After a full week with no new COVID-19 cases, Lincoln County saw three new cases Monday, March 30.
The new cases were among data announced by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention at noon Monday.
The first case in Lincoln County was announced March 15. LincolnHealth announced the second, in one of its nurses, March 16. The third, fourth, and fifth case were announced March 18, 20, and 23.
As of Tuesday, March 31, Maine has 303 cases, double the number from one week ago.
Of the 301, 68 people have recovered and 57 have been hospitalized. Five people have died, the first Friday, March 27.
John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said Monday, March 30 that of the eight positive cases in Lincoln County, three have been tested through LincolnHealth. All are outpatients who have self-quarantined.
Two of the eight Lincoln County patients have recovered, according to the Maine CDC.
LincolnHealth has conducted 91 tests at its Miles Campus in Damariscotta and another 13 at its St. Andrews Campus in Boothbay Harbor, LincolnHealth CEO and President Jim Donovan said in an interview with Lincoln County Television on Monday.
LincolnHealth is taking measures to prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, like setting up a triage tent in front of the emergency room to allow for separation of COVID-19 patients from other patients.
“I think we have at least several more weeks to go where we’re going to see more and more numbers,” Donovan said.
The hospital has been shifting staff to better prepare the Miles Campus, where COVID-19 testing is being conducted by drive-thru.
Most recently, the hospital moved its employees from the Lincoln Medical Partners campus in Wiscasset to the Miles Campus. Martins said services are temporarily suspended at the Wiscasset office, but patients can contact their providers by calling LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus.
Donovan said all physical, speech, and occupational therapy is being relocated to the St. Andrews Campus, which will put the third floor of the hospital “in play for surge capacity, should we need it.”
Martins said the hospital is adequately stocked with personal protective equipment and testing supplies. Hospital staff monitor the supplies constantly and coordinate with MaineHealth to ensure availability.
Donovan said Monday that the hospital has supplies for 150 COVID-19 tests. He said MaineHealth, LincolnHealth’s parent organization, recently secured an order for 1 million face masks.
LincolnHealth implemented a universal masking procedure Monday, meaning all employees must wear masks when within 6 feet of anyone.
“The more we pay attention to social distancing, the more we get to that point where you’ve heard the experts talk about ‘flattening the curve,’ Donovan said.
Mills gives stay-at-home order
After two deaths were announced and the COVID-19 case total in Maine surpassed 300 on Tuesday, March 31, Gov. Janet Mills announced a “stay healthy at home” mandate, prohibiting Mainers from leaving their homes for anything but “essential personal activities.”
Such essential activities include grocery shopping; obtaining medical care or medication; providing care to another person, a pet, or livestock; outdoor exercise; or working an essential job.
The mandate will take effect at 12:01 a.m., Thursday, April 2 and run through at least April 30, although the mandate allows the governor to amend the timeline at her discretion. The mandate also extended the closure of restaurants and bars for dine-in customers to April 30.
The order mandates physical distancing of at least 6 feet from any individual when out of the home or at work at an essential business.
Schools now must remain closed to in-person instruction until at least May 1.
Essential businesses like grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware stores must limit the number of people allowed inside at one time, with the number depending on building dimensions.
Mills continued to recommend that anyone traveling from out of state self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Maine.
Many seasonal residents are returning to their homes in Maine well before summer in order to escape more populous areas, including those with outbreaks.
“We are in the midst of one of the greatest public health crises this world has seen in more than a century. This virus will continue to sicken people across our state; our cases will only grow, and more people will die. I say this to be direct, to be as honest with you as I can, because saving lives will depend on us,” said Mills.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, urges Mainers to act as if COVID-19 is being transmitted in their communities.
Community transmission has so far been confirmed in Cumberland and York counties.
Shah also stresses physical distancing – staying 6 feet away from other people.
The Maine CDC recommends that residents stay home when sick, wash hands often for at least 20 seconds, practice physical distancing, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Health officials urge patients to stay at home and call their doctor for guidance if they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms. The symptoms include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and, in some patients, a sore throat. A doctor’s note is required to be tested for COVID-19.