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Maine CDC: Waldo County COVID-19 Outbreak Grows To 42 Cases

Bill Trotter
Bangor Daily News
Brooks Pentacostal Church in Waldo County.

An outbreak of COVID-19 associated with a Waldo County church has grown to 42 cases and spread to a nursing home and several schools.

Public health officials expect cases will continue to increase significantly. Those who have already tested positive range in age from 2 to 80.

According to the Maine CDC, the outbreak appears to have started with a fellowship gathering at the Brooks Pentecostal Church Oct. 2-4. People from other churches in Charleston and Unity attended the event, which drew a crowd of about 100-150 people, exceeding the state’s limit on indoor gatherings.

The director of the Maine CDC, Dr. Nirav Shah, says that masks were available, but generally not worn. And the same was true for subsequent services at the Brooks Pentecostal Church.

“A typical service convened by the Brooks Church included anywhere from 70 to 100 individuals indoors. The church indicated to us, similarly, that masks were available, but not routinely used,” he says.

The church has temporarily suspended services. At its affiliated school, Lighthouse Christian Academy, which has 27 students, seven people have tested positive. Cases linked to the outbreak have also been identified at three elementary schools and one middle school in Waldo county — Ames Elementary School in Searsmont, Capt. Albert Stevens School in Belfast, Mt. View Elementary School in Thorndike and Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast.

An employee at Bayview Manor assisted living in Searsport has also tested positive.

Shah called the outbreak a “rapidly evolving situation,” and said the CDC is working with local hospitals and health care providers to ensure testing is readily available.

The surge in cases in Waldo County comes at a time when Maine has one of the lowest positive case rates in the country. Gov. Janet Mills is urging Mainers not to be lulled into a false sense of security.

“Each of us must take responsibility for the trajectory of the virus in Maine. Every social interaction is a risk. Because the virus is everywhere. It’s in every county, every community, and it affects every age group,” she says.

Citing rising case numbers in surrounding states, Mills warned that pandemic fatigue will have failed consequences.

Updates on the outbreak come as the Maine CDC reports 27 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The number of deaths remains unchanged, at 146.

Active cases across the state total 637.