Lamont calls up National Guard to distribute tests, masks


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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP)–Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday he is calling up nearly 100 members of the Connecticut National Guard to help distribute 3 million COVID-19 test kits and 6 million N95 masks the state is making available to help blunt the growing surge of cases, fueled in part by the omicron variant.

Lamont announced Monday his administration procured about 3 million at-home kits, each containing two rapid tests, and would give them to cities and towns, public health departments, school districts and others over the coming weeks. Municipalities, he said, would begin receiving test kits and masks Thursday and allocation would be based on population. Local officials will determine how to distribute them.

Some cities and towns are expected to begin handing out test kits as soon as Thursday, with some noting that masks may not be distributed until possibly next week.

“As these at-home tests arrive in Connecticut over these next several days and weeks, the National Guard will help provide support on behalf of the state to ensure that they are distributed to each municipality and school district,” Lamont said in a statement. The soldiers and airmen will also help at testing and vaccine sites if needed.

The activation is 100% federally funded.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said he expects his city of about 130,000 will receive 30,000 two-dose test kits. He said the city will provide some to nonprofit agencies that help vulnerable groups, including people who are homeless, and also distribute kits to residents at two mass distribution events Friday and Saturday.

Elicker urged people returning to work or school and who will be exposed to others to pick up a test kit, which have been difficult to find due to high demand. N95 masks will also be distributed at those events, he said.

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