AUGUSTA, Maine — On Tuesday, July 14, the Gov. Janet Mills administration announced a partnership between the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and seven health care organizations that will launch nearly 20 "swab and send" COVID-19 testing sites in Maine.
The following week on Tuesday, July 21, Maine DHHS announced four additional sites would be set up in Westbrook, Skowhegan, Lincoln, and Sanford. These 22 sites complement the roughly 40 current testing sites already available to the public. DHHS aims to further increase the number of testing sites outside of health care office settings and continues to accept applications for the swab and send effort to ensure access throughout Maine.
Maine DHHS also announced Tuesday $1 million in federal funding will be awarded to 25 rural hospitals to increase their labs' capacity to process COVID-19 tests. Additionally, a second round of grants will be given out to municipalities under the Keep Maine Healthy Plan to support local COVID-19 public health, education, and prevention efforts.
Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew spoke about the updates Tuesday in the Maine CDC coronavirus briefing. Watch here:
The drive-thru, drive up, and mobile testing sites, under agreements with DHHS, will offer specimen collection free of charge to any individuals who believe they may have COVID-19 or could have been exposed to the virus, with or without symptoms, as defined under the DHHS Standing Order. This includes health care and hospitality workers, people of color given known racial disparities in COVID-19, those who have participated in large gatherings, and visitors from other states with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 than in Maine, among others. Under the Standing Order, these individuals at elevated risk may get tested without an order from a health care provider.
“Expanding access to testing is critical to keeping COVID-19 infection rates in Maine relatively low,” DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said. “Creating Maine-based testing capacity is especially important as national laboratories struggle to handle other states’ surge of COVID-19 cases. It prevents the Maine State lab from experiencing the shortages of testing supplies and re-agents that occurred early in the pandemic. We thank these health care organizations for partnering with us to continue to protect the health of Maine people and visitors.”
Sites in Brewer, Old Town, Augusta, Belfast, Calais, Bar Harbor are already in operation and others will come online in the next two weeks, the Administration says.
Maine DHHS is working with other organizations to stand up additional swab and send sites to improve access throughout Maine.
The 22 current and proposed swab and send sites are:
- Bangor – Northern Light
- Brewer – PCHC
- Old Town – PCHC
- Augusta – MaineGeneral
- Portland – Northern Light
- South Portland – Northern Light
- Belfast – PCHC
- Ellsworth – Northern Light
- Blue Hill – Northern Light
- Dover-Foxcroft – Northern Light
- Presque Isle – Northern Light
- Calais – Calais Regional Hospital
- Greenville – Northern Light
- Waterville – Northern Light
- Pittsfield – Northern Light
- Bar Harbor – MDI Hospital
- Fort Kent – Northern Maine Medical Center
- Mobile site – Promerica Health
- The City of Westbrook
- Skowhegan – Redington-Fairview General Hospital
- Lincoln – Penobscot Valley Hospital
- Sanford – York County Community Action Corp./Nasson Health Care
The Department is also separately supporting York Hospital in its drive-through point-of-care testing site which has been open since July 1, 2020.
Some of the participating health care organizations as well as other organizations are offering testing at additional sites outside of the swab and send agreement with DHHS. For a complete and frequently updated list of all COVID-19 testing sites in Maine, visit Get-Tested-COVID19.org.
The 22 swab and send testing sites represent a variety of models. Promerica Health, a Falmouth-based health engagement company, will deploy its mobile health vehicles to underserved areas. MDI Hospital is partnering with employers to test asymptomatic frontline workers beginning July 20. Other organizations have adapted quickly to provide drive-up or drive-thru testing on or near their existing health care facilities.
"PCHC is proud to be a swab and send COVID testing site," Lori Dwyer, President and CEO of PCHC said. "Having convenient access to testing sites and relatively quick results is critical to ensuring Maine can continue its strong public health response to the pandemic and help keep as many people as possible safe and healthy."
These 18 sites complement the roughly 40 current testing sites already available to the public. DHHS aims to further increase the number of testing sites outside of health care office settings and continues to accept applications for the swab and send effort.
DHHS will support the testing of samples from the swab and send sites at HETL through an expanded partnership with Maine-based IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. Under the partnership, a new mobile lab anchored at the State lab in Augusta will quadruple current testing capacity in the coming weeks.
According to the Administration, in June, the state's public and private labs conducted nearly 45,000 tests, surpassing the minimum by approximately 75 percent. As of July 13, Maine ranked, on a population-adjusted basis, 6th lowest on cases, 5th lowest on hospitalizations of 36 states reporting them, 9th lowest on deaths, and 3rd highest on the percent of people recovered out of 45 states reporting.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
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