Governor Janet Mills and Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew announced today that anyone in Maine can now get tested for COVID-19 without the need for a separate order from a health care provider. This means that participating sites may test anyone in Maine over the age of 12 months who feels they need a test, even if they don’t have a primary care provider or a written order from a clinician.
This expanded access is made possible by Maine’s expanded testing capacity, including ramping up operations at the State lab, partnering with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories Inc., and developing nearly 30 “swab and send” testing locations throughout Maine.
“Increased access to testing is a critical part of the strategy to mitigate the spread of this deadly virus, to return kids to school safely, and to ensure that our economy stays up and running,” said Governor Janet Mills. “This expanded order is another step forward in our ongoing battle against COVID-19 as Maine continues to be a national leader in testing capacity.”
Because of the disproportionate impact of the virus on communities of color in Maine, the CDC continues to encourage people of color, and others at high risk of COVID-19, to get tested.
While more people in Maine can now get tested under the Standing Order at participating sites, not everyone should get tested, as resources must continue to be used wisely. Maine CDC does not recommend, for example, that people get tested for peace of mind before visiting another household or attending a gathering. This is because a person could already have been exposed but been tested too early for the virus to be detected, or could be exposed to COVID-19 after getting tested. Testing alone is not prevention, and a negative test does not necessarily mean it’s safe to gather with others.
The best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are to practice physical distancing and good hand hygiene and wear a face covering in public.
For a complete and frequently updated list of COVID-19 testing sites in Maine, visit Get-Tested-COVID19.org.
DHHS covers the full costs of specimen collection and lab testing for any COVID-19 lab test done at one of the State-contracted Swab and Send sites through at least October 31, 2020. For other testing sites, individuals should confirm coverage with their health plan as well as ask about any payments that may be required.
The DHHS Standing Order Stand
It’s always best to call a testing site before going to schedule an appointment, which is typically required. Policies on minimum age for testing vary among locations, so individuals should check before seeking a test for anyone under 18. Children 12 months and younger should see a health care provider for a COVID-19 test.
Maine ranks first in the nation on the percentage of people tested according to a target level developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute.
For a list of frequently asked questions on the Standing Order, visit https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/documents/Standing-Order-FAQ-9-22-20.pdf.