Maine will make 250,000 rapid at-home BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests available at Walgreens pharmacies and frontline workplaces as the state battles sustained numbers of high cases.
The state becomes the latest to distribute free tests to better detect the virus’ spread. The tests will be administered at Walgreens locations across the state as well as at health care sites, schools and congregate care settings. The purchase represents nearly a quarter of all rapid tests the state has purchased since the pandemic began, according to the state. The additional tests will start being available on a rolling basis starting next week.
“While this is a step in the right direction, we will continue to work to make testing more easily and readily available across Maine to detect the virus early and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said in a statement.
Other New England states have adopted efforts to make tests more available. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced plans Thursday to send 500,000 tests directly to residents. New Hampshire rolled out a similar program in December.
Gov. Janet Mills said Friday that the state had been negotiating to get the additional tests for a while. The tests at Walgreens will be antigen tests administered at drive-thrus and results are available usually within an hour.
Maine plans to open up drive-thru COVID-19 testing at its Augusta Armory vaccination site next week.