Maine CDC Director describes ‘epidemiological milestone’ at Belfast’s Tall Pines

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 2:15pm

    BELFAST — During his May 12 press briefing about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah addressed the outbreak of COVID-19 at the Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Community in Belfast. 

    “Yesterday, we hit something of an epidemiological milestone,” Shah said of the Belfast facility’s outbreak. “The outbreak at Tall Pines was originally opened on April 8. Yesterday — actually, now today — it has now been 18 days since the last individual there had their onset of symptoms and had a positive test.” 

    The period of 18 days, Shah noted, is “well beyond” the typical incubation period of 16 days the Maine CDC uses. 

    Since the outbreak began at the facility, 32 residents and 11 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, 13 residents of the facility have passed, accounting for all but one of Waldo County’s COVID-19 deaths. 

    The last Tall Pines staff member in isolation was released Monday, Shah noted. 

    “Overall, this outbreak was quite significant and sad for all of us who work in public health and healthcare across the state,” Shah said. “To say nothing of the family members and staff themselves who were affected by it.” 

    The positive cases were 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.

    “We hope that these positive trends continue and that there are no new cases that are reported; however, Maine CDC continues its engagement with Tall Pines and we continue to look for the possibility of new cases,” said Shah. “This epidemiological milestone suggests that coupled with quick action, the best scientific public health advice available can help bring a difficult outbreak situation to one that can be resolved.” 

    Visitation is still not allowed, Shah later said during a question-and-answer period with members of the media, and the Maine CDC continues to work with the facility to ensure they maintain the proper protocols and safety procedures so a second wave of an outbreak does not occur.