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UMaine System announces mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for spring semester

The University of Maine System is partnering with Shield T3 beginning on February 1, 2021, to test everyone participating in on-campus activities.

ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine System (UMS) announced on Friday it is partnering with Shield T3 for universal COVID-19 testing this coming semester.

UMS will use a "test-trace-isolate strategy" for the spring semester which means everyone going to school or working in the UMaine System for in-person learning will be tested once a week for COVID-19.

By partnering with Shield T3, UMS will be getting about 16,000 saliva-based PCR tests a week and people will get test results in 24 hours or less.

UMS will get a mobile testing laboratory at UMaine Orono where the tests will be processed.

According to the press release sent out by UMS, it takes less than three minutes to administer the test and then it is 99.8%-99.9% accurate in detecting a 'true negative result'. The release goes on to add that all positive tests will be retested to reduce the chance of false positives.

The weekly required testing will run from February 1, 2021 - May 8, 2021.

Until the first of the month, the university system will continue to work with its existing test partners for students arriving back to the dorms. Members of the university community arriving on campus from out of state will be required to provide a negative test within 72 hours of arrival.

"The public health commitment and leadership of our students, faculty, and staff got us through the fall semester together," Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in the press release. "Thanks to an additional resource authorized by Governor Mills, we will be able to test and report results promptly every week for every UMS community member who has in-person, on-campus experiences - a testing schedule that we believe is critical to maintaining out academic operations through the current state of the pandemic," he added.

Gov. Janet Mills has allocated $6.5 million in federal CARES Act money to reimburse the system for fall testing expenses which will help with some $17-$20 million price tag for spring testing.

The University System estimates $100 million for all its COVID-19 impacts including expenses and lost revenue.

"We know that the right thing to do is to go to universal testing once a week," UMaine Orono President Joan Ferrini-Mundy said.

"To contain the virus before it spreads further on our campuses," Rebecca Wyke, UMaine Augusta President added.

Shield T3 has partnered with other universities to provide COVID-19 testing, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, The University of Illinois System, and The University of Notre Dame.