|March 25, 2020
Important Information from Maine CDC
1. Testing at state lab (HETL):
Maine now meets U.S. CDC’s criteria for a Moderate level of community transmission. At present, a limited national supply of laboratory materials inhibits Maine’s testing capacity. Therefore, consistent with U.S. CDC guidelines, Maine is now creating a prioritization system to test individuals in high-risk categories.
To preserve Maine’s specimen collection and testing supplies for patients who may develop severe COVID-19 illness over the coming months, effective immediately, Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) will prioritize testing to high-risk individuals and will only accept specimens for testing from symptomatic individuals who have fever or respiratory symptoms and who fall into one of the following high-risk categories:Tier 1:
- Those who are hospitalized
- Health care workers
- First responders (e.g., EMS Police, Fire)
- Patients living in congregate setting (e.g., LTCFs, group homes, assisted living facilities, jails, shelters)
- Patients older than 60 years
- Patients with underlying medical conditions
Testing within these categories is likely to be prioritized further based on availability of laboratory materials. Presently the emphasis will be on groups within Tier 1. This guidance is in general accordance with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommendations for prioritizing COVID-19 testing for individuals.
- Samples sent to HETL that do not have completed paperwork or that do not meet one of the above criteria will be discarded.
- Samples from individuals who do not fall into any of these six categories should be sent to a commercial laboratory.
2. Swabs for testing:U.S. CDC now recommends collecting a single nasopharyngeal (NP) swab in viral transport media. Throat (OP) swabs are no longer required.
3. Lab Results:HETL will send lab results only to the ordering provider. Maine CDC and HETL do not release results to individuals. U.S. CDC has stated that any positive results from a commercial or state lab will now be considered final and confirmed.
4. Discontinuation of home isolation without testing:On March 16, 2020, US CDC released Interim Guidance on Discontinuation of Home Isolation for Persons with COVID-19. Patients have to be fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medications) for 72 hours and have to have improvement in respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath). If this timeframe means it is less than 7 days since symptom onset, they have to wait until 7 days after onset of symptoms before they can be released from isolation.
5. Scheduled Maine CDC webinars:
Maine CDC is hosting regular interactive (Zoom) webinars for the following groups
6. Keep up to date with COVID information from key state agencies and patient populations:
7. Sign up for Maine CDC’s Health Alerts (HANs) here.Please sign up UNDER THE ORGANIZATION THAT YOU WORK FOR. The CDC receives a lot of new account requests from folks who work one place, but think they need to sign up under the CDC, DHHS, and MEMA. If you work at a hospital, you will find your facility under “Hospitals” – the same is true for FQHCs.
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