Increased access to testing for COVID-19 is a critical part of our strategy to mitigate the spread of this deadly virus, to be able to return kids to school safely, and ensure that our economy gets back up and running.
And it is working.
Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.
Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jeanne Lambrew and I announced this week that anyone in Maine can now be tested for COVID-19 at participating sites without a separate order from a health care provider.
This expanded testing access is possible because we have ramped up operations at the State lab, we’ve partnered with Maine-based company IDEXX Laboratories Inc., and we’ve developed nearly 30 "swab and send" testing locations throughout the state.
As of September 21, Maine was conducting 400 tests per 100,000 people. It’s a state record. Maine ranks first in the nation on the percentage of people tested according to a target level developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute.
Previously, people with known exposure or elevated risk of exposure to the virus could get tested, with or without symptoms, under our DHHS Standing Order.
But now, the Standing Order also includes anyone over the age of 12 months - anyone who feels they need a test or their parents feels they need a test - who is not otherwise at high risk, with or without symptoms.
Course, just because anyone can get tested doesn’t mean everyone should. Our testing resources must continue to be used wisely. Testing alone is not prevention, and a negative test does not necessarily mean it's safe to gather with others. The best way to prevent the spread of this COVID-19 is to practice the public health measures that have kept Maine’s infection rates relatively low to date, among the best in the nation.
For a list of all sites providing tests to people under the Standing Order and without requiring a provider referral, please visit the Keep Maine Healthy website — that’s Keep Maine Healthy.
Some organizations are offering testing to their patients at additional sites as well. For a complete frequently updated list of COVID-19 test sites in Maine, visit Get-Tested-COVID19.org.
You know it’s always best to call a testing site before going to schedule an appointment, which is typically required. And they have policies on minimum age, some of them, so you should check before seeking a test for anyone under 18. Children under the age of 12 months should see a health care provider before a COVID-19 test.
While this represents a significant milestone, testing alone will not defeat this virus. Maine people must remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
You’ve got to remember to wash your hands frequently, maintain six feet of distance, stay home whenever you can and wear a face covering when you’re out in public when it is hard to maintain six feet of distance between ourselves and others or just wear a face covering in general to be sure.
Please, do not attend or organize large gatherings, don’t have big parties indoors or outdoors. Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean it’s a great thing to have a party. Don’t take a chance, please.
We’ve all read in the newspapers where some have taken those chances and disastrous, tragic results have ensued.
If we protect ourselves and our communities and one another by taking the steps we’re talking about, we can keep restarting our economy and reopening schools in a safe way, and limiting the spread of this dangerous virus as we welcome autumn here in Maine.
This is Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening and please stay safe.