The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced November 12 the first 10 of up to 65 Walgreens pharmacy locations that will offer free drive-through rapid COVID-19 antigen testing to people in Maine experiencing symptoms of the virus.

Walgreens has opened an initial 10 testing sites across Maine (see list at right), using Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid antigen point-of-care test. All of more than 60 sites are expected to be operational by November 23. Through an agreement with DHHS, testing is available at no cost to people in Maine who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Rapid antigen COVID-19 testing will be available at Walgreens by appointment to adults and children age 3 and older who meet screening criteria to receive a test. Appointments can be made by following the steps on walgreens.com/covid19testing. People receiving the test will self-collect a sample with a nasal swab under the supervision of Walgreens staff and submit the sample through the drive-through window, with results available in as little as an hour.

This testing is available through DHHS’s partnership with Walgreens to distribute approximately 300,000 Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 antigen tests. The BinaxNOW test has been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing symptomatic individuals for COVID-19 within the first seven days of symptoms.

The BinaxNOW test may also be used in limited circumstances to test certain critical infrastructure staff who are identified to be a close contact of an individual confirmed to have COVID-19. Initially, this includes first responders, health care workers, and educational staff.

In total, Maine is receiving 400,000 BinaxNOW tests. To serve high-risk individuals and settings, DHHS is separately allocating 100,000 tests through an application process. Since demand may exceed the available supply, DHHS will prioritize facilities that serve high-risk populations, high-risk settings, and other settings where access to testing is otherwise limited.

While the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test is best used for people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, other types of testing is available in Maine to people who think they need a test, regardless of symptoms and without the need for a referral from a health care provider. This testing is available at more than two dozen “swab and send” testing locations that offer molecular testing at no charge under separate agreements with DHHS. Results from swab-and-send locations are provided by the State Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory within 48 hours of receipt at the lab. For more information, visit the Keep Maine Healthy website.

Maine’s testing capacity is at 357% of Maine’s testing target, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute — among the best in the nation.