The Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently launched a new text messaging service for those who test positive for COVID-19, offering steps to take to protect their health and limit the spread of the virus.

People who test positive for COVID-19 and who have voluntarily provided their telephone number at their testing site will receive a text message from Maine CDC indicating that they should isolate for 10 days at home and inform close contacts of potential exposure to the virus. Recipients will also be directed to further information on the Maine CDC website. The message from Maine CDC will come from the number 22300.

Maine CDC will continue to call people at greater risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, such as older Mainers, health care workers and people in congregate settings, and investigate their cases and notify their close contacts. All other people who test positive will receive the text message and a call from the DHHS Call Center.

The extra outreach comes as Maine CDC continues to process a significant backlog of test results. Maine CDC is receiving a high volume of positive test results from labs, leading to delays in the next step in the process of assigning positive results to case investigators.

In recent days, the reported case count has increased significantly, as 3,500 positive test results since December 10 are reviewed to determine if they are new cases. Not all positive tests become a new case, as some are from people who test positive more than once and others are out-of-state residents whose results are reported to their state of residence.

Maine CDC is expanding its COVID-19 data dashboard to better reflect these changes. Newly added will be visualizations of the molecular test positivity rate and more granular, daily data on the number of test results received, including daily positive tests. Combined with the existing data on new cases assigned for investigation, the expanded testing data more precisely captures the spread of COVID-19 in Maine.

Considered collectively, Maine’s metrics remain concerning but suggest that COVID-19 spread is beginning to ease in the state, according to the CDC.