Ridgefield distributes more than 1,000 COVID tests amid ‘incredible’ demand

Photo of Alyssa Seidman
Cars start lining up near Yanity Gym two hours before the town opened its distribution site. Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Ridgefield, Conn.

Cars start lining up near Yanity Gym two hours before the town opened its distribution site. Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. Ridgefield, Conn.

Gerri Lewis / Contributed photo

RIDGEFIELD — The parking lot behind Yanity Gym was converted into a drive-through distribution site Monday as officials doled out a limited supply of at-home COVID-19 tests on a first-come, first-served basis.

The distribution was open from 4 to 5 p.m. for Ridgefield residents only; proof of residency was required. One test was given per adult, with a maximum of two adults allowed per car. Town officials requested that only those with COVID symptoms or a known exposure pick up the tests.

Cars began lining up around 2 p.m.

“I got in line around 3:30 on East Ridge and got my kit around 4:15,” resident Kate Fitzpatrick said. “They did a terrific job with distribution.”

Resident Pam Stoddart arrived an hour before the distribution began and got her test kit in less than 10 minutes. She said the traffic in town was “insane.”

Ridgefield received 1,845 tests from the state Friday night. Officials expected more than 3,000 kits to be ready for pick up from the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security’s Region 5 headquarters in Litchfield last week, but after a deal between state officials and a supplier fell through last week, officials scrambled to find another, albeit smaller, cache.

More than half of Ridgefield’s allotment was distributed at Yanity Monday afternoon. Drivers were asked to enter the parking lot from Governor Street via Prospect Ridge — forming a single line — and exit onto Prospect Street after picking up their kits.

Police officers and fire police directed traffic while volunteers from the town’s Community Emergency Response Team physically distributed the kits.

“We’re trying to get these kits to be used immediately … so people know not to go out and expose other people,” CERT’s Assistant Director Gerri Lewis said.

Some of the kits were set aside for first responders, Ridgefield schools and “critical people in town government,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said in an earlier interview.

RPS received nine cases, or 405 kits, which were distributed to staff on Monday.

Superintendent Susie Da Silva said kits would only be distributed to those who are required to conduct weekly testing and cannot get access to a test due to high demand, or who actively have symptoms of COVID-19 and have not been able to access testing and require a test.

Marconi acknowledged that the allotment from the state was not enough to go around. He said town officials are “working every angle possible to secure additional test kits,” and noted that Ridgefield will also receive a shipment of adult N95 masks from the state’s inventory.

The town has “tentative” plans to reopen its testing center at Yanity this week, Marconi said. He expects it to be open daily depending on demand.

“You can get tested tomorrow, be exposed and have to go through it again,” he added. “Based on what we’re seeing around the state, the demand has been incredible.”