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Maine Reports COVID-19 Outbreak At Wyman Facility in Milbridge, And New Pilot Tracking Project

Nick Woodward
Maine Public
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah speaks about the coronavirus outbreak at news conference at the State House, March 20, 2020.

The Maine Center for Disease Control is reporting an increase in Maine's coronavirus tally of five cases, and a reduction of one in the number of deaths.  Meanwhile, the state is following a new outbreak and partnering with a Maine hospital to expand tracking capacity.According to new figures posted on the CDC's website, the total number of cases diagnosed among Mainers since the pandemic's onset now stands at 3,975, five more than Monday. Meanwhile, the agency reports that the state's death tally dropped from 124 to 123.

In an email, state CDC spokesperson Robert Long said that a standard investigation showed “the death of a Cumberland County resident which was originally classified as related to COVID-19 does not meet the criteria to be a COVID-related death.” This is the reason that both the number of deaths and cumulative total number of hospitalizations decreased in Tuesday's report.

"This is part of the investigation process that, as I mentioned, we do with every single case" of COVID-19, said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shaw at a press briefing Tuesday. Shah said the data updates show "how dynamic outbreak situations are."

Addressing concerns about out-of-state visitors bringing COVID-19 into Maine, Shah said he and other state officials met with Mount Desert Island Hospital President Arthur Blank Tuesday about how to deal with visitors who discover they are positive for the virus after they arrive in Maine.

MDI officials said Monday that in recent days they've received calls from five visitors who have found themselves in that situation. Shah said the hospital isolated the individuals and agreed to track their cases until they're resolved.

To do that, Shah said the MDI has agreed to participate in a pilot project under with the hospital will begin using the Maine CDC's contact tracing system. "We look forward to seeing how this system works," Shah said.

Meanwhile, Shah said the CDC is looking into a new outbreak of the virus at Wyman's blueberry facility in the Washington County town of Milbridge, where a round of tests on 170 workers found four positive cases. He said three of the four cases are reflected in Tuesday's case totals.

Shah said the state continues to follow several other outbreaks, one at Central Maine Medical Center and the other at the Marshwood Center in Lewiston, where Shah said the total number of cases has grown from 21 to 23. The CDC is also following two cases involving agricultural establishments - Hancock Foods, with 10 cases and Merrill Farms, with 9. Both facilities are in Hancock County.

Shah said 160 vaccines for COVID-19 are in development, and two that have promise are already undergoing human trials. "Ideall , some of these candidate vaccines will succeed in generating an immune response and general 'herd immunity' among the population," Shah said, allowing us to return to "some semblance of the pre-COVID-19 world."

Maine, Shah said, is currently developing a plan to offer vaccinations across the state "quickly, safely and efficiently," so the state will be ready when a vaccine becomes available.

He urged all Maine residents to get up-to-date on required and recommended vaccines as soon as possible, acknowleding that the "topic of vaccines stirs people's passions and emotions." Reliable information on vaccines is available on the U.S. and Maine CDC websites and through the World Health Organization, he said.

In Maine, a total of 388 people have had to be hospitalized at some point during their bout with COVID-19.  Twelve people are currently hospitalized, 1 of them in the ICU. One person is on a ventilator.

A total of 3,424 Mainers have recovered from the virus, leaving the number of active cases the state is tracking at 428, 22 fewer than Monday.

Updated at 3:06 p.m. Tuesday, August 4, 2020.