The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported six new cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County residents and two new hospitalizations — only the fourth and fifth hospitalizations of county residents — in the past week. The agency also reported two more recoveries, leaving 10 active cases among county residents.
Five of the new cases were reported Wednesday, Sept. 30. The data is current through Sept. 29, according to the Maine CDC.
Robert Long, spokesperson for the Maine CDC, said by email that the bump in cases has not been identified as an outbreak and community transmission has still not been detected in Lincoln County.
“Case investigations are ongoing, and if they establish epidemiological links between at least three cases, an outbreak investigation will be opened. The additional cases do not immediately change Lincoln County’s community transmission status, but information provided through ongoing case investigations could lead to a change,” Long said.
One of the new cases, reported Wednesday, Sept. 23, involves a student at Coastal Kids Preschool in Damariscotta. (See “Damariscotta preschooler tests positive for COVID-19, no outbreak” in this edition.)
The case was isolated and no outbreak has been identified at the school, Long said.
The Maine CDC has reported 11 new cases among county residents since Sept. 12.
The mother of the Coastal Kids student said they have not left their town recently and she has “no idea” where he could have contracted the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.
As of Tuesday, Sept. 29, the Maine CDC has reported 47 cases of COVID-19 in Lincoln County. There have been 40 confirmed cases and seven probable cases.
The case rate for Lincoln County is 13.7 per 10,000 people. Five residents have been hospitalized at some point in their illness, one of whom has died.
There have been 36 recoveries, leaving the 10 active cases. The number of active cases is calculated by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the confirmed and probable case total.
According to LincolnHealth spokesperson John Martins, the hospital performed 397 COVID-19 tests between Sept. 21 and Sept. 27, with one positive. The number of tests is 101 more than the previous week and the highest weekly number for the hospital since the pandemic began.
The Coastal Kids student was tested at LincolnHealth’s drive-up Respiratory Care Clinic at the Webster Van Winkle Building on the hospital’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta on Sept. 22. The family received the results the next day, according to the child’s mother, who asked not to be identified.
Martins declined to comment on the case, citing federal patient confidentiality laws.
Martins said there has been a significant increase in calls to the Respiratory Care Clinic in the past 10 days and, despite the past week’s testing numbers being the highest since the pandemic began, LincolnHealth’s cumulative positivity rate remains very low, at 0.43%.
LincolnHealth also hosts a state-sponsored “swab-and-send” testing program at the Respiratory Care Clinic. Martins said that in the past week, 11 of these tests have been conducted with no positives.
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 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.
Of the 397 tests LincolnHealth performed in the past week, 186 were clinical, for people exhibiting symptoms; 50 were of patients without symptoms at either admission or discharge from the hospital; and 161 were preoperative or of people with known exposure to COVID-19 who did not exhibit symptoms.
Martins said that in accordance with new federal and state guidelines, the hospital is testing all employees at its long-term care facilities. All the employees at Cove’s Edge have been tested and there have not been any positive results as of Tuesday, Sept. 29.
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 3,025 tests, with 13 positives.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, as of Sept. 29, Maine’s seven-day average positivity rate is 0.4%, down from 0.5% last week.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nationwide positivity rate for “week 38,” ending Sept. 19, was 4.8% — the same rate reported 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 5,391 COVID-19 cases in Maine as of Tuesday, an increase of 245 from the week before. Of those cases, 567 are probable.
There have been 449 hospitalizations and 4,678 people have recovered. There have been 141 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine. The statewide case rate is 40.3 per 10,000 people.
The number of active cases, 572, is a decrease of 27 from a week before.
The Maine CDC also lists the results of antibody tests. Since May 20, 522 people have tested positive for antibodies and there have been 9,848 negative results. Fourteen tests were indeterminate.