The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention opened an outbreak investigation Monday, Nov. 16 after three more employees at Cove’s Edge, a long-term care facility on LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta, tested positive for COVID-19.
The test results, received Sunday, Nov. 15, came from a second round of universal testing conducted at the facility on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 12 and 13. Four employees have now tested positive, while all residents have tested negative.
On Tuesday, Nov. 18, John Martins, spokesperson for LincolnHealth, said by email that no other positives had been identified and that the next round of universal testing would take place Thursday, Nov. 19.
Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah announced 14 new outbreaks Monday, including the investigation at Cove’s Edge.
The agency defines outbreaks as three or more epidemiologically linked COVID-19 cases in a two-week period.
An initial positive test for an employee, discovered Oct. 30, triggered two rounds of universal testing at Cove’s Edge. State-mandated surveillance testing on Oct. 28 and 29 turned up the initial positive, according to Martins.
None of the employees have had symptoms and they are all quarantining at home, according to a Nov. 16 statement from LincolnHealth.
All close contacts of those who tested positive have been notified, as well as Cove’s Edge residents, their families, and all LincolnHealth employees.
Cove’s Edge will continue to conduct universal testing for the next two weeks, per Maine CDC guidelines. The facility has to have no COVID-19 cases for 28 days for the outbreak investigation to be closed.
Although considered an outbreak, the hospital said in the statement that the cases are “are unlikely to be isolated or confined to the facility as the coronavirus is increasingly showing up in Maine’s rural areas.”
Martins had said by email Nov. 9 that the state mandates surveillance testing for all employees at least once a month. The community positivity rate per 10,000 residents determines the frequency of the tests.
“When a facility has a positive case associated with it, universal testing applies. All employees and residents need to be tested for two weeks to assure that no one has developed COVID-19 from possible exposure,” Martins wrote.
Jim Donovan, president of LincolnHealth, said in the hospital’s statement that Lincoln County residents must step up their vigilance in defending against COVID-19 infection and not give in to “so-called COVID fatigue” after eight months of dealing with the pandemic.
“We urge everyone in the community to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose whenever they are in public, as well as when they are in an indoor space with people who are not part of their immediate household. This should be the case even when people are practicing social distancing and are more than 6 feet apart,” Donovan said.
“The skyrocketing numbers of cases in Maine drive home the importance of taking this threat seriously. Wear your mask, social distance, avoid group gatherings, and wash your hands regularly. If we all do our part, we have a better chance to limit the spread of this virus,” Donovan said.