BELFAST — The number of COVID-19 cases at the Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Community in Belfast has increased to 25, according to the Maine CDC.
During the April 15 daily briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah announced the Belfast facility has 25 individuals — at least five employees and at least 19 residents — who have tested positive. Whether the 25th individual was an employee or a resident at Tall Pines was not immediately available.
Since the outbreak began at Tall Pines, two deaths have been recorded at Tall Pines.
Shah noted during an April 10 briefing every individual, including staff, at the facility has now been tested for COVID-19 and those tests are now being analyzed, though he noted 33 tests have, so far, come back negative.
The positive cases are at The Commons at Tall Pines, which provides nursing care.
On the same campus is another building home to assisted living and individual apartment residents. According to one woman whose mother lives there, those living at The Residences have been isolated in their apartments for several weeks, and are not going to the dining room for communal meals.
During an April 9 briefing, Shah noted the Maine CDC shipped personal protective equipment to the facility on April 6. Another shipment, enough to provide PPE for 72 hours, was delivered to the facility April 9 with an additional delivery forthcoming.
“As we’ve learned more about the evolution of the number of cases there, our infection control team has been on the phone with Tall Pines giving them guidance on how to keep residents safe, our emergency preparedness team is continuing to work to supply the facility with additional PPE, and our team of epidemiologists is working with the facility to try to get a handle of who is infected, who is at-risk, and who should be tested,” said Shah, April 9.
In fact, the Maine CDC Director noted April 9 his agency is making the facility one of its top priorities.
“Right now, this is one of our top priorities across Maine CDC, across the entire team that is working on the COVID-19 response, and we wish everyone at the Tall Pines facility nothing but the best and we will continue to stand by you throughout this,” Shah said, April 9.
The facility announced on its Facebook page Tuesday, April 7, one resident and one employee had tested positive at The Commons, the Tall Pines nursing home facility.
In an email April 8, the facility confirmed both of those cases, as well as four new cases of one more employee and three more residents.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of this within our facility,” said Tall Pines Executive Director Matthew L. Griswold, in an April 8 email.
In the email, Griswold noted the facility is in close communication with local and state health officials, including the CDC, to ensure appropriate steps are taken.
“Our employees are diligently following the recommended preventative actions, we maintain constant staff and resident screening for any sign of symptoms, we have been restricting all visitors and non-essential staff from entering our facility and we have cancelled all group activities within the building,” Griswold said. “As challenging as these times are and as uncompromising as this virus is, I am extremely proud of the hard work, courage and compassion I have seen in my employees. It is because of their efforts that I am confident we will continue to do everything we can to keep our residents safe until this virus is eradicated from our community.”
In his April 10 briefing, Shah noted his team continues to work closely with the facility to maintain open lines of communication for any needs or requests the facility may have for the Maine CDC or Maine Department of Health and Human Services.