Portland City Employee Tested Presumptive Positive For COVID-19
One of the people whose test is a presumptive positive for the new Coronavirus is a city of Portland employee who worked at the India Street Public Health Clinic. As a result, city officials announced Friday that they are closing the clinic for two weeks.
Maine Public’s Robbie Feinberg attended an afternoon press briefing about this development. He spoke with Nora Flaherty about the city's response.
Flaherty: So tell us what we know about this new case.
Feinberg : Officials say the man is a resident of Cumberland County. He's in his 50s and what we know is that he was screened at an outpatient clinic and is now self-quarantined at home.
Portland City Manager Jon Jennings says the city has reached out to other employees and patients of the clinic who had contact with the man. At this point, 23 public health staff and seven volunteers are now self-quarantined. Here's what Jennings said: "Please know that we are taking this pandemic very seriously. And all of our plans are made in line with the best public health practices. And the goal of protecting our staff and the public health and safety."
Flaherty: And what are the plans for the clinic and other facilities the city runs?
Feinberg: That's still a bit up in the air. The city has announced that it's closing the India Street clinic for two weeks and is working with other community groups to make sure that patients will still receive medical care while it's closed. But the plans for other buildings are still up in the air. Portland's City Hall was closed early on Friday at 3 p.m. And Jennings says the plan is for city staff and leaders to all meet and discuss future plans, like whether to close City Hall for a time, and maybe even other buildings, too. So we'll likely learn more very shortly.
Flaherty: Did the city announce anything else today?
Feinberg: It did. So one big question has been around cruise ships, which are obviously big business in the state and in Portland, with the season about to get underway. Jennings says two cruise ships were scheduled to come to the city in April. But at this point, the city says that those ships won't be allowed to come into port, at least for the time being.
The city also talked about how it's trying to limit exposure among residents who are homeless at its shelters. Jennings said that the city has reserved space at both its Family Shelter and Oxford Street Shelter where staff can isolate guests who may test positive for the virus. And that means they should be able to still stay at the shelter and keep getting services, even if they do test positive.
In addition to those changes, city leaders repeated what we've been hearing from state and federal public health officials, which is to limit large group gatherings and practice "social distancing" to ensure you don't come into contact with others.
Flaherty: That's Maine Public Radio Reporter Robbie Feinberg. Thanks, Robbie.
Feinberg: Thanks, Nora.
Updated 5:30 p.m. March 13, 2020