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Maine CDC: 2 Deaths, 151 More Cases Of COVID-19 On Wednesday

Kevin Bennett
For Maine Public
An elderly voter braves snow, cold temperatures and maskless voters as he waits in line to vote at the Joseph L. Ferris Community Center in Brewer on Tuesday."

For the second day in a row, Maine has set a record high for new daily cases of COVID-19. The Maine CDC is reporting 151 new cases.

The largest increases are in Cumberland, York, Somerset, and Kennebec counties.

Two more people with the disease have died, bringing the total number of deaths to 150. They were a woman in her 80s from Franklin County and a man in his 70s from Waldo County.

The director of the state CDC, Dr. Nirav Shah, says the man's death is indirectly linked to the 60-case outbreak at the Brooks Pentecostal Church.

The positivity rate has nearly tripled from where it was two weeks ago, to 1.3 percent. And hospitalizations have gone from seven a couple of weeks ago to 36.

Shah says there are concrete steps everyone can take to mitigate the spread. That includes getting tested about a week after coming in to close contact with somebody who has COVID-19, to allow time for the virus to be detected. And, Shah says, staying in quarantine — both while waiting for results and after receiving them.

“If you were exposed to somebody who you now know has COVID-19, even if that test is negative, you still need to be in quarantine. I know that’s hard. I recognize how tough that is. But a negative test for most people does not absolve them of the need to be in quarantine,” he says.

Shah says people should also reconsider participating in small gatherings, which don’t carry the same stigma as large gatherings but can be just as risky.

The CDC has also opened investigations into several more outbreaks.

Shah says that in Augusta, three cases each have been identified at Advanced Health Physical Therapy and CrossFit Casco Bay Undaunted. And at the Hope Baptist Church in Manchester, there are five cases.

“All three of the outbreak investigations just opened today are in Kennebec County. A concerning sign that infection rates as well as new outbreaks in that part of the state are on the rise,” he says.

On Tuesday, the CDC opened an outbreak investigation at Calais Regional Hospital, where six staff members have tested positive.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services has closed the Center for Disease Control building on Water Street in Augusta to the public, after an employee there tested positive.

According to a news release, DHHS was notified abut the positive case Tuesday afternoon and alerted other employees. The Department says most CDC staff have been working remotely, but it also closed four floors of the building to employees.

DHHS says all of its offices have used appropriate physical distancing, face covering and sanitation policies and the building will reopen as soon as possible.

The closure doesn’t affect testing or distribution of personal protective equipment, and epidemiological investigations of COVID-19 cases are ongoing.