The Omicron variant is ebbing. The state’s in-school mask mandate ends February 28.
But COVID has not vanished. Westporters still need tests.
Since January, the Greens Farms train station has been one of the town’s go-to centers. Trains still stop there — for a tiny number of commuters — but most of the action now consists of nasal swabs.
The site is run by Progressive Diagnostics. The 8-year-old company was in the right place at the right time when the demand for same-day RT-PCR tests soared. Their Greens Farms location is one of 8 in the state.
The average turnaround time for results is 6 hours. There is no cost for youngsters in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The state reimburses Progressive Diagnostics through federal grant funds. The state also pays for tests for people without insurance.
Progressive Diagnostics bills insurance companies for the $150 fee for those with coverage.
Progressive Diagnostics has been in Westport since the start of the pandemic. They began with weekly tests of EMS first responders, then did the same for other town employees. Soon, they added a drive-through site at the Saugatuck train station.
When the Omicron surge began, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker asked for additional help. Progessive’s Greens Farms location was up and running within days.
There was concern that slow turnaround times would endanger actually endanger health, says company CEO Curt Kuliga, who lives in Westport. High test prices were another worry.
Kuliga lauds town officials for their support, and help in getting the center running quickly and efficiently.
Right now, the Greens Farms station is used by all ages, and all groups: vaccinated and unvaccinated residents, and those who are both symptomatic and asymptomatic.
“We will be here as long as we are needed,” Kuliga says.
“Last July, during the summertime testing decline, people wondered why we were still open. We stayed to serve the community. Even though it was uncertain what would happen long term, we felt there was still a significant need. We want to help.”
Statewide, about 20,000 residents are tested daily. Progressive Diagnostics’ lab volume is close to what it was a few weeks ago. The positivity rate remains above 5%. That’s a far cry from the 30% in January, but still high.
“Increased awareness of testing sites may be more important now more than ever,” Kuliga says. “Testing will continue to be relevant — especially since 50% of positive cases are in vaccinated individuals.”