WESTBROOK, Maine — The state's ability to test more people for COVID-19, as well as track cases, is playing a big role in the easing of restrictions as more sectors of Maine's economy continue to reopen.
Since early May, the Westbrook-based lab IDEXX has been providing 5,000 tests to the Maine CDC weekly - more than tripling the state's testing capacity. IDEXX is leveraging its innovation and research to meet a critical need.
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the dire need for more and accurate testing didn't go unnoticed by the world's leader in diagnostic testing for animals.
Jay Mazelsky is the President and CEO of IDEXX,
"We saw the need and knew we could do something about it. We do a million tests a month to apply our technology, manufacturing to help out," Mazelsky said.
The company had already developed a diagnostic test for animals prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Cats, and in very rare cases dogs, can be at risk for the virus. Veterinarians are using this tool on animals who show symptoms.
IDEXX reached out to the Maine CDC and offered to make a test for humans. The company used some of the research used for animals and developed a test for patients. It took 4 to 6 weeks to make the test kit, which underwent the FDA's emergency authorization approval process.
Under the partnership, IDEXX is making 5,000 test kits weekly, allowing anyone in Maine suspected of having COVID-19 to receive a test.
The IDEXX test kits include analyzers, a piece of equipment that lab techs use to extract the virus to be sampled.
IDEXX is also using its capacity to make test kits for NorDx, the largest private regional lab in Maine, and provides primary lab serves for Maine Health Hospitals and physician.
Mazelsky says IDEXX and it's workforce are willing to consider rising again to the challenge if there another public health crisis.