Lincoln County has five more cases of COVID-19, the largest week-over-week increase since the disease reached the county. State officials would not say whether the cases are linked.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported three new confirmed cases Wednesday, July 15 and two new probable cases Saturday, July 18.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, said the agency has not opened any new outbreak investigations in Lincoln County. He said patient privacy laws prohibited him from saying whether the five new cases are linked.
ZIP code data does not indicate the location of the new cases.
The Maine CDC lists the following Lincoln County municipalities and places as having one to five cases: Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Bristol, Damariscotta, Dresden, Edgecomb, Jefferson, Newcastle, Southport, Waldoboro, Walpole, and Wiscasset.
The agency does not list any cases in Alna, Bremen, East Boothbay, New Harbor, Nobleboro, Pemaquid, Round Pond, South Bristol, Trevett, or Whitefield.
Squirrel Island and Chamberlain are listed as “data suppressed.” The Maine CDC is suppressing data in ZIP codes with fewer than 50 residents, citing privacy concerns.
Ten new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in the past month, accounting for 32.26% of the total case count since the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus first arrived in Lincoln County on March 15.
“The recent increase in the number of cases in Lincoln County does not yet suggest a trend. They remind us, however, of the importance of taking the appropriate precautions: wear a mask, socially distance as able, wash hands regularly, and seek medical advice if you have concerns,” Dr. Andrew Russ, vice president of medical affairs at LincolnHealth, said by email.
According to data current as of Monday, July 20, 26 Lincoln County residents have had a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and there have been five probable cases.
The probable case category includes people who are close contacts of someone with a confirmed case and become symptomatic or someone who has had a confirmed antibody test and had close contact with a confirmed case or became symptomatic.
The case rate for Lincoln County is reported as 9.0 per 10,000 people. Three residents have been hospitalized at some point in their illness for COVID-19. There have been 23 recoveries, leaving a total of eight active cases.
Community transmission of the virus has not been detected in Lincoln County, according to the Maine CDC.
According to John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, between July 13 and 19 the hospital conducted 229 COVID-19 tests, two of which were positive. Of the 229 tests, 102 were clinical, 31 tests were of patients in the hospital or those being admitted, and 96 were pre-operative.
After over a month of increasing calls to LincolnHealth’s Respiratory Care Clinic because of confusion about testing policy, Martins said the call volume has started to fall off somewhat. He said the clinic still averages between 60-70 calls on weekdays.
Martins said many calls to the clinic are still inquiries about “swab and send” testing and “passport testing” for out-of-state residents.
Gov. Janet Mills announced the “swab and send” plan July 14 and the expansion of the program Tuesday, July 21. There are plans for 22 mobile drive-thru COVID-19 specimen collection sites, where tests will be available for free without a doctor’s order. Six of the sites are operational.
None are currently planned for Lincoln County.
Martins said LincolnHealth’s testing policy remains the same as it has been for the last several weeks.
If someone feels that their symptoms warrant a visit to the urgent care center on the St. Andrews Campus in Boothbay Harbor or the emergency department at the Miles Campus, they can receive a test there after first calling ahead and registering as a patient.
For people with an established relationship with MaineHealth or LincolnHealth, testing may be available without symptoms if the individual has had known exposure or is at elevated risk of exposure.
LincolnHealth defines known exposure as being within 6 feet of someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 for at least 30 minutes.
Martins said arrangements for testing can be made by calling one of LincolnHealth’s primary care offices. If a test is deemed necessary, the individual will be referred to a testing location.
Changes to MaineHealth’s visitation policy, which includes LincolnHealth, took effect Monday, July 20.
In the pediatrics department, two parents or guardians will be allowed at one time; in obstetrics, one person, a spouse or coach, will be permitted in the labor and delivery area; in critical care, two visitors will be allowed daily; in end of life, up to four people may visit patients likely to die within 24 hours; in the emergency department, one person can accompany a patient in the emergency room as long as physical distancing can be observed; and for all other inpatient areas, one visitor will be allowed daily for up to two hours between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
State COVID-19 numbers
The Maine CDC has reported 3,723 people COVID-19 cases in Maine as of Monday, July 20, an increase of 157 from the week before. Of those cases, 423 are probable.
There have been 377 hospitalizations and 3,191 people have recovered. There have been 118 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine. The statewide case rate is 27.8 per 10,000 people.
The number of active cases, 414 – calculated by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the confirmed and probable case total – is an increase of 24 from one week before.
The Maine CDC also lists 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, 386 people have tested positive for antibodies and there have been 8,084 negative results in Maine. Nine tests were indeterminate.
(Correction: An earlier version of this article online and on the front page of the July 23 print edition incorrectly reported that Bristol is listed as having zero cases of COVID-19. The Maine CDC lists Bristol as having one to five cases. The Lincoln County News regrets the error.)