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Officials announce opening of nearly 20 swab and send sites across the state

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 6:45 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Nearly 20 “swab and send” COVID-19 test collection sites will be active in the state within the next two weeks.

The Mills Administration announced Tuesday seven healthcare organizations will collectively launch the sites, some of which have already started operating.

DHHS is finalizing agreements with the following organizations:

  • Northern Light Health
  • Penobscot Community Healthcare
  • MaineGeneral Medical Center
  • Mount Desert Island Hospital
  • Calais Regional Hospital
  • Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC)
  • Promerica Health LLC

The 18 drive-through, drive up and mobile specimen collection sites will offer testing free of charge.

It’s for any individual who believes they may have COVID-19, with or without symptoms.

Tests will also be available to those who fall under the current standing order.

”This includes healthcare and hospitality workers, people of color given known racial disparities in COVID-19, and visitors from other states with a higher prevalence of COVID-19 than in Maine, among others,” says DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew.

Sites will be spread across the state including:

  • 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
This map shows "swab and send" location across the state.
This map shows "swab and send" location across the state.(Emily Tadlock)

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.

150 out of 100,000 people are being tested each day

in Maine for the coronavirus.

The state’s CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah says that’s a 53 percent increase in volume since last month.

With this increased testing capacity and new “swab and send” sites opening across the state, how often should someone be tested?

Dr. Shah says there is no uniform answer to this question.

Organizations representing frontline workers and first responders often have recommendations for those workers.

As for hospitality and front-facing business employees, Dr. Shah says it depends on how comfortable you are.

”Some data suggests every week, other data suggests that if you’re in a county where the background rate of disease is lower, it could be every couple of weeks, even some folks are saying up to every month. So, it really does vary,” he says.

Doctor Shah says the “swab and send” sites are able to accommodate that type of use.

A recent analysis by the Harvard Global Health Institute ranked Maine fifth in the nation for its testing compared to a measure of sufficiency. Maine’s existing testing activity already far exceeds the U.S. CDC recommended minimum of testing 2 percent of the population per month. 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
  • 3rd highest on the percent of people recovered out of 45 states reporting.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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