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Maine Lawmakers Approve Purchase Of Machine That Can Test For Coronavirus

The Maine Legislature’s Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved funding for the immediate purchase of a machine at the state laboratory that can test for the coronavirus.

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Deputy Commissioner Ben Mann says the new device will replace a 13-year-old unit that can’t test for the coronavirus.

“It’s a higher level, it performs tests quicker, and it can perform not only coronavirus extraction testing, but influenza A and B and a couple of others,” Mann says.

Lawmakers approved a financial order to allocate $58,000 in unspent federal funds to buy the new testing device, which DHHS officials say can be operational in a matter of days.

Earlier this month, the state sent a sample from a potential coronavirus patent to the federal CDC in Atlanta, which came back negative.

“We had to because we did not have the equipment or the test kits or the procedures from federal CDC to actually perform that,” says Mann. “We took a sample, sent it into Atlanta, and it took about two and one-half days, and it came back negative.”

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.