Starting Monday, Massachusetts is no longer exempt from Maine’s testing and quarantine requirements.
The Mills administration announced the change Friday, citing positivity and case rates of COVID-19 in Massachusetts that exceed Maine’s rates. Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday was also a factor.
“Like most people in Maine, Gov. Mills is extremely concerned about the spread of the virus as we head into the holiday season when we customarily gather with friends and family, often from different places,” she says.
New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states that remain exempt from Maine’s requirement to quarantine for 14 days or receive a negative test result from a sample taken within 72 hours of arrival.
The announcement comes as Maine CDC reports three deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday, as well as 243 cases.
The previous one-day high for daily cases was 204, on Nov. 9.
In all, 8,639 Mainers have been diagnosed with the disease. Of those, 6,428 have recovered, leaving 2,049 active cases.
In November alone, 15 people in Maine with COVID-19 have died — that’s more than one person a day. The state has also recorded 1,924 cases just in November. The positivity rate and number of hospitalizations have also surged this month.
State CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah says Maine can turn the trend around, but it’s up to the choices people make when they leave their homes — or invite others inside.
“Keep in mind now the 160-plus families that have to arrange for funerals for their loved ones. Keep in mind the hundreds of people who have been hospitalized with COVID-19,” he says.
The Maine CDC has opened five additional outbreak investigations. They involve Faith Bible College in Charleston, Husson University, Lawrence Junior High in Fairfield, Portland High, and the Skowhegan-Madison Elks Lodge.
The number of cases in a COVID-19 outbreak at the Russell Park Rehabilitation Center in Lewiston has swelled to 129. The cases are about evenly split between staff and residents, but three residents have died and another three are in the hospital.
Shah says the number of outbreaks in the state is concerning, and he’s seeing a circular problem between social gatherings and community spread.
“That’s building upon itself, making each social gathering even riskier, and generating cases of individuals who then go back out into the community and spread COVID-19 in their communities,” he says.
Shah says one of the best ways to break the cycle is to wear face coverings.