Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday, Aug. 18, an investigation was opened into a COVID-19 outbreak associated with a wedding reception in Millinocket yesterday.

The event, with about 65 attendees, was held at the Big Moose Inn, where a total of 24 people tested positive for the virus. Of that total, Maine CDC has identified 18 individuals who attended the reception and six others who had close contact with reception attendees.

All of the confirmed cases, Shah said, are Maine residents.

"The investigation was opened 27 hours ago," he said. "We now have to look under every rock and stone, and that is what's underway now."

As part of its investigation, the CDC is communicating with Big Moose Inn about the nature of the event, he said, and adherence to state requirements limiting the number of people attending a large gathering to 50 for an inside event.

"What we know right now is the reception that occurred there Aug. 7 was a connecting point, and there may have been other sources of transmission in addition to the reception at the Big Moose Inn," he said.

"It's a another reminder that COVID-19 exists everywhere in Maine, and can spread very quickly when large groups of people gather for a long duration with high density."

Speaking on agricultural outbreaks across the state, Shah said Hancock Foods now has 13 cases, Merrill Blueberry Farms in Ellsworth also has 13 cases, and Wyman's of Maine in Milbridge has seven cases.

Shah said that based on 1,758 tests administered yesterday, the one-day positivity rate is 0.063%, while the seven-day average is 0.75%. For comparison, the national seven-day average, he said, is 7%.

As of this morning, Shah said, there have been 194 positive tests among people from other states. This out of 5,400 tests administered to out-of-state individuals.

In all, there have been 4,213 cases of the virus statewide, marking an increase of 16 cases since yesterday. Shah said there were no new deaths in Maine, with the total remaining at 127. Currently there are 10 people hospitalized with the disease, five in intensive care units and one on a ventilator.

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