DHHS, University of Maine System partner to expand public COVID-19 testing to UMM campus


Jackie Farwell, DHHS

Dan Demeritt, UMS

New “swab and send” site opening Nov. 23 at the University of Maine at Machias

The University of Maine at Machias is becoming the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ newest “swab and send” site, providing free COVID-19 tests to people who think they need a test, regardless of symptoms and without the need for a referral from a health provider.

Testing will be available on Mondays from noon to 4 p.m. starting, Nov. 23 and will continue at the Machias campus through at least the week of Jan. 25, 2021, when in-person instruction resumes across the University of Maine System for the spring semester. Appointments are required and will be available via online scheduling starting Nov. 19; visit the Keep Maine Healthy website for more information.

The University of Maine at Machias, a regional campus of the University of Maine, will be the second DHHS swab and send location in Washington County, joining Calais Regional Hospital. The campus-based testing center will have the capacity to conduct an average of 150 tests per week and will send specimens to the State Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta.

In addition to the swab and send agreement with DHHS, the testing at UMM is made possible through another agreement the University of Maine System reached with the Maine Emergency Management Agency to coordinate requests for assistance and deployment of resources in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“We thank the University of Maine System for partnering with the Mills Administration to expand access to free COVID-19 testing in the Down East region,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew.  “Convenient access to testing in Maine communities is vital to identifying cases of COVID-19 and taking action to limit the spread of the virus.”

Leveraging partnership to serve the people of Washington County

The University of Maine System will have conducted approximately 40,000 asymptomatic tests for COVID-19 as part of the screening and monitoring strategies developed in support of its Together for Maine safe return and public health campaign through this fall semester. It will expand this testing through this new partnership. For the Machias swab and send site, UMS will support ConvenientMD, one of its private testing partners, to collect samples and provide wraparound support services. DHHS will  share a portion of the sample collection costs,  and process the samples using its molecular (PCR) testing capacity at the State lab. COVID-19 testing will be free of charge to the general public, including UMM students, faculty and staff.

“Our testing strategies have kept COVID-19 in check this semester, protecting our students, our employees and our neighbors in Orono, Machias and across Maine,” said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, President of University of Maine and UMM, who also chairs the UMS Scientific Advisory Board that advises on COVID testing strategies and related pandemic operations. “At the Thanksgiving break, we are transitioning to distance instruction for the remainder of the semester. We will now deploy the capacity that we developed to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe this fall to provide testing in Machias for the Washington County residents we proudly serve.”

“Our success in bringing students together for Maine this semester has been due in large part to the leadership of state and public health officials who have worked tirelessly and effectively to minimize the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on our state,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy.  “Working together to make swab and send testing available in Machias is another example of university and state partnership at work for Mainers.”

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to help expand access to COVID-19 testing in rural Maine,” says UMM Head of Campus Dan Qualls. “UMM stands ready to support this critical effort to serve the needs of our community.”