Editorial: There are good reasons to stock up on free COVID tests in CT

A home COVID-19 test kit.

A home COVID-19 test kit.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Let’s all take a pause today to learn a lesson from Mick Jagger.

The 78-year-old Rolling Stones legend was hours away from taking the stage in Amsterdam Monday when he tested positive for COVID-19. The band’s next gig in Switzerland also was postponed.

Most of us can take a break from work without impacting too many lives. Jagger’s ailments changed plans for tens of thousands of fans.

But the show could not go on given the risk of COVID exposure. Jagger played it safe, for himself, his bandmates and crew, and for his fans. The Rolling Stones won’t gather moss for long, though, as Jagger is recovering and pledged to be back on stage next week.

Not everyone out there will be so considerate this summer, including people you might be packed in with at concerts, ballgames and beaches.

But you can always get a test, right? Well, after more than two years there’s been a few recent pivots in test availability.

Just this week, anyone seeking to get tested through Yale New Haven Health will have to book an appointment.

And federal funding has ended for testing at health care systems, which means future testing will go through insurance. Yale is seeking alternatives for patients who lack insurance.

The funding shift is the result of the Biden administration redirecting pandemic dollars to vaccines and the like in preparation of an anticipated surge this autumn. It was a reset after Congress declined to approve additional testing funds.

There are still some free testing sites in Connecticut, with some functioning as walk-ins and others requiring appointments. But the number of sites has been shrinking with the recent decrease of the number of patients hospitalized with COVID in the state. There are now only 20, a number that could be found in just a few ZIP codes not all that long ago.

“We plan on staying with 20 for the foreseeable future,” Department of Public Health Spokesperson Chris Boyle said. “We can ramp up pretty quickly if we experience another uptick.”

Those decreases are all good news, indicators of a diminished presence of the coronavirus after 27 months. Earlier this week, the state reported 3,482 positive tests from 45,261 administered over seven days.

Of course, increased familiarity with at-home tests has skewed all data involving COVID, as those results are not reported to the state Department of Public Health.

The health department is suggesting state residents stock up in the home test kits in anticipation of summer activities. At least for now, the White House has expanded the availability of the kits. This the third round, which allows orders of eight additional free kits at COVIDTests.gov or 1-800-232-0233.

There may not be any more encores to this offer, so having more kits handy can’t hurt. The whims of Congress have taught us that you can’t always get what you want, so grab what you need while you can.