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First public school coronavirus outbreak reported in Sanford

By Fran Gonzalez | Sep 22, 2020

Augusta — Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday, Sept. 22, 12 individuals at Sanford High School and Regional Technical Center have tested positive for COVID-19. It is the first public school in the state to record an outbreak.

After discovering its first case Friday, the school switched to an all-remote learning model by Monday.

In a letter to students and families sent Sunday, Superintendent Matt Nelson said the school was switching gears out of an "abundance of caution" and that there is a possibility "other staff or students" may have been exposed to the virus.

The letter goes on to say Maine CDC or school officials will contact people directly if they are identified as a close contact of someone who tested positive.

Shah said possible methods of transmission outside of school the CDC was investigating were a pickup game of football and a sunrise gathering of seniors that both took place Sept. 16.

"This is a good illustration of the fact that there is still a risk for COVID-19, even after schools have moved to remote education," he said. "Out-of-school gatherings matter just as much as in-school gatherings."

Shah said there are 40 new cases of COVID-19 since yesterday, with 17 people currently hospitalized because of the disease. The death toll in Maine remains at 140 individuals and since his last briefing Thursday, Sept. 17, there have been 184 new cases.

Out of all the new cases, he said, 58% are in York County.

Regarding new outbreaks, Shah said patrons of the Ogunquit Beach Lobster House in Ogunquit may have been exposed to COVID-19 after three employees there tested positive for the virus.

Hussey Seating Co. in Berwick and the Wolves Social Club in Sanford each had three individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services said the standing order to get tested in the state has been expanded so that anyone can get tested without a referral from a health care provider.

Currently there are 24 "swab and send" testing sites across the state providing access to people who would like to be tested. To find a nearby site, visit get-tested-covid19.org.

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