Starting May 1, residents traveling back to Maine and visitors coming into the state will no longer be required to test or quarantine before entering.

In his Tuesday, April 27, briefing, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the policy announced today may change if states show a high level of variants causing increases in case levels.

“Right now,” he said, “there are no states on that exceptions list.”

The reason for the change in policy boils down to more people across the country being vaccinated, he said. With increased vaccination rates, Shah said, the likelihood that any one individual may pose a risk to someone here in Maine “goes down commensurately.”

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services said the Mills administration announced today a partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks for school batch testing starting in May.

Schools will have the option to test pre-K through 12th grade students and staff weekly with "pool" type testing. The free test involves collecting swabs from small groups of consenting students or staff such as a classroom. The swabs would be combined in a batch, or a pool, then tested.

If the pool results are positive, the individuals in the group will be retested using the Rapid BinaxNow or PCR test. Positive individuals would then be sent home to isolation.

Lambrew said this option will be available starting in May for the remainder of the school year, through summer programming, and for the 2021-22 school year.

A walk-in clinic with no appointment needed is operating at Biddeford High School gym Wednesday, April 28. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being offered and walk-in appointments, Shah said, are available and encouraged. The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The pop-up mobile clinic will then move to the Fryeburg Fairgrounds and start operations there Friday, April 30. Similarly, appointments are not necessary and walk-ins are encouraged as well. "If going to Biddeford or Fryeburg is an option for you," Shah said, "I recommend taking advantage of this opportunity."

New guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday indicates that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors unless in crowded areas.

Gov. Janet Mills issued a statement Tuesday reflecting the CDC guidance. Shah said he still recommends people wear face coverings in outdoor settings where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing. People are still required to wear masks in indoor public settings and there are no changes to the state’s physical distancing requirements.

The Maine CDC today reported five individuals who have died with COVID-19. They include three women and two men; one in their 50s, one in their 70s and three in their 80s. Two were from Androscoggin County, and one each from Oxford, Cumberland and Piscataquis counties. In all, 777 Mainers have died from the disease since the pandemic began.

As of today, 425 new COVID-19 cases were reported. Of the total, 162 were from April 26, 250 were from April 25, and 13 were from April 24. Currently 119 people are in the hospital, 49 in intensive care units and 14 on ventilators.

Overall, 1,097,807 doses of vaccine have been administered in the state; 613,854 first doses and 483,953 final doses. Among eligible people in the state, 54.5% have had at least their first shot, Shah said, and 43% have gotten all the shots they need.

filed under: