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Maine received the expected 15 rapid coronavirus testing machines, but it received a “much smaller” number of test kits to assess patients, a top health official said on Wednesday.
“And so the fact that we got much, much less than we initially thought and were told we would be getting. We’re going back to the drawing board today to get a better sense of what the best strategy for those machines will be,” Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control, said during his daily briefing.
Shah announced last week that Maine would get enough of the machines and kits to test 2,400 people as part of a state strategy to preserve protective equipment for frontline health care workers.
The Abbott Laboratories test, which can return positive coronavirus test results within 5 minutes and negative results within 13 minutes, was heralded nationally. The Scarborough location of the Illinois-based company had planned to produce 50,000 test kits to run on the machines per week.
A Kaiser Health News story referencing a memo circulated this week at the U.S. Department of Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that state and local health officials were set to receive only 5,500 coronavirus tests.
Abbott spokeswoman Kimberly LaFleur said the 5,500 number is not accurate. She said the company has shipped 190,000 test kits to customers in 21 states, though she did not reveal the number of instruments or test kits shipped to Maine.
“We’ve been in close coordination with U.S. federal and state authorities — as well as our customers in urgent care clinics, hospital emergency departments, and physicians’ offices — to ensure ID NOW instruments and tests are sent to outbreak hotspots,” LaFleur said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the Maine CDC received fewer than expected testing machines. It received all the machines, but much fewer of the test kits to assess patients.