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NMMC announces immediate suspension of COVID-19 testing for travelers

FORT KENT, Maine — Northern Maine Medical Center announced on Thursday that due to an increase in demand for COVID-19 testing, the hospital’s swab clinic will suspend such testing for people needing it for travel purposes.

The hospital will continue to test symptomatic patients or those who have been identified as close contacts of people through contact tracing.

“We are currently averaging between 70 and 80 people daily for testing,” Northern Maine Medical Center spokesperson Monica Jerkins said.

Since September, the clinic has been scheduling a limited number of travel tests, up to 25 per day, but those slots are needed for those with symptoms or who have been identified as close contacts.

The rise in test requests coincides with an increase in COVID 19 cases within the local school district.

As of Nov. 18, Valley Unified administrators estimated 24 Fort Kent Elementary School students to be COVID-positive as well as 10 Valley Rivers Middle School/Fort Kent Community High School students.

Also as of Nov. 18, hospital swab testing identified 57 COVID-positive people so far for the month, with 11 of those ages 10 and under. During the months from April through August combined, the hospital only obtained 1 COVID-positive test result from a child age 10 or under.

The NMMC results are only a small piece of the puzzle, Jerkins said, because many other avenues for COVID testing exist within the community, such as at local pharmacies.

The new NMMC testing policy will be effective immediately and until further notice, but the hospital will honor all pre-scheduled COVID tests for travel.

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