Maine DHHS Press / News Release

March 5, 2020

Maine to Begin Testing for COVID-19 at State Lab

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced today that testing for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the state's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory is expected to begin in the next several days.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC) yesterday updated guidelines to expand the criteria for what makes individuals with symptoms of the virus eligible for COVID-19 testing. Symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

Maine has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at this time. As Maine CDC previously reported, one individual who met earlier federal testing criteria tested negative.

In response to the expansion of federal criteria, more individuals in Maine are being tested. Maine CDC has received new testing equipment, and state lab staff are calibrating it and taking other steps to prepare for testing within the next several days. In the meantime, approximately a dozen samples from individuals in Maine are being sent to the U.S. CDC lab for testing. Results are pending.

Maine CDC will inform the public if positive tests are confirmed and will offer regular updates on testing recommendations. The number of positive test results will be posted to Maine CDC's coronavirus webpage. The number of requests for testing will increase as the COVID-19 situation continues to rapidly evolve globally and in the United States. Moving forward, tests will be conducted at both Maine CDC and U.S. CDC to facilitate prompt results.

Individuals who exhibit symptoms should contact their health care providers, who will make the initial determination on whether COVID-19 testing is advisable. In cases where it is, medical providers will alert the Maine CDC to coordinate testing. As appropriate, health providers will take samples and submit them to Maine CDC.

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.