Maine CDC Director says increased testing capacity is imperative to detect a resurgence after re-opening

Published: May. 5, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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25 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tyson Foods Plant in Portland.

This in addition to the 12 cases already reported.

This brings the total there to 37 cases.

The 25 new cases will be added to Wednesday's statewide case count.

All of the plant's 391 full-time employees have now been tested according to the CDC.

The plant shut down over the weekend and the head of the CDC says it's expected to stay closed until at least Thursday.

Health officials will conduct more contact tracing with the workers.

Doctor Nirav Shah says testing capacity continues to be an issue in the state, especially at the CDC lab in Augusta.

But they are working on ways to increase that.

Dr. Shah says, "We have been working with an organization to try to at least double that capacity, if not go even further to try to make sure that the Maine CDC laboratory can offer a test and conduct a test for any healthcare provider who requests it in the state. We hope that an announcement on that is coming soon but of course there are a lot of moving pieces in any such deal like that."

He says quick turn around on testing results is imperative in detecting a resurgence as the state begins reopening.

He says detecting a resurgence could take as little as a week to as long as 23 days.

Timing depends on how quickly people develop symptoms, go to the doctor and get tested, and how long it takes to get those results back and report them to the CDC.

Doctor Shah says that's why increasing testing capacity is so important.

He says, "Every single day that it takes for a specimen to be shipped somewhere and for a result to be done adds another day before we know what was going on. As we think about reopening, having that timely return of results, ideally within 24 hours, is more critical than ever. That's one of the key factors that we are evaluating before we ask any laboratory to do more and more tests for us."

He says as of now, they will continue to monitor numbers closely in the state to try and prevent a resurgence.