Maine Purchases 250,000 BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Tests

FILE - This Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 file photo shows a BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by...
FILE - This Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 file photo shows a BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories, in Tacoma, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)(Ted S. Warren | AP)
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 11:57 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WAGM) -Governor Janet Mills announced today that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services has purchased an additional 250,000 COVID-19 rapid antigen tests from Maine-based manufacturer Abbott Labs and will distribute them to Walgreens pharmacies, health care sites, schools, and congregate care settings across Maine in January and February. This purchase of rapid antigen tests is one of the largest ever by the State and represents nearly a quarter of all the rapid tests the State has made available since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services ordered the additional BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests to increase the availability of free tests for all Maine residents administered at Walgreens pharmacy locations across the state. Additionally, these rapid tests will support the testing of Maine’s health care workforce, school staff, and students through the pooled testing program, as well as staff and residents of congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, and correctional facilities.

“Widely available, accessible, and affordable COVID-19 testing is crucial to detecting COVID-19 and reducing its spread,” said Governor Janet Mills. “With Maine, like the rest of the nation, experiencing a shortage of tests, this purchase will increase the supply and availability of tests across the state and help keep Maine people healthy. My Administration will continue to work hard to expand testing options, including looking at options to distribute tests directly to Maine people. First and foremost, however, I urge all Maine people to get vaccinated and boosted and to wear a mask when in indoor public places.”

“These rapid COVID-19 tests will help increase the availability of testing across Maine as well as in hospitals, schools, and similar settings,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) Director Nirav D. Shah. “While this is a step in the right direction, we will continue to work to make testing more easily and readily available across Maine to detect the virus early and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

To date, the Department of Health and Human Services has provided 1,079,940 rapid antigen tests to these and other settings, also including child care providers, retail pharmacies, and community-based organizations, through ongoing distributions to ensure access to testing among populations with an elevated risk of COVID-19.

Maine DHHS and Maine CDC continue to add COVID-19 testing options – and, at the direction of Governor Mills, are evaluating potential options to distribute tests directly to Maine people.

On January 5, 2022, Maine also hit a new COVID-19 milestone. According to the U.S. CDC tracker, 80.0 percent of eligible Maine residents, ages 5 and older, have been fully vaccinated.  Maine is the third state in the nation, after Vermont and Rhode Island, to achieve this level of vaccination.

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