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Posted on: January 4, 2022

A Message from the Town Manager about the Test Kit and Mask Distribution

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A Message from Town Manager Ryan Aylesworth

 Dear Mansfield Residents:

On Monday, January 3, many residents experienced frustration trying to access the free COVID home testing and N95 masks provided to our community by the State of Connecticut. This was a truly unprecedented distribution event for our community.

Given how the home tests are in short supply through retailers, the State procured a quantity of these tests and masks, and allocated them to each municipality for re-distribution based on population. After initial arrangements made by the State to procure test kits fell through, Mansfield and other municipalities received word that an allocation was being rapidly arranged and that a distribution immediately following New Year’s would be possible. Local officials worked diligently over the holiday weekend to put corresponding plans in place. Although the quantity of kits fell well short of what we expected when this program was previously announced (we only received enough kits to distribute to approximately 15% of our population), we chose to push them out to our community as quickly as possible to meet the demand for at-home tests in the post-holiday season.  We took special care to notify all residents through the “Code Red” (reverse 911) emergency system, press releases, emails, the website and social media.  

We apologize that the distribution attracted so many people that it became overwhelming to those trying to participate.  Due to the traffic lineup at 2:30 PM (90 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the distribution event), a delay in school buses was also an unintended consequence.  Although we had arranged with local law enforcement to assist with traffic management at the conclusion of the school day, it became apparent that the event would have benefited from additional personnel on-site to ensure that vehicles were not “queuing” well over an hour prior to the event’s scheduled start time. We offer our regrets to parents whose children’s buses were late in arriving home.  

We have heard from residents who questioned selection of Mansfield Middle School as the location for distribution. This site was ultimately chosen for a number of logistical reasons. It is a fair distance from any main state road and can accommodate cars through its circular access.  By asking people to refrain from lining up until 4:00, we hoped to avoid the traffic jam letting buses out of the school lot and extending the full extent of Clover Mill Road to Route 195. The middle school was our best location option--the Town Hall, Library, Community Center, EO Smith High School, and a variety of other locations would not have been acceptable alternatives because of their proximity to busy state roads. The Town’s Resident State Troopers’ office and the Department of Public Works contributed in helping to direct traffic while the Emergency Management team handed out the kits and materials, but, as stated earlier, it is our intention to increase staffing in these areas with respect to planning for any similar future events.

We hope that the State will help us to procure more of these free kits for our residents—we are extremely grateful for this supply and local officials did their best to distribute these materials into the community as swiftly as possible.  Although we are sorry that not every resident received all the test kits they wanted in this first distribution, these supplies are now in use in Mansfield households.

We are carefully evaluating the experiences of our residents during the January 3 distribution and considering how such an event can be improved in the future.

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