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Maine CDC Reports Outbreak At Pratt & Whitney Plant In North Berwick, As Cases Rise Again

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
In this Wednesday, June 10, 2020, photo, a sign in Gilead, Maine, near the border with New Hampshire, warns visitors entering Maine that they are required to quarantine for 14 days. Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are exempt.

The Maine Center for Disease Control is reporting that the number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Maine since the pandemic's onset has risen to 3,460, an increase of 20 since Tuesday. No new deaths were reported, but Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah says the CDC is tracking a new workplace outbreak.At a briefing Wednesday, Shah said six people at the Pratt & Whitney plant in North Berwick, four of whom work closely together, have tested postitive for COVID-19. Shah said the CDC is working with the facility, and tracking the cases to determine how the infections arose.

Meanwhile, Shah said, after extensive testing and improved safety measures, the CDC has closed its investigation into an outbreak at Cape Memory Care in Cape Elizabeth, where 85 people were infected.

Of the 20 new cases reported Wednesday, the largest number - 11 - occurred among Cumberland County residents. The other nine cases were scattered around the remainder of Maine's 16 counties.

A total of 363 Mainers have had to be hospitalized at some point during their illness, an increase of three since Tuesday. Twenty-two people are currently hospitalized, eight of them in intensive care, Shah said. Four are on ventilators.

Shah said Maine's overall positivity rate continues to decline. The rate for yesterday's one-day snapshot was .79%, he said. The seven-day weighted moving average is now 1.28%, and the cumulative rate since the pandemic's onset is 3.58%.

That's an improvement, Shah said. But noting Wednesday's grim milestone of 3 million cases nationwide, and citing surges of the virus in other states, Shah warned, "That positivity rate could go back up just as quickly as it has gone done."

In response to a reporter's question about President Trump's push to get kids back to school in person, Shah said in-person classes have "psycho-social" benefits for kids. But he said any return to the classroom would have to be done safely and Maine continues to monitor the situation.

He said Maine is not yet ready to allow Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents to visit the state with no restrictions, something Maine has limited to New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and New Jersey.  That could change, he said, depending on coronavirus trends.

Shah said a total of 2,856 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19, an increase of 40 since Monday. That leaves 494 active cases in Maine, 20 fewer than Tuesday.

Updated at 2:57 p.m. ET,  July 8, 2020.

Barbara grew up in Biddeford, Maine. She earned a master’s in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s in English from the University of Southern Maine.