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Testing capacity tripled with new IDEXX partnership

By Fran Gonzalez | May 07, 2020
Source: Maine CDC Gov. Janet Mills, left, and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah at the daily briefing May 7.

Gov. Janet Mills announced at the daily Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefing Thursday, May 7, a partnership with IDEXX Laboratories of Westbrook to provide additional diagnostic testing for COVID-19, effectively tripling the state's capacity.

With the additional capacity, she said, it will be possible to better gauge the extent of the virus' spread and remove some of the restrictions associated with opening the state's economy.

Mills said an updated plan to restart the economy would likely be released "very soon," and that this partnership is a "game-changer for Maine."

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the state CDC, said the partnership would increase the availability of reagents, chemicals used in the testing process, which have been in short supply nationwide, and move the state closer to the goal of universal testing at all facilities.

Any medical provider will have the ability to offer a test, Shah said, as will long-term care facilities.

Because of the additional materials, he said, the CDC plans to remove tiered testing, which is currently in place in Maine. "We will be one of the first, if not the first, state to remove all criteria on testing systems," he said.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services said the federally-funded $720,000 contract with IDEXX will give the state the ability to perform an additional 5,000 tests per month. Currently, the state is able to perform 300 tests a day, Shad said, but totals vary according to the availability of reagents.

Mills said testing could be implemented as early as next week.

Shah provided the following update on confirmed cases statewide:

• In total, 1,330 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Maine, a jump of 76 cases since yesterday.

• Of that total, 52 are associated with two recent outbreaks; one at Tyson Foods in Portland, which now has 51 individuals who have tested positive for the virus; and Springbrook Center in Westbrook with 13 individuals who have tested positive for the virus.

• In Waldo County, there are 49 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 31 have recovered, three are hospitalized and 13 have died of the disease.

• In total, 192 individuals have been hospitalized in the state since the start of the pandemic; 39 are hospitalized today.

• 787 have recovered from the virus.

• 286 health care workers have tested positive for the disease.

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