© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Technical Problems Delay Coronavirus Testing At Two University Of Maine System Campuses

Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public
A University of Southern Maine student receives a COVID-19 test inside the Costello Sports Complex.

University of Maine System officials say they're putting COVID-19 testing on pause at two campuses in order to fix technical problems that have led to long wait times. 

The system began using a new test provider, Shield T3, on Monday as it began the weekly testing of all on-campus students and staff this spring.

But with the new provider, scanners were unable to run QR codes on many of the samples, impacting nearly 700 tests. Issues involving testing consent forms also contributed to lengthy wait times.

Chancellor Dannel Malloy says testing at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine at Orono have been put on hold until Monday in order to transition to new equipment that he says should fix the problem. 

"Let's get this done right, so that as we go forward and have this 10-fold increase fully applied, we're in a position to do that in a timely basis," Malloy says.

The system has purchased new barcodes and added procedures to fix the process, according to Malloy.

"We will change the system to have a reading that is 98 percent accurate, as opposed to 76 percent accurate," he says. "It makes sense to take the time and get it right."

The university system has dramatically increased testing for the spring semester, and plans to test all on-campus students and staff on a weekly basis.

Over the past two weeks, the UMaine system has reported a COVID-19 positivity rate of just 0.76 percent.