Seven Confirmed and Five Presumptive Positive Cases in Maine; U.S. CDC Affirms State Lab Results
March 15, 2020
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Robert Long, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Robert.Long@maine.gov or (207) 287-9395
AUGUSTA — The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) announced Sunday several developments related to the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Maine CDC has received five new presumptive positive tests from a lab affiliated with MaineHealth, which are now under review at the State’s Health and Environmental Testing Lab (HETL).
Additionally, samples that test positive at HETL will now be classified as confirmed cases, rather than presumptive positive cases, based on the U.S. CDC’s confidence in the State’s testing protocols.
Maine now has five presumptive positive tests and seven confirmed cases.
In light of these new developments, Governor Janet Mills, Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah, and others will hold a press conference at 6:30 p.m. today at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services at 109 Capitol Street in Augusta
The presumptive positive tests are for the following individuals:
- Maine CDC has received a presumptive positive test result for a person under the age of 18. The individual is a male who resides in Cumberland County and is isolated at home. This is the state’s first presumptive positive test result for a person under the age of 18.
- Maine CDC also received a presumptive positive test for a resident of Oceanview at Falmouth, a senior living community. The individual is a male in his 80s. Maine CDC staff immediately contacted the individual, the person’s medical provider, and the administration of the facility to investigate and mitigate potential exposures. He is hospitalized at Maine Medical Center. Staff, residents of the community, and their families are being notified. Maine CDC instructed the facility to begin symptom checks on all residents immediately as a precautionary measure. Maine CDC is releasing this more detailed identifying information about this presumptive positive test because it could involve potential community spread. Maine CDC will release more detailed identifying information when it can be part of a strategy to help reduce potential community spread.
- Maine CDC received presumptive positive test results for a woman in her 30s, a health care worker, who resides in Lincoln County. Her employer has been contacted and steps have been taken to reduce exposure to patients, staff, and other community members. She is isolated at home.
- Maine CDC today received a presumptive positive test for a woman in her 70s from Cumberland County. She is isolated at home.
- Maine CDC today received a presumptive positive test for a male in his 40s from Cumberland County. He is isolated at home.
Affected individuals have been notified. More information will be released when it becomes available. Samples from these five individuals and other presumptive positive tests continue to be sent to Maine CDC for review.
Additionally, U.S. CDC has updated its classification of test results. As of today, U.S. CDC no longer requires HETL to send samples from presumptive positive tests to the federal lab for confirmation. Moving forward, samples that test positive at HETL will be classified as confirmed cases. Cases previously classified as presumptive positive have now been reclassified as confirmed cases, based on the U.S. CDC’s confidence in Maine CDC’s testing protocols. Tests conducted at outside labs that were previously classified as preliminary presumptive positive will now be identified as presumptive positive tests as they await confirmation.
HETL is receiving samples and conducting testing for COVID-19 seven days a week.
Maine has seven confirmed cases and five presumptive positive tests at this time.
One case identified Friday as a preliminary presumptive positive has been reclassified as negative, based on Maine CDC’s review of a sample submitted by a lab affiliated with MaineHealth. Retesting yielded negative results, and U.S. CDC concurs with Maine CDC’s determination. This test result involved a woman in her 20s from York County, who was being cared for at Maine Medical Center in Portland.
In response to today’s affirmation from the U.S. CDC of HETL’s testing results, Maine CDC now has two categories related to positive test results:
- Confirmed cases: This now includes cases formerly identified as presumptive positive. This classification applies to samples sent by a health provider directly to HETL that test positive and to samples from non-governmental labs for which HETL validates positive results. Maine has seven confirmed cases.
- Presumptive positive tests: These are samples that test positive at non-governmental labs and are sent to HETL for validation. Maine has five presumptive positive tests at this time.
The Maine CDC webpage devoted to COVID-19 will be updated to reflect these changes. Numbers for each category will be updated by noon Monday through Friday.
On Thursday, Governor Janet Mills announced the state’s first presumptive positive test, a woman in her 50s from Androscoggin County. A second presumptive positive test involving a man in his 50s from Cumberland County was reported on Friday. These cases have been reclassified as confirmed. A third confirmed case is a woman in her 40s from Cumberland County who was a close household contact of the other confirmed case in Cumberland County. Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Individuals who exhibit those symptoms are advised to contact medical providers before going to a health care facility. Medical providers will make initial determinations about who should be tested.
Maine people can protect their health by taking the same preventive measures that help to avoid catching a cold: Wash your hands often for 20 seconds. Cover coughs and sneezes. Stay home if you are sick.
Governor Mills announced three steps in response to the first presumptive positive test for COVID-19 in Maine. These steps include: 1) proclaiming an insurance emergency to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing; 2) suspending all non-essential out-of-state work travel by State employees; and 3) recommending, on the advice of Maine CDC, that non-essential large, indoor gatherings of 250 attendees or more be postponed in order to delay a potential coronavirus outbreak and substantially reduce its spread.
Governor Mills has convened a Coronavirus Response Team, led by Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav D. Shah and composed of key individuals in her Administration, to coordinate State government’s response across departments and local agencies and health authorities to the threat of COVID-19. The response team builds on the work that has already been done by the Maine CDC to prepare for potential cases of COVID-19.
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