Maine CDC Press Release

March 9, 2020

Maine CDC Lab Testing for COVID-19

No confirmed cases in the state

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) is now testing for 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) in Augusta.

The state lab on Friday completed protocols to be able to conduct testing. The U.S. CDC authorizes state labs to conduct testing and prioritized those authorizations based on the need in each state. Samples collected in Maine before Friday were sent to the U.S. CDC lab for testing. At present, there have been no positive cases for individuals in Maine. Some results from samples sent to the U.S. CDC lab are pending.

As of today and moving forward, samples will be tested at HETL. Results for tests from HETL typically can be expected within 48 hours of receipt. The first round of results for tests conducted at HETL is expected by Tuesday.

Samples that test positive for COVID-19 at HETL will be classified as presumptive positive and will be sent to the U.S. CDC lab for confirmation. At present, Maine has no presumptive positive or confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Maine CDC will announce a presumptive positive or confirmed case.

The state lab has capacity to complete testing for 100 to 200 patients per day. To date, that capacity far exceeds the demand for COVID-19 testing in Maine. Samples are being processed promptly. Maine CDC has a plan to replenish testing supplies as needed.

Under the latest U.S. CDC testing criteria, medical providers determine who should be tested for COVID-19. Individuals who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, shortness of breath, or other lower respiratory distress, should contact a medical provider before going to a health care facility. Providers will screen individuals and use the revised U.S. CDC criteria to determine whether testing is warranted. To date, fewer than 100 individuals in Maine have met that criteria, though that figure is fluid and continually changing.

The best thing that Maine people can do to protect their health is to take the same preventive measures that help to avoid catching a cold: Wash your hands often. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you are sick.

Maine CDC continues comprehensive planning to ensure Maine is ready should the virus affect people here. Governor Janet Mills has convened a Coronavirus Response Team, led by Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah, charged with coordinating State government's response across departments and local agencies and health authorities to the potential spread of COVID-19.

Maine CDC remains committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information about the 2019 novel coronavirus to Maine people. Please visit the Maine CDC website at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus.