Bangor area medical supplier stops COVID-19 testing for travelers

A major medical provider in the Bangor area will limit rapid COVID-19 testing to its employees and other essential workers so that it can preserve testing capacity. Demand for testing has increased in recent weeks amid an increase in cases due to the contagious delta variant.

Penobscot Community Health Care will stop rapid testing for travelers who need proof of a negative test, the organization said Thursday, citing low numbers of test supplies for rapid tests and PCR. PCHC has medical offices throughout the Bangor area.

Travelers needing rapid tests will be referred elsewhere, the organization said.

“The incredibly transmissible variant of COVID even causes breakthrough infections in people who have been vaccinated and threatens those who cannot be vaccinated, including children under 12 and those who are medically fragile,” said Dr. Noah Nesin, PCHC chief medical officer. “So we need to make testing a priority for those who have to work in hospitals, schools and other vital areas.”

Symptomatic patients will still be tested and the results will be sent to an outside lab for analysis, resulting in delays of a few days, the PCHC said.

PCHC joins other healthcare organizations that have stopped administering COVID-19 tests for travel purposes. Last month, two hospitals in Aroostook County, on the Canadian border, said they had halted travel testing due to demand for testing from those who had fallen ill.

Lia Russell is a reporter for the Bangor Daily News municipal office. Send your advice to [email protected] More by Lia Russell