A staffing firm with an office in Saco is looking to hire up to 2,000 people to assist in the assembly of diagnostic testing kits, including at the Scarborough facility of Abbott Laboratories, where rapid COVID-19 test kits are being produced, a person who answered the phone at the firm said Thursday.

CoWorx Staffing Services, a national staffing company based in New Jersey that has an office in Saco, initially distributed a news release announcing the need for 1,000 positions Thursday morning, but by the afternoon, a person who answered the phone at CoWorx’s office in Saco said the demand had increased to 2,000 new hires.

“Newly hired employees will be working on the assembly of diagnostic test kits,” the CoWorx news release said. The release did not identify Abbott by name, but said the lab company is based in Scarborough. The statement did not identify what disease or diseases the testing kits would be used to diagnose.

The starting wage was not listed in the job postings, but the positions are considered entry-level and require a high school diploma or GED.

It was not clear whether the demand for 2,000 workers was exclusively at Abbott, or if other firms that do similar diagnostic testing work in southern Maine also are seeking new employees through CoWorx. A CoWorx spokeswoman did not return calls seeking an interview.

Abbott Laboratories announced on March 30 that it won federal regulatory approval for a rapid coronavirus testing machine that has been touted by President Trump and public health officials as a game-changer for the virus response nationwide.


The CoWorx statement came on the same day that Gov. Janet Mills announced that the state would triple its coronavirus testing capacity by partnering with animal diagnostic testing firm Idexx Laboratories of Westbrook, which won approval from federal regulators for a human COVID-19 test kit and is ramping up production so it can provide the state with enough tests so Maine can complete 5,000 tests per week.

A subsidiary of Idexx focusing on human health, Opti Medical Systems of Roswell, Georgia, will produce the test kits for Maine.

The governor said her administration has been working for weeks on the deal with Idexx, but needed to wait until the company’s test kits received FDA approval. That happened Thursday morning.

“Right now, we welcome good news in any form and in any way it comes to us,” Mills said during the state’s daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday. “This is very good news.”

Mills said in the briefing that the state had attempted to secure some of Abbott’s supply of tests, but that the federal government bought most of the supply and distributed the test kits to other states with higher COVID-19 case counts.

The demand for workers illustrates how private companies are working to ramp up testing and sell products to state governments without a coherent national strategy led by the Trump administration or federal public health officials.

The states, in turn, are in charge of their own testing regimes and have been left in some cases to compete against each other to secure supplies from private industry, including for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

CoWorx said those interested in applying for one of the laboratory jobs may apply directly on its website or contact CoWorx at 207-283-0082 for more information. Video interviews will be conducted when possible to limit office traffic and follow social distancing best practices, it said.

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