There doesn’t seem to be any specific explanation for how Connecticut missed out on securing three million at-home test kits the state had planned to purchase.
The contract with Jack Rubenstein LLC, which is headed by Jeff Barlow, was able to deliver about 15,000 of the 426,000 tests Connecticut received Thursday night.
Reached by phone Barlow declined an interview, but said he was still working to secure the order.
The contract and purchase order were provided by Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration Friday.
There was never any money exchanged and Lamont said he didn’t intend to take any legal action against Barlow.
“Purchase orders are good. I don’t have to pay until I see the product, test the product, make sure it’s the product we contracted for,” Lamont said Friday.
At a Friday press conference, Lamont said “nothing is standard operating procedure right now.”
Lamont said he believes they are still working with Barlow to obtain the tests.
“We’re in discussion with let’s say 30 different providers right now,” Lamont said.
He said Barlow provided about $15 million worth of masks when they were desperate for them back in 2020.
Lamont said he “doubts” the state will take legal action against Barlow.
“I don’t want to be sitting around talking about lawsuits, I want to talk about getting more tests, right here,” Lamont said.
On Thursday, Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani said “We issued a purchase order off of the contract. We were given pictures and confirmation that the product was being loaded and on the way. Those were misrepresented to us. So we did everything by the book, the way you would expect the state to proceed with a purchase of this magnitude.”
The pictures, according to the administration, were pictures of iHealth kits they expected to receive. They were not pictures of the shipment on a plane or a truck.
Republicans are questioning Lamont’s handling of the situation.
“We really need to have an investigation over the what occurred because that was really the biggest hoax that was played on the state of Connecticut,” House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora said.
Candelora said if a company deceived the state then there needs to be consequences.
“This was a massive $18 million contract, there needs to be accountability. I know the governor wants to move on but we as a state need to stand up to bad business practices,” Candelora said.
Republican Party Chairman Ben Proto called for Attorney General William Tong and State Comptroller Natalie Braswell to get involved.
“Attorney General Tong and Interim State Comptroller Natalie Braswell need to hold the governor accountable, even if it challenges their partisan loyalties. There needs to be a full investigation of how this shortage happened and what is actually being done to fix it,” Proto said in a statement.
Lamont says there will be plenty of time to do a post-mortem but the state needs the tests now.
“The good news is 426,000 tests right here,” Lamont said.
The tests were supposed to go to municipalities.
“I don’t think we’re going to get them out to everybody today, but we’re going to do the best we can,” Lamont said.