New guidance encourages workers potentially exposed on the job to visit Walgreens for routine testing
On Wednesday, June 2, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced expanded options for routine COVID-19 rapid testing at Walgreens and other locations throughout the state to support Maine people potentially exposed on the job and others who would benefit from testing.
DHHS has issued updated guidance for the Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests distributed by the State that encourages individuals who work in health care, hospitality, retail, and other public-facing industries to get tested for COVID-19 up to twice weekly, even without symptoms. Previously, rapid testing was recommended only for people experiencing symptoms, close contacts of confirmed cases, and certain critical infrastructure staff through employer-based surveillance testing. With this change, Maine DHHS encourages anyone who works in a setting with elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission to get tested routinely, particularly those who are unvaccinated. This test also can be used by people with symptoms of COVID-19.
While 64 percent of Maine residents aged 20 and older are fully vaccinated, nearly 400,000 remain at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
Through an agreement with DHHS, Walgreens’ locations provide free rapid antigen testing by appointment to those age 3 and older at 61 locations across Maine. Walgreens’ patrons self-collect a sample with a nasal swab under the supervision of Walgreens’ staff and submit the sample through the drive-through window, with results available in as little as an hour.
“While COVID-19 rates are declining in Maine, testing remains critical to keeping our businesses open and our communities healthy as we get out and about this summer,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “If you’re concerned about your exposure to the virus through your job, we encourage you to visit any Walgreens’ location in Maine to monitor your health with a series of free, rapid tests.”
“Getting a COVID-19 test is simple, free, and protects you, your family, and your community,” said Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “If you think you may have been exposed, and especially if you are not feeling well or you are unvaccinated, stop by a Walgreens’ location. When in doubt, get a test.”
Testing identifies people infected by the virus early, often before symptoms appear, allowing them to isolate to limit the number of additional people infected. Getting a test when you have a fever, headache, chills, fatigue, or difficulty breathing allows you to determine if you have allergies, a common cold or if this is the highly contagious and serious virus.
For a list of Walgreens’ locations providing rapid COVID-19 testing visit maine.gov/covid19/keepmainehealthy/testing. Maine also has more than two dozen “swab and send” testing locations that offer molecular testing at no charge. Maine people may also call 211 for information on COVID-19 testing options.