In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, the University of Maine black bear outside of Memorial Gym is decorated in a blue mask. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine’s public university system has expanded its coronavirus wastewater monitoring program through the end of the spring semester.

The University of Maine System said it’s adding new sample collection sites and increasing sampling and testing frequency. The university system uses the program to track for the presence of the virus on its campuses and in surrounding areas.

The system said samples will be collected twice weekly at campuses around the state. The program will also be used to analyze samples from two municipal wastewater facilities and the University of New England in Biddeford, the system said.

University of Maine System officials said the system began conducting wastewater surveillance in August. Chancellor Dannel Malloy said the expansion of testing “reflects the breadth of our public health commitment and is a key component of our multifaceted approach to identifying and containing COVID-19 on campuses and in Maine communities.”