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Employees At MEMA Facility Test Negative For COVID-19

Nick Woodward
/
Maine Public

All seven workers at the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) who had exhibited COVID-19 symptoms Thursday have tested negative for the disease.

Officials from MEMA say they are investigating a possible cause for the flu-like symptoms that simultaneously prompted all seven workers to call out sick Thursday morning.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah says his agency is investigating whether climate control systems at MEMA contributed to the workers' sickness.

Shah says the agency's HVAC system was turned on Wednesday, the same day the seven workers began experiencing aches and pains.

"A low-level allergic reaction in some individuals can manifest like the early signs of an infection — muscle aches, etcetera.," he said.

A press release from the agency says the workers are feeling better Friday.

The seven employees — three from MEMA, two from the Maine Center for Disease Control and two National Guard members — all work in the State Emergency Operations Center, which has played a key role in the state response to the covid-19 outbreak. Their illness prompted officials to temporarily close the operations center, forcing the response team to work exclusively from home.

Updated 3:59 p.m. May 29, 2020

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.