Four staffers at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the Friday, Nov. 6, media briefing, Shah said the outbreak at the hospital should not dissuade people from seeking care at the facility. “If you are in the area …” he said, “do not fear that.”

When asked if the outbreak was related to the Brooks Pentecostal Church, after it was discovered that the pastor of the church worked in the security office at the hospital, Shah said, “we don’t have a clear answer” right now.

The CDC is researching the possible interaction between the pastor and the other three people, he said. It could be a case of four separate incidents coming together at the hospital.

Waldo County saw an increase of three cases since yesterday, for a total of 36 active cases. Currently there are 13 people hospitalized in the county, 15 deaths have been recorded and 118 recoveries.

Overall, the state broke another daily record with a single-day total of 184 cases recorded since yesterday. Currently there are 37 people hospitalized statewide, 14 people in intensive care units and three on ventilators. In all, 150 people have died, which represents no change in the overall death count.

New outbreaks include Walpole Woodworkers in Pittsfield, where four staffers tested positive for the virus; Sunrise Opportunities in Machias, a facility for adults with intellectual disabilities and autism, which reported four residents and one staff member with the disease; and Russell Park Rehabilitation Center in Lewiston, where it was reported four residents and two staff had tested positive for COVID-19.

After the briefing, the CDC issued an update saying that there are now at total of 64 cases at Russell Park, including 44 residents and 20 staffers. The update continued, "Testing is ongoing, so additional cases could be identified during the weekend. Maine CDC's outbreak response team is working closely with Russell Park staff to arrange further testing, provide adequate personal protective equipment, and to ensure that appropriate infection protocols are in place."

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services talked about Gov. Janet Mills’ updated mandates limiting indoor gatherings to 50 people again and the new public face covering directive.

Addressing persistent non-compliance, Lambrew said the state has the option to suspend operating licenses, summon businesses with a $1,000 fine or even impose prison time. “We are taking additional steps to try to do our best, short of enforcing these measures,” she said.

Shah added, if you encounter someone when you are out — wear a mask. “Widespread masking has a significant impact on new cases,” he said. “By wearing a face covering, we will all be that much safer.

“Do the right thing,” Shah said. “There’s a lot riding on this.”

filed under: