CVS Health expands coronavirus test sites at stores to Stamford, Danbury; still none in Bridgeport

Photo of Brian Lockhart

CVS Health on Friday will launch 13 more self-swab COVID-19 testing sites in the state, including the first such locations in Stamford, Danbury and a third in Hartford.

But Bridgeport, the state’s largest city where virus cases were approaching 3,000, was again passed over despite being a continued pandemic hot spot.

Tara Burke, a spokeswoman for the pharmacy giant, said Thursday that while Bridgeport has three CVS stores, none have drive-thrus, which are how the test kits are handed to patrons, who then use them in their cars while observed by a company staffer. The tests are shipped to an independent third party for analysis, with the results available in three days.

“We identified the locations for these test sites based on a comprehensive set of factors, including locations with sufficient space to safely and effectively operate the site without disrupting store operations,” Burke said. “We do have a testing location in Stratford ... which is the next town over from Bridgeport.”

The location list CVS released Thursday also included Fairfield, another Bridgeport border town.

CVS Health received some criticism earlier this week after opening its first round of Connecticut three-day testing locations — part of the company’s effort to establish 1,000 sites nationwide by month’s end. Most were in the suburbs, not the densely-populated urban centers like Bridgeport, Danbury and Stamford where the virus has had a larger impact, particularly on minority residents.

State legislators representing Stamford, which has around 3,045 COVID-19 cases, had already been concerned when in April CVS and the state chose New Haven to open a rapid, 30-minute test site at the former Gateway Community College, rather than a Fairfield County location.

The company last week established two Hartford stores to administer the longer, three-day test, but the remainder of municipalities on that initial list were in the suburbs, with Stratford and Bethel the only towns in Fairfield County.

That prompted state Sen. Alex Kasser, a Democrat who represents Greenwich and parts of Stamford, to complain on Twitter that Stamford and Bridgeport, “our most populated cities ... which have the most infections and hospitalizations,” were now being left out.

“Why?” wondered Kasser.

On Monday Arthur Augustyn, special assistant to Stamford Mayor David Martin, said CVS would be announcing two Stamford locations, though the pharmacy at the time declined to confirm that information.

“As we move into a new phase of combating the pandemic and as communities begin to safely open up their local economies, we need testing to be easily accessible,” said Troyen Brennan, CVS Health’s chief medical officer and executive vice president, in a statement Thursday. “By further expanding the number of drive-thru test sites available across our retail network, more people can be tested closer to home in a familiar setting.”

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim’s office did not immediately respond to comment Thursday. However on Wednesday Ganim said his administration was working to try and expand testing in that city. So far there are five locations: Bridgeport and St. Vincent’s hospitals, Southwest Community and Optimus health care centers, and DOCS Urgent Care.

“We’re gonna open up another site, probably on East Main Street, but on the East side. Details are going to follow,” Ganim said. “So we are pushing very hard ... to get more testing facilities around the city.”

The full list of new CVS testing locations released Thursday was as follows:

CVS Pharmacy, 81 North St., Bristol

CVS Pharmacy, 292 Spielman Highway, Burlington

CVS Pharmacy, 47 Lake Ave. Extension, Danbury

CVS Pharmacy, 15 Chesterfield Road, East Lyme

CVS Pharmacy, 16 Main St., East Hartford

CVS Pharmacy, 1770 Kings Highway, Fairfield

CVS Pharmacy, 1657 Route 12, Gales Ferry

CVS Pharmacy, 690 Wethersfield Ave., Hartford

CVS Pharmacy, 57 Providence Pike, Putnam

CVS Pharmacy, 229 Hope St., Stamford

CVS Pharmacy, 1938 West Main St., Stamford

CVS Pharmacy, 2005 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville

CVS Pharmacy, 355 Campbell Ave., West Haven

Patients must register in advance at beginning Friday to schedule an appointment. Patients will be required to stay in their cars and will be directed to the pharmacy drive-thru window where they will be provided with a test kit and given instructions