BANGOR – Northern Light Health has implemented new COVID-19 testing restrictions, as the number of positive cases in Maine rose from 52 to 56 on Friday.
Northern Light announced it will prioritize testing for high-risk individuals due to a national shortage of laboratory materials. The low supply of materials has limited the ability to perform COVID-19 testing across Maine.
“From an epidemiological standpoint we need to know how many people are infected so we can predict where we are going unfortunately we just don’t have that opportunity now,” Jarvis said.
Dr. James Jarvis of Northern Light Health said that as of Friday testing will be limited to high-risk individuals, healthcare workers, first responders and individuals who are in close-quarters such as group homes, long-term care facilities and similar spaces.
“This decision was not made lightly and it was made with the coordination of information from the Maine CDC and around our healthcare partners around the state. This will certainly make some people at unease because they’d like to get tested, but this is what we have to do to protect our community and stay safe,” Jarvis added.
Jarvis added patients who are showing no symptoms, regardless of their exposure or risk factor, are not candidates to be tested. In addition, individuals who have mild symptoms will not be tested and should assume they have COVID-19 and self-isolate to prevent the spread.
Patients that have shortness of breath and are not able to manage their medical conditions should reach out to healthcare providers immediately.
In-state health officials don’t expect federal aid to come anytime soon due to limited supplies (face masks, gowns, gloves, etc.) around the country, but Jarvis did say several local business’ have given offered aid.
“We have had business that use those same kind of equipment in there industry but no longer are doing that because they shut have shut themselves down and have actually called out to us to say hey do you need this from us because we have extra supply,” Jarvis said.
“That’s what Mainers do we stand behind each other we get together when we need to and we do the things we have to do to keep ourselves well,” he added.
Northern Light is asking individuals to call with questions and concerns before showing up in-person. Patients can call (844) 489-1822 with any questions about COVID-19.