Plans are reportedly not yet in place to ensure testing locations are fully informed of the standing order – if possible visit Maine CDC website and print standing order and also call testing site before you go
AUGUSTA— The Mills Administration announced today that it will quadruple COVID-19 testing capacity at the State lab, develop testing sites throughout Maine, and allow more people in Maine with elevated risk of exposure to get tested for the virus.
This means individuals can seek testing even if they don’t have a primary care provider or a written order from a clinician if they face a higher risk of exposure, with or without experiencing symptoms.
The plan includes a standing order allowing most people in Maine with elevated risk to get a COVID-19 test without the need for a separate order from a health care provider. According to Jackie Farwell, Communications Director, Maine Department of Health and Human Services, this would include people of color who live in communities where there are high rates of infection and/or who work in settings where there is elevated risk of exposure, including but not limited to seasonal and migrant agricultural workers, employees of lodging facilities and congregate living settings, and employees of businesses who have direct, daily contact with members of the public. The standing order includes those who work in grocery stores.
Under the plan, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is building on its partnership with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. to create a new mobile lab anchored at the State lab in Augusta which will quadruple current testing capacity. DHHS will utilize this added capacity by developing “swab and send” locations across Maine to ensure that 90 percent of residents can get tested within 30 minutes of their home.
The plan announced today will bolster capacity further through the following steps:
- Creating a New Mobile Laboratory: DHHS and IDEXX are expanding their existing partnership to expand the State’s laboratory capacity through a new mobile laboratory to be stationed at the State’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) in Augusta. As a result of this new capacity, starting in July, the State lab will be able to process an additional 25,000 tests a week, quadrupling current capacity. This added capacity is made possible through purchasing at least 350,000 additional test kits, bringing on IDEXX personnel, and the new mobile lab, which will serve as an extension of HETL. The initiative is supported by federal funding. DHHS expects to finalize a contract with IDEXX in the coming week.
- Creating “Swab and Send” Sites: DHHS will utilize this added capacity by developing 20 “swab and send” locations across Maine to ensure that 90 percent of residents can get tested within 30 minutes of their home. These 20 sites will complement the roughly 40 current testing sites available to the public. This week, DHHS will formally invite applications for federal grant funding to support the establishment of these specimen collection sites and testing of their samples at HETL. This greater access to safe and accessible testing will also extend to tourists, seasonal workers, and other visitors to Maine.
The expansion of testing announced today parallels the Mills Administration’s expansion of COVID-19 contact tracing for the State of Maine. Maine DHHS is now recruiting and adding skilled staff and volunteers to conduct contact tracing statewide. DHHS has also secured contracts with local organizations throughout the state to help people with COVID-19 maintain self-isolation through social supports, including food, psychological and emotional first aid, and case management, along with providing linguistically and culturally appropriate information about COVID-19.