New mobile lab to quadruple state’s COVID-19 testing capacity

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and IDEXX announced Thursday the start of operations of a new mobile lab that will more than quadruple the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity.The new mobile lab is located at the state lab in Augusta. Weekly testing capacity will increase from 6,000 per week to more than 25,000 per week.The mobile lab is part of the state’s going partnership with IDEXX for COVID-19 testing in Maine.DHHS also announced that it has extended federal funding for 27 swab-and-send sites through at least Oct. 31.The funding allows the sites to offer testing free of charge. After October, swab and sends will bill insurance companies for the service.As the state announced increasing its testing capacity, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention walked back new guidelines that said people without COVID-19 symptoms might not need to get tested even if they have close contact with someone who has the virus.The U.S. CDC altered its guidelines to say people who had close contact with someone with COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms don’t necessarily need a test.Maine Center for Disease and Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Maine is making not changes it its testing guidelines.”Our view is that you don’t stop the plows in the middle of the storm. You keep plowing, or in this setting, you keep testing,” Shah said.Since June, the Maine CDC’s website has had a standing order that allows someone to get tested for COVID-19 if they have had close contact with someone with the virus but are not showing symptoms.”The way that we have been doing this, what we have adopted for many months is what is best for public health,” Shah said.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and IDEXX announced Thursday the start of operations of a new mobile lab that will more than quadruple the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

The new mobile lab is located at the state lab in Augusta. Weekly testing capacity will increase from 6,000 per week to more than 25,000 per week.

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The mobile lab is part of the state’s going partnership with IDEXX for COVID-19 testing in Maine.

DHHS also announced that it has extended federal funding for 27 swab-and-send sites through at least Oct. 31.

The funding allows the sites to offer testing free of charge. After October, swab and sends will bill insurance companies for the service.

As the state announced increasing its testing capacity, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention walked back new guidelines that said people without COVID-19 symptoms might not need to get tested even if they have close contact with someone who has the virus.

The U.S. CDC altered its guidelines to say people who had close contact with someone with COVID-19 but are not showing symptoms don’t necessarily need a test.

Maine Center for Disease and Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Maine is making not changes it its testing guidelines.

“Our view is that you don’t stop the plows in the middle of the storm. You keep plowing, or in this setting, you keep testing,” Shah said.

Since June, the Maine CDC’s website has had a standing order that allows someone to get tested for COVID-19 if they have had close contact with someone with the virus but are not showing symptoms.

“The way that we have been doing this, what we have adopted for many months is what is best for public health,” Shah said.