The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County residents on Monday, Sept. 21.
The Maine CDC has reported five new cases among county residents since Sept. 12, but still says it has not detected community transmission of the virus in Lincoln County.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, said by email that there are no outbreak investigations in Lincoln County.
“Our investigations have not established the connecting point for the new cases,” Long said by email Tuesday, Sept. 22.
As of Monday, Sept. 21, the Maine CDC has reported 41 cases of the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus in Lincoln County since mid-March — six of which are active. There have been 36 confirmed cases and five probable cases.
The case rate for Lincoln County is 11.9 per 10,000 people. Three residents have been hospitalized at some point in their illness, one of whom has died.
There have been 34 recoveries, leaving the six active cases. The number of active cases is calculated by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the confirmed and probable case total.
According to John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, the hospital performed 296 COVID-19 tests between Sept. 14 and Sept. 20, with three positives. The numbers are up from the week prior, when it conducted 243 tests with one positive.
Martins said he did not have any additional information on the three cases or know whether they are related.
“As has been the case since COVID-19 arrived in Maine, we are watching cases closely to see if there are any trends,” Martins said by email.
This number does not include tests at the state-sponsored “swab-and-send” testing site on the hospital’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta. Martins said that in the past week, the site performed six tests with no positive results.
All COVID-19 drive-up testing is taking place on the Miles Campus at the Webster Van Winkle Building, on the hill above Chase Point, where the hospital recently relocated its Respiratory Care Clinic.
The swab-and-send site currently offers drive-up testing by appointment outside the clinic from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday and Thursday. To make an appointment, call the clinic at 563-4353.
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services announced that anyone who feels they need a COVID-19 test in Maine can now get one at a swab-and-send clinic, even without a doctor’s order.
The new order “helps people who don’t have a primary health care provider, can’t communicate in a timely way with their health care provider, or are visiting Maine or coming back to Maine from another state,” a news release from Gov. Janet Mills’ office says.
Of the 296 tests LincolnHealth performed in the past week, 122 were clinical, for people exhibiting symptoms; 37 were of patients without symptoms at either admission or discharge from the hospital; and 137 were preoperative or of people with known exposure to COVID-19 who did not exhibit symptoms.
Martins also said the hospital, in accordance with new federal and state guidelines, will be testing all employees at the hospital’s long-term care facilities. Testing is set to begin at Cove’s Edge on Wednesday, Sept. 23.
Martins said federal and state authorities will determine the frequency of employee testing based on whether there is community spread of the coronavirus.
Starting in October, LincolnHealth will also begin offering drive-up flu testing and flu shots for anyone over the age of 7.
The clinics will be offered at the Respiratory Care Clinic on the Miles Campus and at the Family Care Center on the St. Andrews Campus in Boothbay Harbor. Hours will be from 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays.
“This is an opportunity for folks to get a vaccine that is available that offers protection against a virus that could be deadly. It’s especially important this year because of COVID-19 and the potential for both viruses to be at play at the same time,” Martins said by email.
Since July 13, LincolnHealth has conducted 2,628 tests, with 12 positives, for a positivity rate of 0.46%.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Sept. 22, Maine’s seven-day average positivity rate is 0.5%.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 37,” ending Sept. 12, was 4.8% — down from 5.2% the previous week.
LincolnHealth has also conducted three serology, or antibody, tests since July 13, which were negative. These tests determine if someone has been infected with the coronavirus by detecting antibodies the body deploys to fight the infection. The U.S. CDC states on its website that it is unknown whether antibodies confer immunity from the virus.
“We currently don’t have enough information yet to say whether someone will definitely be immune and protected from reinfection if they have antibodies to the virus,” the site says.
State COVID-19 numbers
The Maine CDC has reported 5,146 COVID-19 cases in Maine as of Monday, an increase of 228 from the week before. Of those cases, 529 are probable.
There have been 442 hospitalizations and 4,407 people have recovered. There have been 140 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine. The statewide case rate is 38.4 per 10,000 people.
The number of active cases, 599, is an increase of 98 from a week before.
The Maine CDC also lists the results of antibody tests. Since May 20, 513 people have tested positive for antibodies and there have been 9,665 negative results. Fourteen tests were indeterminate.