Lincoln County saw one new case of COVID-19, one hospitalization, and another recovery from the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus during the past week. The new case is just the sixth reported since May 23.
According to data current as of Monday, July 13, 23 Lincoln County residents have had a confirmed positive test for COVID-19 and there have been three “probable cases.” The newest case was reported Wednesday, July 8.
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 7.6 per 10,000 people. Three residents have been hospitalized at some point in their illness for COVID-19. There have been 22 recoveries, leaving a total of four active cases.
Community transmission of the virus has not been detected in Lincoln County, according to the Maine CDC.
LincolnHealth has not seen any new positive cases of COVID-19 in the past week, according to hospital spokesperson John Martins.
However, health care professionals continue to preach vigilance to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While the rates of new infections diagnosed in Lincoln County continue to be low, we must continue to be vigilant as more visitors come from out of state to enjoy the Maine coast,” Dr. Tim Fox, chief medical officer at LincolnHealth, said by email.
From July 7-13, LincolnHealth conducted 96 tests, not including pre-surgical testing, and all were negative, according to Martins. Of these, 58 were clinical tests and 38 were for patients admitted to the hospital.
Martins said that for the past several weeks, calls to LincolnHealth’s Respiratory Care Clinic at the Miles Campus in Damariscotta, formerly the COVID-19 clinic, have been increasing. He said this is due to confusion about who can receive testing at the hospital and inquires about “swab and send” and “passport testing” for out-of-state residents.
Gov. Janet Mills announced the “swab and send” plan Tuesday, July 14. Seven health care organizations are launching 18 mobile drive-thru COVID-19 specimen collection sites, where tests will be available for free without a doctor’s order.
None of these sites are planned for Lincoln County.
Martins said LincolnHealth’s testing policy remains the same as it has been for the last few 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 someone who has been within 6 feet of another person 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.
Martins also said the hospital’s supplies of COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment are very good, almost back to pre-pandemic levels.
There will be a change to the entire MaineHealth system’s visitation policy, which includes LincolnHealth, effective 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 expire 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.
Martins said the staff at LincolnHealth is in good spirits because of the ability to see more patients each day and provide necessary care again.
However, in the long-term care facilities, staff does not have the benefit of seeing increased services and visitation, Martins said. These facilities remain in lockdown.
“We have a great team that takes pride in the fact that no residents have tested positive yet for COVID. There’s also an added pressure because of the risk of COVID in (long-term care) and the knowledge that if it happens to get into (long-term care), it will come in from someone from the outside,” Martins said by email.
Martins said that longer hours and staffing challenges have also weighed on workers in long-term care and that LincolnHealth is looking at ways to decrease the burden on them.
State COVID-19 numbers
The Maine CDC reports that 3,566 people have or had COVID-19 in Maine as of Monday, July 13, an increase of 126 from the week before. Of these cases, 398 are probable cases.
There have been 373 hospitalizations and 3,062 people have recovered. There have been 114 deaths so far from COVID-19 in Maine. The statewide case rate is 26.6 per 10,000 people.
The number of active cases, 390 – calculated by subtracting recoveries and deaths from the confirmed and probable case total – is a decrease of 124 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, 373 people have tested positive for antibodies and there have been 7,772 negative results in Maine. Nine tests were indeterminate.