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'It's Not Brewing. It Is Here' — 80 COVID-19 Cases Reported In Maine

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Voters hold boxes of pizza distributed free by a local pizza company while waiting in line in the rain to cast their absentee ballots, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Portland, Maine.

The Maine CDC is reporting a record number of 80 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — none of which are currently linked to outbreaks.

CDC Director Nirav Shah says that’s concerning because it shows widespread, forceful transmission of the virus. And he says what’s been seen on the horizon in other states is now here.

“It’s not coming. It’s not on its way. And it’s not brewing. It is here. And unfortunately, based on the epidemiological data, the trajectory we are sadly on will continue,” he says.

New cases were recorded in nearly every county. Shah says he’s particularly concerned about Somerset County, which logged 26 new cases over the past two days.

“What’s important and concerning in Somerset County is there is no new outbreak investigation at any facility in that county. Let alone one that accounts for the increase of 26 cases in two days,” he says.

Much of the rise continues to be driven by small indoor gatherings. Shah is urging Mainers to wear masks, distance, and limit the duration of indoor visits.

The state CDC does say it’s investigating several outbreaks. Ten cases have been linked to Pat’s Pizza in Portland. Most of the cases are among customers, and Shah says the highest transmission occurred on two evenings.

“If you were at the Pat’s Pizza in the Old Port on either on Oct. 16 or Oct. 22, please consider getting tested,” he says.

The CDC has also opened an outbreak investigation at the Durgin Pines nursing home in York, where one resident and two staff have tested positive.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services has announced its plan to distribute a federal allocation of 400,000 rapid antigen tests for COVID-19. Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says the department is partnering with Walgreens to offer the Abbott BinaxNOW tests at 65 pharmacies, from Kittery to Madawaska.

“This testing will be available to the public at no charge at drive through sites starting in November,” she says.

The tests can produce results in 15 minutes. Lambrew says 100,000 of the rapid tests are being reserved for people who are at elevated risk of COVID-19, such as health care workers, law enforcement and school staff. Those will be distributed to qualified organizations through an application process.