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20 outbreak investigations started in 24 hours; 224 new COVID cases

By Fran Gonzalez | Nov 20, 2020

Augusta — Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday, Nov. 20, there are 224 new COVID-19 cases in the state since yesterday. There are also two additional deaths, he said. One was a man in his 80s from Androscoggin County; the other a woman in her 70s from Somerset County.

The deaths he said, are the 172nd and 173rd from the coronavirus in the state since the beginning of the pandemic.

Waldo County had two new cases of the virus, bringing total number of cases to 202. Currently there are 35 active cases, 151 people have recovered and 16 have died.

Across the state, Shah said, 90 people are hospitalized, 49 are in intensive care units and 12 on ventilators.

Since yesterday, the Maine CDC has started 20 new outbreak investigations all around the state, including: Becket House at Belgrade mental health facility with four cases; Calais Elementary School, four cases; Carmel Middle School, three cases; Church of Faith in Skowhegan, three cases; Eric L. Knowlton School in Berwick, three cases; and the Hibbard Nursing Home in Dover-Foxcroft, three cases.

There are also investigations at Lewiston High School, three cases; Maine Department of Transportation Western Division in Wilton, three cases; Pinnacle Health in Canton, five cases; Rockland Marine Corp., six cases; York High School, four cases; Bath Iron Works, 10 cases; Dielectric in Raymond, four cases; Good to Grow Childcare in Eliot, three cases; and Southern Maine Health Care - Goodall Hospital mental health construction site, four cases.

And there are investigations at Greene Central School, four cases; Marshwood High School in South Berwick, three cases; Upper Kennebec High School in Bingham, eight cases; Volunteers of America facility in Brunswick, three cases; and Windham High School, three cases.

The number of schools on the list was "disconcerting," Shah said, even though transmission in schools has not been sustained. He credited school administrators, teachers and staff for their preparation and added, "it is paying off."

When asked to give an update on the outbreak at Brooks Pentecostal Church, Shah said the investigation into the outbreak there had been closed today and stood at 62 people who had contracted the virus.

One reporter noted hearing Shah say a vaccine hypothetically could be available next week if approved, and asked him to confirm this. Shah said it was true, but that the first group of vaccines will not be for the general population but rather for high-risk health care employees. A vaccine for the general public is still "months away," he said.

Regarding the recent governor's mandate of a 9 p.m. curfew for some businesses, Commissioner Heather Johnson of the Department of Economic and Community Development said the time was not a "particular magic point," but that the goal was to try and reduce the time people spend congregating.

The mandate begins Friday, Nov. 20, and runs through Dec. 6. All outdoor and indoor amusement venues, movie theaters, performing arts venues, casinos and businesses that provide seated food and drink service, including social clubs, restaurants and bars, and tasting rooms currently open for outdoor service, will close for the night by 9 p.m.

"As it gets later in the evening, riskier behavior becomes much more natural for all of us," Johnson said. "We were looking for a targeted action ... that addresses the specific challenges we are concerned with" and that kept as much business capacity as possible while preserving public health.

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