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State officials say expanded testing capacity is a big step

(WSAZ)
Published: May. 18, 2020 at 5:55 PM EDT
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The state's new coronavirus testing capacity is a "game-changer."

That's according to the director of the Maine CDC.

Monday Governor Mills made the announcement testing has now expanded to anyone suspected of having COVID-19.

Dr. Nirav Shah say this is a big step for the state.

He says the CDC is prepared to conduct about 7,000 tests a week.

Shah says it's a system they want in place so they can detect cases they know are already out there and avoid people potentially spreading the illness.

"We will continue to see cases, but that's different from knowing that there's more transmission. Many of the cases we've detected would have always been there, were just now seeing them, finding them, confirming them. It's an anticipated increase which distinguishes it from a new surprise. That's what happened in many other states for quite sometime," says Shah.

Shah says they are working with health care providers to make sure they understand testing is available for any suspected cases.

Health care providers in Maine were sent an alert Monday that COVID-19 testing prioritization has been eliminated which is thanks to their partnership with Westbrook-based IDEXX labs.

"We will continue to see cases, but that's different from knowing that there's more transmission. Many of the cases we've detected would have always been there, were just now seeing them, finding them, confirming them. It's an anticipated increase which distinguishes it from a new surprise. That's what happened in many other states for quite sometime," he said.

Shah says they are working with health care providers to make sure they understand testing is available for any suspected cases.

They hope to keep expanding that ability, too.