COVID-19: Maine Expands Testing Capacity; Modifies Tourism Requirements
On Monday, June 8, 2020, Maine Governor Janet Mills announced that the state has built on its partnership with IDEXX Laboratories to quadruple its COVID-19 testing capacity. This expanded testing capacity, which will begin in July, will be provided through the following steps:
- Creation of a new mobile laboratory to be stationed at the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta. This new capacity will allow the state lab to process an additional 25,000 tests per week.
- Development of an additional 20 “swab and send” locations in Maine to ensure that 90% of residents can get tested within 30 minutes of their home. The 20 sites will complement the roughly 40 testing sites currently available to the public, and will also be available to tourists, seasonal workers, and other visitors to Maine.
- Enabling most people in Maine with elevated risk to get a COVID-19 test without the need for a separate order from a health care provider.
Keep Maine Healthy Plan
As a result of the expanded testing capacity, on June 9, Governor Mills issued Executive Order 57 which authorizes the “Keep Maine Healthy” plan, and provides an alternative to Maine’s 14-day quarantine requirement for visitors. The Plan, which includes the quarantine alternative, aims to protect the health of Maine’s residents and visitors while allowing tourists the opportunity to vacation in Maine. The three cornerstones of the plan are outlined below.
Testing as an Alternative to Quarantine
The state will allow adults who obtain and receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to arrival to forgo the 14-day quarantine requirement. Visitors are encouraged to get tested and receive their test results in their home state before traveling to Maine. Any individual who chooses to be tested upon arrival in Maine must quarantine while awaiting the results.
Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are exempt from both the testing requirement and the 14-day quarantine requirement for travel to Maine effective immediately (June 9) and for stays in lodging establishments effective on Friday, June 12.
Effective Wednesday, July 1, people who are not residents of Maine, New Hampshire, or Vermont will not have to quarantine if they sign a Certificate of Compliance indicating they have received a negative COVID-19 test result within the required 72 hours. This form will be made available on the website of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which has posted a draft, Maine Certificate of Compliance: Keep Maine Healthy. The Department will post the final form by June 12. The form must be provided in order to check in at all Maine lodging facilities, campgrounds, seasonal rentals, overnight camps, and other commercial lodging (i.e. Airbnb) sites. Visitors may be asked to furnish proof of negative test results upon request.
Increased Symptom Checking
The Department of Health and Human Services will increase symptom checks in high-traffic places in tourist destinations by partnering with the Maine Community College System to enlist Maine students in the health professions to ask visitors about such symptoms and to offer advice on staying healthy. Additionally, the Department of Transportation will place signs at key sites (such as major roadways, parks, ferries, etc.) instructing people to stay home or seek medical care if they experience symptoms of COVID-19.
High-density private sector businesses (i.e. retail stores) will be encouraged to use symptom checks as well.
Supporting Local Public Health and Prevention Efforts
The state will incentivize municipalities to develop and implement their own COVID-19 prevention and protection plans by using up to $13 million from the federal funds allocated to the state from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to reimburse municipal costs associated with public health education and prevention activities related to COVID-19. Local prevention and education plans must include a point of contact for the municipality and provide for one or more of the following:
- Public education activities: printing and posting COVID-19 prevention information and developing local educational activities that are consistent with CDC guidelines.
- Physical distancing and public health support: fences, tape, and signage for physical distancing in public spaces and closed streets; personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer for all staff; extra cleaning supplies; etc.
- Assistance for local businesses: including time for a Code Enforcement Officer, Local Health Officer, or other person to be the local contact for educating local businesses on best practices.