February 25, 2021
The Maine DHHS Office of Child and Family Services announced today that due to increased availability of BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, distribution of the rapid test kits will be expanded to the 1,726 licensed child care providers that have the capacity to serve 41,792 children.
The BinaxNOW tests can detect COVID-19 from a nasal swab sample in about 15 minutes. The intended use for these tests is for asymptomatic employees who have been identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 positive case. Testing of asymptomatic staff who are deemed close contacts allows them to forego the need for quarantine for ten days and continue to provide care, provided that they test negative. The test result can help preserve the workforce, allowing for continuity of care for children, and helps reduces the risk of COVID-19 spread within child care settings.
There are several requirements for receiving and using BinaxNOW Test Cards, including training and reporting, which DHHS is distributing to licensed child care providers through guidance today. These tests are part of the State’s purchase earlier this month of 250,000 BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests that have been prioritized for schools, child care facilities, health care and long-term care sites.
Child care providers also have other testing options available, including rapid testing at Walgreens pharmacy sites across the state, which are accessible to all Maine residents.
Maine’s efforts to support child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic are having a positive impact. In Maine, 93% of child care providers are open statewide, up from a low of just over 50% at the start of the pandemic. Providers have diligently worked to keep children and families safe, resulting in fewer than 10% of all providers having a single positive COVID-19 test within their facility since the start of the pandemic.
OCFS has regularly updated COVID-19 guidance for providers and their staff, as well as providing $10 million in Federal CARES Act funding directly to providers through stipends and grants. The Mills Administration additionally made available $8.4 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to child care providers to reimburse them for COVID-19-related business costs.