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Health

UMaine Ramps Up COVID-19 Testing In Advance Of Thanksgiving Break

Maine colleges have tested thousands of students in recent days in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 during the holiday months.

The University of Maine System has tested more than 6,600 asymptomatic students and faculty as part of a plan to screen out-of-state students, those in residence halls and select others as they leave campus for Thanksgiving break and take classes remotely in December. So far, officials say the process has detected 40 positive cases, and 43 students will be quarantining on campus through Thanksgiving break.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy says while those numbers could appear high at first glance, the case rate among students and faculty is far lower than the state as a whole, even as the virus surges in Maine.

“Our success record, at this point, far exceeds our expectations and what we thought we could accomplish. It really is because of the hard work, again, of students, faculty and staff,” he says. “We responded, understanding that we wanted people to be as safe as possible, their families and communities they’re returning to, to be as safe as possible. And as a result of that, we decided to do a final round of testing.”

Many colleges in the state have been relatively successful in limiting the virus so far. Bar Harbor’s College of the Atlantic reported zero cases over the course of its entire fall trimester.

Last week, St. Joseph’s College in Standish announced it was moving to remote instruction after detecting 12 cases in a week.