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New Project Aims To Alert Mainers Who May Have Been Exposed To COVID-19 By Out-Of-State Visitors

Rick Bowmer
AP Images
In this file photo, a Salt Lake County Health Department public health nurse performs a COVID-19 test in Salt Lake City as part of a contact tracing effort.

The Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC)announced Tuesday that it is launching a pilot project with Mount Desert Island Hospital to alert people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 by out-of-state travelers.

The agency says that over the past week and a half, the hospital has received calls from five visitors who tested for the coronavirus in their home states but then found out they're positive after they traveled to Maine. State CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah says the state is adjusting its electronic contact tracing tool called Sara Alert. MDI Hospital can now use the tool to include the close contacts of out-of-state visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19.

"And those individuals will then get a text message, a phone call or an email to check in on them to see how they're doing. If they've got symptoms, then they can be arranged for testing."

The task of contact tracing falls to a person's home state. But the president of MDI Hospital raised concerns recently that those investigations for out of state visitors have not been thorough.

Dr. Shah says visitors who come to Maine without a negative test result in hand must quarantine. Shah says "that doesn't mean limiting contact when you go out to eat. It means not going out to eat."