The Maine Department of Health and Human Services recently announced expanded options for free routine COVID-19 rapid testing at Walgreens and other locations throughout the state to support people potentially exposed on the job and others who would benefit from testing.

DHHS has issued updated guidance for the Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests distributed by the state that encourages individuals who work in health care, hospitality, retail and other public-facing industries to get tested for COVID-19 up to twice weekly, even without symptoms. Previously, rapid testing was recommended only for people experiencing symptoms, close contacts of confirmed cases and certain critical infrastructure staff through employer-based surveillance testing. With this change, Maine DHHS encourages anyone who works in a setting with elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission to get tested routinely, particularly those who are unvaccinated. The test also can be used by people with symptoms of COVID-19.

While 64% of Maine residents age 20 and older are fully vaccinated, nearly 400,000 remain at risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Through an agreement with DHHS, Walgreens locations provide free rapid antigen testing by appointment to those age 3 and older at 61 locations across Maine. Walgreens patrons 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.

Testing identifies people infected by the virus early, often before symptoms appear, allowing them to isolate to limit the number of additional people infected. Getting a test when somone has a fever, headache, chills, fatigue or difficulty breathing allows them to determine if they have allergies,

a common cold or the highly contagious and serious virus.

Visit maine.gov/covid19/keepmainehealthy/testing for a list of Walgreens locations providing rapid COVID-19 testing. Maine also has more than two dozen “swab and send” testing locations that offer molecular testing at no charge.

Information about COVID-19 testing options in Maine is also available by calling 211.