Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday, Jan. 28, an outbreak has been reported at Crossroads to Calvary Apostolic Church on Route 3 in Morrill.

The Maine CDC is currently aware of 23 people associated with the church who have tested positive for the virus, and has started an investigation into the outbreak. Shah said it is too early to tell if the church had been following safety guidelines.

In a Jan. 23 Facebook post, church officials announced the closing of in-person services because “a number of people tested positive for COVID-19.”

“In a diligent effort to mitigate any potential, or further spread of the virus, and after extensive conversation with both local authorities and CDC officials, our recommendation is that if you have been in service within the last two weeks (from Jan. 10), that you be tested, begin a quarantine period if you have not already…,” the post read.

Shah said his agency is working closely with the church to make sure it has all the testing, PPE and infection control needed to reduce subsequent cases of COVID-19.

A call to Crossroads to Calvary Church the afternoon of Jan. 28 was not answered.

Shah also said five additional deaths had been reported since yesterday, including three people from Cumberland County, one from Franklin County and one from Kennebec County. There were four women and one man who died; two were in their 60s; one was in their 70s; and two were in their 80s. In all, 567 people have died in Maine because of the disease.

Since yesterday, 284 new cases were reported. Currently there are 171 people hospitalized, with 51 in intensive care units and 31 on ventilators.

Speaking about vaccines, Shah said as of today 128,704 Maine people had been vaccinated; 97,033 have received first doses and 30,671 have received the second.

Next week's state allotment represents a 16% increase in doses, Shah said. Maine will receive 20,375 doses, which includes 8,775 of the Pfizer vaccine and 11,600 of the Moderna vaccine. According to the federal CDC, the allotment will remain at the same level for the next three weeks, he said.

"This degree of stability is extremely useful," Shah said, with respect to planning. "Although we are thankful for the stability and increase in production," he said. "We are still only receiving less than half the doses needed to vaccinate people over the age of 70.

"We look forward to subsequent increases," Shah said.

Moderna, which was investigating the safety and efficacy of the 4,400 doses previously received out of temperature range, has determined the doses are not compromised. Shah said his agency is working to get the shots into arms as soon as possible.

Gov. Janet Mills said starting Monday, Feb. 1, Maine will roll back the 9 p.m. early closing time for businesses that serve liquor and food.

"Maine is beginning to round the corner post-holiday surge," she said. All other safety protocols are still in place, according to Mills.

Everyone still needs to take basic public health precautions, even if vaccinated, she said. Wear a face covering, keep social distance and avoid large gatherings.

Shah said that while the case numbers and positivity rate have come down in recent days, hospital rates are still elevated.

"…I am still concerned about what's happening across the globe," he said, referring to the variant strains of the virus.

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