PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A wave of coronavirus cases that hit Maine after a wedding is a case study in why it’s important to avoid gathering amid the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report about the deadly outbreak.
The outbreak, based around an August wedding and reception in the Millinocket area, killed at least seven people and sickened at least 177. The CDC’s report, issued Friday, stated that an investigation into the wedding showed noncompliance with standard procedures to slow the spread of the virus.
The CDC reported that Maine health authorities “likely undercounted cases of illness that were linked to the event, and the attack rate for the reception guests is thus a conservative estimate.” It also stated that none of the people who were hospitalized or killed in the outbreak were guests at the wedding reception.
The CDC said the toll of the outbreak underscores “the importance of adhering to recommended mitigation measures even in communities where transmission rates are low.”
The report was produced by staff of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and published by the federal agency.
In other news related to the pandemic in Maine:
Visitors to and from Massachusetts are no longer exempt from Maine’s travel restrictions, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills said Friday.
Maine requires most visitors from out of state to quarantine for two weeks or produce a negative COVID-19 test. Mills said she’s concerned about the potential spread of the virus due to holiday travel.
Maine previously rescinded exemptions to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Travelers from New Hampshire and Vermont remain exempt.
“I recognize this will be an inconvenience for many, but it is in the interest of public health and can keep people, including our loved ones, healthy and safe this holiday season,” Mills said.
The number of new coronavirus cases in Maine continued to climb. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 104.6, an increase of 181.6%, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins.
The state has had more than 8,600 reported cases of the virus. The state also reported three more deaths on Friday, bringing that total to 162.
The latest average positivity rate in Maine is 1.2%. State health departments are calculating positivity rate differently across the country, but for Maine the AP calculates the rate by dividing new cases by 725,560, which is the total test units, using data from the COVID Tracking Project.
State officials announced Friday that another county has entered the “yellow,” or intermediate, level in Maine’s color-coded school health advisory system. Androscoggin County joins four others in the intermediate level. Schools in the category are advised to consider additional precautions, such as limiting the number of people in school buildings at the same time.
HEALTH DEPARTMENT CASE
Maine’s state health department has closed an office in the state’s largest city because an employee has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said its district office in Portland will reopen as soon as possible. The agency was informed of the positive test on Thursday morning and notified employees who work at the facility, the agency said in a statement.
The individual who tested positive is isolating and was last in the office on Nov. 9, the health department said. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is working to identify close contacts of the individual.
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