University of Maine officials said they are working to overcome first-day problems with COVID-19 testing on the Orono campus and plan to increase screenings by up to 10 times the current volume this semester.

University officials said the new testing procedures being provided by Shield T3 will allow it to test all students, faculty and staff who are on campus this spring on a weekly basis.

But the effort got off to a slow start in Orono on Monday when there were problems scanning barcodes on some of the sample tubes collected during testing. Some of those who had gone for testing also said there were excessive wait times for their appointments.

The university said it’s working with Shield T3 to address the problems, which also included a weather-related delay in delivery of barcode replacement labels. The order of 20,000 barcodes is expected to arrive on campus Wednesday, system officials said, but testing will be paused one day to allow a transition to the new labels, some new testing equipment and improved processes. Pilot testing of the new protocol will take place Thursday and Friday.

University system officials said the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine will be the first two sites to transition to new testing protocols beginning Monday. Testing at five other campuses and the University of Maine Law School will take place later this month.

University system officials said USM’s testing schedule has focused primarily on residential students this week and officials expect a lower volume of collections from faculty, staff and commuter students at the end of the week. Both UMaine and USM are resuming full testing schedules Monday.


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