The ‘uninvited guest’ of COVID-19 increases presence in state

UPDATE: Maine CDC investigates COVID-19 cases at Rockland memory care facility, continues focus on Waldo County outbreak

Statewide increase puts to rest: ‘It can’t happen here. Because right now, it is happening here’
Tue, 10/27/2020 - 2:15pm

    AUGUSTA — Ten cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at the Woodlands Memory Care facility on Camden Street in Rockland, and the Maine CDC has opened an investigation there.

    “We strongly expect that there will additional cases in the coming days as that facility as the facility conducts and receives results of universal testing,” said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah. “We are very concerned about this outbreak at this particular facility based on our experience of working with another memory care facility earlier this summer.”

    The residents at these facilities are “particularly vulnerable,” said Shah, during his Oct. 27 scheduled briefing.

    Woodlands is owned by the Maine-based company Woodlands Senior Living, a family-owned senior care organization. According to the facility’s website, Woodlands Memory Care “is a modern senior living community that has been specially designed to meet the unique needs of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other memory impairments.”

    The facility has 38 beds in private and shared rooms.

    Attempts to reach a facility director have yet to be successful.

    “We sadly expect more cases,” said Shah, at the briefing.

    The CDC is continuing its investigation of the Waldo County outbreak, which caused 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 34 cases are considered primary, meaning the the afflicted attended a fellowship or church service. The other 26 cases are considered secondary, meaning that each of them had come into direct, close and sustained contact with a primary case.

    That outbreak originated with the Brooks Church, at a fellowship and worship services.

    Shah said the CDC is investigating whether the Waldo County outbreak is connected to Woodlands. At this time, he said, there is no connection, but it remains under investigation.

    “It is possible we may identify linkages among those cases,” he said.

    As of Oct. 27, there have been 6,311 cases of COVID-19 across the state, both probable and confirmed; of those cases, 57 have been added since Oct. 26.

    Over the past 30 days, 29 have been hospitalized; right now, 12 are in the hospital, seven are in the ICU; none are on ventilators, Shah reported.

    The state lists a breakdown of the number of COVID-19 cases per town. Access that data here.

    Since the pandemic has found footing in Maine, 1,136 health care workers have tested positive for the virus.

    As of Oct. 26 and of the 57 new cases, approximately 24 percent cases were in Cumberland; 23 percent in Kennebec County; and 21 percent in York County.

    “What’s concerning is that we are also seeing cases in other parts of the state that previously had few cases,” said Shah.

    That includes Washington County, which now reports 48 cumulative cases of COVID-19; 32 of those 48 cases occurred in this month alone, he said.

    The Second Baptist Church in Calais has reported four cases, “thus far,” said Shah, and the CDC has opened an investigation there.

    Shah emphasized at his Oct. 27 briefing that, “the horse is getting further and further away from the barn.”

    With the concerning signs, he stressed the importance of wearing masks, maintaining at least a six-foot distance from others, and being careful in all situations. Shah warned that community and household transmission has increased in every corner of the state.

    Dr. Shah said the rise in the number of cases is “concerning.”

    “We are in it now,” he said.

    This puts to rest that: “It can’t happen here. Because right now, it is happening here.”

    Almost every day, “we see new cases in every county,” he said.

    Community transmissions, he added, are harder to tamp down.

    “The uninvited guest is in multiple homes,” he said.

    Reach Editorial Director Lynda Clancy at; 207-706-6657