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The University of Maine’s updated COVID-19 policy

The University of Maine has decided to close its asymptomatic testing site for this fall semester. Symptomatic students, staff and faculty may receive self-administered tests at the Lown Room in the Memorial Union. For information regarding days and times to acquire tests, see the official announcement released by UMaine.

Asymptomatic people can get free COVID-19 tests mailed to them online. Tests are also available at local retailers such as Walgreens, Walmart and Rite-Aid while supplies last. If you have private health insurance, you can be reimbursed the price of eight self-administered tests monthly per person.

Symptomatic people are required to wear face masks and get tested for COVID-19. Students are no longer required to wear face masks in classrooms and research areas — at the discretion of faculty members. While roommates of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not required to quarantine, they should continue to monitor their symptoms and take the necessary precautions.

“The current requirements may be revised as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves or as public health best practices change or emerge, and are based on current federal and state laws,” Margaret Nagle said, the interim executive director of communication for UMaine.

UMaine strongly encourages students, staff and faculty to receive boosters as the CDC recommends. In order to be considered fully vaccinated, you have to fulfill UMaine’s guidelines.

“This is defined as completing the primary vaccine series doses in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or completing a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.”

As of Sept. 1, 2022, the CDC has approved new booster shots for those 18 and older that target the omicron sub-variants.

“I think the regulations are okay because we are required to be vaccinated. Most people I know are tired of masks anyway,” said Matthew Virgin, a third-year computer science student.

“The University of Maine and the CDC’s current COVID-19 regulations are insufficient at protecting people, and it is obvious that they’re putting profit over people. Right now, UMaine does not have a place for students to isolate on campus, which is unfair to students who test positive and have nowhere else to go,” expressed Tamra Benson, a fourth-year biology student. Benson contracted COVID-19 in her first week of classes.

“According to CDC guidelines, I should have been okay to end my isolation five days ago, but in that period of time, I have continued to test positive and exhibit mild symptoms, so I have continued my isolation. I believe if I had gone out in public, even masked, according to CDC guidelines, I would have spread the virus to even more people,” Benson said.

According to a recent Bangor Daily News article, the number of hospitalizations from COVID-19 cases has risen over 25% in the last month, most likely due to students moving in and general traveling. As of Sept. 4, 2022, there are 1,549 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Orono.

The UMaine administration acknowledges the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the student body.

“All of our students — undergraduate and graduate students, in-person and online learners — have pursued higher education during a challenging time,” said UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “We understand what students have accomplished to personally and academically be successful, and be with us this academic year. The same is true for our world-class faculty and staff. We’re here to meet everyone where they are and to provide the support needed. We are committed to community health and well-being, and the understanding that at our student-centered university, everyone has individual responsibility in helping to keep us all safe.”

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