AUBURN — A free COVID-19 testing center is scheduled to open Monday at the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston’s Outdoor Learning & Education Center at 151 Stetson Road in Auburn.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, said the new rapid antigen testing site will not require appointments, but they are recommended.

It plans to be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday each week at the YMCA.

The testing center is part of a broader state push to increase testing that also includes new sites in Biddeford and Windham.

The move comes at a time when there is a growing sense the pandemic is easing slightly, with the number of cases requiring hospitalization or critical care declining a bit during the past two weeks.

Shah said during his weekly briefing Wednesday that “there are signs of hope” in the downtick in numbers across the board, a trend he hopes will continue.

Advertisement

Perhaps the most dramatic indicator of progress is that the number of Mainers on a ventilator due to COVID-19 dropped from 57 two weeks ago to 38 on Wednesday, a 33% decline.

“We hope that these numbers continue,” Shah said.

Though testing volume remains robust, Shah said, there are still many complaints online and elsewhere that people who want to get tested are having a hard time finding a way to do it.

The new Auburn site at the YMCA’s Outdoor Learning & Education Center should help relieve the pressure for finding tests, is the work of “a broad number of community partners,” Shah said, a collaboration among New Mainers Public Health Initiative, AK Health and Social Services, Multicultural Community and Family Support Services, Maine Community Integration, Gateway Community Services Maine and Maine Immigrant Refugee Services.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release Wednesday that Curative, which already operates several testing sites in Maine, will begin managing the Auburn site in mid-February and expects to add PCR testing there. PCR tests are considered the gold standard and typically take a day for results.

It also said the state is “preparing to announce this week a plan to distribute tests directly to Maine people” but did not provide further information.

More information on COVID-19 testing sites and general guidance on at-home testing options is available at maine.gov/covid19/testing.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.