A man rides a moped past a hotel sign in downtown Bar Harbor on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine will expand the use of rapid testing to allow workers in high-risk industries to get tested for COVID-19 as often as twice a week, the state announced on Wednesday.

The testing will be offered at 61 Walgreens locations across the state and is free for people 3 and older. The program uses Abbott BinaxNOW tests purchased by the state that return results in as little as an hour. Rapid testing was previously only recommended for people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and close contacts of people who had tested positive for the virus, as well as at certain employers participating in state surveillance programs.

The program is largely aimed at people who are not fully vaccinated and work in health care, hospitality or other public-facing jobs, Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Wednesday. She said people were encouraged to get tested as often as twice per week, even if they have no symptoms.

“Testing remains critical to keeping our businesses open and our communities healthy as we get about our summer,” Lambrew said.

The state is still encouraging eligible people aged 12 and older to get vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of the virus, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah noted.

“If you have been fully vaccinated, large parts of your pre-COVID life can resume,” Shah said.