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Latest Federal Relief Bill Could Ramp Up Testing Capacity In Maine

Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah says a new federal relief bill that has cleared the U.S. Senate could allow Maine to ramp up testing capacity for the novel coronavirus.

Speaking during Wednesday's daily briefing, Shah said the $25 billion earmarked for states to increase testing is a key component in reopening the economy.

Should the Senate bill become law, Shah says the Maine CDC would hire more lab staff and purchase additional testing equipment and supplies known as reagents.

"Our goal is to make it such that each and every health care provider in Maine can offer a test to any of his or her patients without fear that the test might get rejected by a commercial laboratory, or any laboratory, because of resource constraints," Shah says.

Reagents have been in short supply nationwide, which has kept Maine and other states from increasing testing capacity. Still, he says, Maine's rate of testing is in the top quartile of the country.

The Senate bill also requires state health agencies like the Maine CDC to outline their testing plans for the federal government. The bill still requires votes in the U.S. House and approval by President Donald Trump before becoming law.