A tourist from South Korea wears protective mask Monday while waiting for a flight back to South Korea at the Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel. Credit: Ariel Schalit | AP

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved funding for the immediate purchase of a machine at the state laboratory that can test for the coronavirus.

Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Commissioner Ben Mann said the new device will replace a 13-year-old unit that can’t test for the coronavirus.

“It’s a higher level, it performs tests quicker, and it can perform not only coronavirus extraction testing, but influenza A and B and a couple of others,” Mann said.

Lawmakers approved a financial order to allocate $58,000 in unspent federal funds to buy the device, which DHHS officials said can be operational in a matter of days.

Earlier this month, the state sent a sample from a potential coronavirus patent to the federal CDC in Atlanta, which came back negative.

“We had to because we did not have the equipment or the test kits or the procedures from federal CDC to actually perform that,” Mann said. “We took a sample, sent it into Atlanta and it took about two and one-half days, and it came back negative.”

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.