said. “Evidence indicates they’re much less likely to spread the virus.”

Bond said, “We’re really looking at this as a phased-in approach. We have mitigation strategies [and] cancellation plans in place.”

edward.stannard@hearstmediact.com; 203-680-9382

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to remove incorrect information that listed teachers as being eligible during the current phase of vaccinations in New Haven.