Ridgefield virus testing drew over 300 on Saturday

People were tested for coronavirus Saturday outside the Recreation Center, with costs covered by insurance and the government. Another testing session is planned there Saturday May 30.

People were tested for coronavirus Saturday outside the Recreation Center, with costs covered by insurance and the government. Another testing session is planned there Saturday May 30.

Bryan Haeffele / Hearst Connecticut Media

To be tested for coronavirus, more than 300 Ridgefielders endured traffic backups and waits that sometimes went over an hour Saturday.

They should be getting calls next week to inform them of their test results.

“We had 325, so it was an excellent turnout,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said Monday, May 18.

“We had some traffic issues in the beginning,” Marconi said. “...Many people showed up early for their appointments. But some of that was due to technical glitches with the software crashing, when everyone hit it all at once — so that created some issues.”

People who missed Saturday’s testing — which had costs covered by insurance or the government — will have another shot at it. The town is planning another testing session on Saturday, May 30, again at the Ridgefield Recreation Center, again from 11 to 3.

“About an hour into it, we got everything squared away. It was pretty good,” Marconi said of Saturday’s session.

“People were just showing up on bicycles, walking up: ‘I heard testing is going on, can I get a test?’ ” Marconi said.

“It was a beautiful day. The waits were long. It should have been maybe a 30-minute wait, 40-minute wait. In some cases it was an hour, an hour and 20 minutes,” he said.

“I let people know: It’s a long time. The registration is taking time, they have to get your paperwork and your ID.”

The medical firm that did the testing — Docs Medical Group, which operates urgent care and primary care locations in 16 Connecticut towns and cities — was very meticulous about the registration paperwork in order to assure that the test results, when they’re available, go to the right person.

“They’re very, very careful and careful takes time,” Marconi said

There’s a separate laboratory that nasal swabs taken Saturday were sent to for the actual testing, and people will be informed over the next week as their results come in.

“They’ll get a phone call,” Marconi said.

The town offered what its Office of Emergency Management described as “COVID-19 nasal swab drive-through testing for current evidence of the disease,” in a new release from the town office of emergency management.

“All residents are encouraged to get testing. All ages welcome,” the town said in a release Thursday evening. “There is no prescription required.”

People didn’t have to pay, but their insurance — if they have insurance — was billed.

“Docs Medical will first bill an insurance carrier. The government program will automatically cover what insurance does not,” the town’s release said. “No payments will be required for the test.”

HIPPA rules

Town hall is expecting to get a report with only the total numbers, not how individual people’s tests came out, Marconi said.

The state will be getting more detailed information and doing contact tracing on the people who got positives, he said.

The town health department is also due a more detailed report on the results, but how much information the town gets will depend on rules spelled out in the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as “HIPPA.”

“This is HIPPA protected,” Marconi said. “You can get the statistics but you will not receive names or addresses...

“What we’ve done with town employees, the release form they sign, allows the health department to get that information.”

Marconi said the town might be involved in contact tracing in the future.

“If our counts are good, which I’m hoping for, it’ll be easier to do the contact tracing,” he said.

If the town does get involved in future contact tracing, it will need people who understand the privacy implications of what they’re doing.

“We’d have to have people be familiar with HIPPA, be very appreciative of it — similar to being sworn in,” Marconi said.

Each person who tests positive and his or her contacts have to be traced and that generates quite a bit of work.

“You make one phone call and you ask people: Where were you in the last 14 days? You’ve got a lot of follow-up work to do — you can only imagine,” Marconi said.