The University of Maine System’s test-trace-isolate strategy for the spring semester will require weekly COVID testing for all UMS community members with in-person experiences
New partnership with Shield T3 provides processing capacity for approximately 16,000 non-invasive, saliva-based PCR tests per week, reduces result waiting times to 24 hours or less
Orono, Maine — The University of Maine System has entered into a partnership with Shield T3, a provider of COVID testing solutions associated with the University of Illinois System, that will provide capacity for approximately 16,000 high specificity and sensitivity COVID-19 PCR tests per week. The agreement includes delivery of a mobile testing laboratory to the University of Maine in Orono where Shield T3 will process test results on site to eliminate the need to ship collected samples to out-of-state laboratories for processing.
Samples can be collected in less than three minutes and results can be delivered electronically to participants in less than 24 hours. The reported testing specificity, the capacity of a screening test to detect a true negative result, is between 99.8% and 99.9% yielding very few false positives. All positive samples are retested using the originally-collected sample to further reduce the chance of false positives.
“The public health commitment and leadership of our students, faculty, and staff got us through the fall semester together,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “Thanks to additional resources authorized by Governor Mills, we will be able to test and report results promptly every week for every UMS community member who has in-person, on-campus experiences – a testing schedule that we believe is critical to maintaining our academic operations through the current state of the pandemic.”
Governor Janet Mills has been a strong supporter of the University of Maine System testing strategies, providing $6.5 million federal in CARES Act funds for reimbursement of fall testing expenses.
UMS SPRING ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING STRATEGIES
The testing strategy for the spring semester will include the use of Shield T3’s non-invasive, saliva-based test to conduct weekly testing of the anticipated 16,400 members of the university community participating in in-person experiences scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 1. Weekly required testing will occur through commencement on May 8, 2021.
Before Feb. 1 the University of Maine System will be working with existing testing partners to conduct mandatory arrival testing of residential students, community members traveling from outside of Maine, and special populations before Jan. 25 start of spring semester classes. Immediate, required re-testing of the same cohorts will occur before the end of January. The arrival and re-testing will be similar to the strategy used successfully in the fall semester to ensure the return to campuses does not introduce COVID to university communities. Participants will not be charged for any testing costs associated with the UMS spring asymptomatic testing strategies.
Students and employees traveling from outside of Maine will be required to bring documentation of a negative COVID-19 test administered from within 72 hours of arrival to campus. Information on community testing resources is being provided to students and employees and can be found at the end of this release.
SHIELD T3 BACKGROUND
The University of Illinois System has administered more than a million tests and is deploying its Shield T3 testing solutions nationally including at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Bloom Energy. The University of Notre Dame has also used the technology through a non-disclosure agreement. The University of Maine System Scientific Advisory Board has reviewed the standard operating procedures and confirmed the validity of the test based on the high degree of specificity and sensitivity reported by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
The University of Illinois System’s test has been validated and its final application for emergency use authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration was submitted December 30, 2020. The FDA’s independent review of the validation is pending. The test is only provided for use by clinical laboratories or to healthcare workers for point-of-care testing covered by a laboratory’s CLIA certification for high-complexity testing, and not for at home testing including at-home specimen collection.
COMMUNITY TESTING RESOURCES
For members of the in-person population and who will be tested as such, but who are seeking testing prior to February 1, such individuals may contact their healthcare provider for guidance, review the State of Maine’s list of available locations to obtain a test, review the list of testing locations beyond Maine if you will be traveling outside the state, or Independently secure a test from one a private provider of your own choosing.