Four new cases of COVID-19 were announced by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Friday, March 20, including a new case in Lincoln County.
Lincoln County now has three confirmed cases and one presumptive positive case.
There are currently 56 cases in Maine, 44 confirmed and 12 presumptive positive. This increased from 52 on Thursday, and 42 on Wednesday, showing a smaller jump than the previous day.
There were eight new cases overall, however, four cases from out-of-state residents have now been attributed to their home state, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC.
There have been 2,264 negative tests in Maine so far.
Shah said at a news conference on March 20 that the Maine CDC sees evidence of “community transmission” in Cumberland County and that five Mainers have been hospitalized by COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
More information about the new case in Lincoln County was not immediately available.
The Maine CDC’s website changed the configuration of the COVID-19 case page on March 18, which is updated by noon each day Monday-Friday, so that individual cases are no longer identified by age and sex.
The page now lists case numbers categorized by confirmed cases, presumptive positive cases, and negative tests. It also lists confirmed and presumptive positive case totals by county, age, and sex.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, said by e-mail on March 18 that the information on the website is all that can be provided currently.
A doctor’s note is needed to be tested for COVID-19.
Health officials are urging patients stay at home and to 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.
Edgecomb town meeting postponed
The town of Edgecomb has postponed its annual town meeting, the open portion of which was scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, May 16. The election that was scheduled for that Friday, May 15 has also been postponed.
“The state has enacted special measures that will allow the town to operate (pay its bills, accept payments, etc.) without a new budget voted into place, provided the town operates on the current year’s budget,” Edgecomb Board of Selectmen Chair Jack Sarmanian said in a statement.
Damariscotta lifts plastic bag ban, delays taxes
Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus declared an emergency exemption to the town’s ban on plastic bags to allow restaurants and other businesses to resume use of single-use plastic bags for pick-up service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, March 18.
The exemption will remain in effect until the state ban on single use plastic bags takes effect on April 22, 2020, Lutkus said in an e-mail.
Governor Janet Mills ordered all restaurants and bars in Maine to close beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 18.
The executive order signed by Mills allows restaurants to offer takeout, drive-through, and home delivery service, and also prohibits non-work social gatherings of more than 10 people. These limits apply to “civic, public, leisure, and faith-based events” as well as social clubs, sporting events, fundraisers, festivals, fairs, or entertainment events.
The Damariscotta Board of Selectmen also voted to delay the tax due date from Wednesday, April 1 to Monday, May 4 at a virtual meeting on March 18.
There will be no interest fee charged for payments made before or on May 4 for payments that were previously due April 1.
Lutkus and Selectmen Josh Pinkham, Lou Abbotoni, Mark Hagar, and Daryl Fraser attended the meeting in person, with their seats spaced farther apart to practice social distancing.
Board Chair Robin Mayer and LCN attended virtually through Zoom meeting software. Mills approved emergency legislation on March 18 to allow municipalities to conduct essential public meetings virtually.
Lutkus also said only one staff member will be in the town office at a time to conduct business. He said by phone on March 20 that he will keep the employees as busy as possible with the limited access to the town office.
Lutkus said most of the staff’s work involves customer contact.
The selectmen voted to continue full pay and benefits for town office employees for the next two weeks, although they will not be in the office working full-time.
After the Damariscotta Budget Committee meeting at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 23, which will be attended through Zoom or by phone, all future non-urgent public meetings will be postponed until further notice.
The board of selectmen will meet via Zoom at 5:30 p.m., April 1.
AOS 93 closure, meal availability
AOS 93 announced an extension of school closures from two weeks to three weeks, until at least Friday, April 3.
Damariscotta-based AOS 93 has five elementary schools: Bristol Consolidated School, Great Salt Bay Community School, Jefferson Village School, Nobleboro Central School, and South Bristol School.
The school district will be offering free meals for students for pick-up at the following locations and times: Bristol Consolidated School, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; Central Lincoln County YMCA in Damariscotta, Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-noon; and Jefferson Village School and Nobleboro Central School, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
LincolnHealth visitation policy
LincolnHealth is essentially closing to visitors at its Miles campus in Damariscotta and St. Andrew’s campus in Boothbay Harbor, as well as the Lincoln Medical Partners practices in Boothbay, Damariscotta, Waldoboro, and Wiscasset, as of Friday, March 20.
There are exceptions to allow one visitor at a time in each of the pediatrics, obstetrics, end-of-life care, and day surgery departments.
One person will be allowed to pick up a patient after discharge or as an “escort to emergency department, outpatient and ambulatory areas in some circumstances,” according to the hospital’s statement.
“We recognize that family support is essential to the healing process and that heightened restrictions are particularly difficult for parents with young children, those who are expecting a child, and those facing end-of-life decisions,” James Donovan, president and CEO of LincolnHealth said in the statement. “While this is a difficult decision, we feel it is the best way to protect the health of our patients and of our care team members.”
All visitors will be screened upon entering one of LincolnHealth’s facilities, according to the statement. Visitors will be asked a series of questions, including whether they have a fever, a new cough in the last 14 days, shortness of breath, a sore throat, or a runny nose.
In an interview with Lincoln County Television on Friday, March 20, LincolnHealth’s Chief Nursing Officer Christine Anderson said the hospital has “adequate” supplies of COVID-19 tests and personal protective equipment such as facemasks, gowns, and gloves for the time being.
She said they are monitoring the supplies hourly and have a direct link to MaineHealth’s supply chain.
“Staying in place is important. And if you can stay home, we encourage you to do so,” Anderson said.
The LCTV interview can be viewed at http://lctv.org/corona-virus-update-lincoln-health-miles-campus-march-20-2020/.