The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported three new cases of COVID-19 and one more hospitalization in Lincoln County over the past week.
The CDC reported the new cases May 21, 23, and 24, and the new hospitalization May 23. The hospitalization was only the second of a Lincoln County resident due to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
In total, 20 individuals from Lincoln County have tested positive and two have been hospitalized. Twelve of the 20 have recovered, which leaves eight active cases.
Community transmission of the virus has not yet been detected in Lincoln County, according to the Maine CDC.
Neither of the hospitalized patients are at LincolnHealth, the only hospital in the county, according to spokesperson John Martins.
Two more COVID-19 cases were confirmed through LincolnHealth in the past week, bringing the total to 11.
Since the coronavirus arrived in the county March 15, LincolnHealth has performed 566 tests, with 555 negatives.
Martins said by email that the hospital remains adequately stocked with COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment.
The three new cases in Lincoln County come after the Maine CDC relaxed testing guidelines on May 18 to allow for testing of anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19. The guidelines follow the boosting of testing capacity in the state.
Previously, only patients in hospitals or congregate care facilities, health care workers or first responders, people 60 and up, or people with an underlying medical condition were prioritized for testing.
LincolnHealth is currently testing all patients admitted for surgery. Starting on June 1, in accordance with updated testing guidelines from MaineHealth, the hospital will begin testing all patients admitted to the hospital, whether they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms or not.
“This will greatly reduce the chances of transmission from asymptomatic patients and lessen the chance that patients will have post-surgical complications from COVID-19,” Martins said of the new policy.
Also on June 1, LincolnHealth will begin to offer testing to anyone who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19, “even those who do not have underlying health conditions or are not a health care or other essential worker,” Martins said in an email.
Martins said the number of calls to LincolnHealth’s COVID-19 clinic fluctuates, but the volume has ticked up slightly in the past week.
Martins said there have not been any further policy changes at the hospital, although he reminded visitors that a face mask must be worn at all times to receive primary care services.
“Anyone who will not wear a mask for a primary care visit may benefit from telehealth,” Martins said.
According to the Maine CDC, as of Tuesday, May 26, 2,109 people have or had COVID-19 in Maine. This is an increase of 368 from the week before.
There have been 258 hospitalizations and 1,318 people have recovered. There have been 79 deaths attributed to the illness.
Of the 2,109 cases, 215 are “probable cases.” This category includes people who are close contacts of someone with a confirmed case and become symptomatic.
The number of active cases, 712 – calculated by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the confirmed case total – is an increase of 132 from Tuesday, May 19.
The Maine CDC has also started listing the results of antibody tests, which are intended to detect whether someone has had COVID-19 and recovered from it.
It is not yet known if testing positive for coronavirus antibodies confers immunity from COVID-19.
Since May 20, 177 people have tested positive for antibodies and there have been 2,704 negative results in Maine. Three tests were indeterminate.
Martins, of LincolnHealth, said the hospital has not yet found a reliable antibody test.