For the first five months of the coronovirus epidemic, COVID-19 spread to York County, as did the rest of the state. The southernmost county in Maine followed the state’s trend for new cases and daily numbers of active infections among its residents.
Then, a wedding took place on August 7, 200 miles to the north.
Less than two weeks later, York County outpaced neighboring Cumberland County – Maine’s most populous county, which has seen the state’s highest infection rate since the onset of the epidemic – in its daily rate of new cases , And has accelerated since that rate.
Home to 15 percent of Maine’s population, York County has accounted for more than 40 percent of the state’s new virus cases since mid-August. The county accounted for more than half of the state’s new cases for most of the previous week. While York County started August with 70 active cases among residents, the number more than doubled – 156 – compared to Thursday. It is home to six of the state’s 13 active outbreaks.
Six months after Maine detected its first case of coronovirus, the County of York is part of the state’s August 7 catastrophe-area marriage with the fastest-spreading virus that is now associated with 161 infections. About half of those infections have been recorded in York County, and most of the ripple effects of marriage are also being felt there, while the number of Katahdin-area cases has largely stabilized.
Some county county schools delayed the start of classes after issuing warnings by the state that person-instruction would no longer be completely safe there. In Sanford, the city council just passed an emergency ordinance requiring masks to be worn in public places, with the mayor sending a strict letter asking residents to take the virus seriously.
And at York Hospital’s various medical facilities, frontline workers are now always required to wear eye protection on top of other protective gear if they are inadvertently infecting a patient with COVID-19.
Overall, flare-ups have prompted concerns that the virus is spreading invisibly through the state’s southernmost counties, even as many outdoor state visitors arrive in the coastal area during the summer vacation season. Even after the important cases did not appear to run. .
“I think the concern is the number of outbreaks and whether they are related to each other or not,” said Dr. infectious disease specialist at York Hospital. Evangeline Thibodo said. “It seems as if some are interconnected.”
According to another “related” trend, she said some of the new outbreaks are tied to more “social” functions – including a wedding and funeral reception – rather than essential industries like nursing homes and factories where Maine Had seen the outbreak before.
With fears of a resurgence of the virus by health experts as children go back to school and cooler weather forces people to spend more time indoors, its recent foray into York County has necessitated established safety measures. Reminded who can slow down or stop. Circulation of COVID-19.
Masked people roam the city of Sanford, Maine on September 9, 2020 in York County. Credit: Robert Bucci / AP.
Those measures were apparently ignored at critical moments beginning on 7 August, to devastating effect. In addition to the cases in southern Maine, the marriage is also linked to the death of a woman in the 80s in the Millinocket area who did not attend the wedding, and in a secondary outbreak at the Maplest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison, where two other people Has died
While Maine is still doing “very well” containing the virus, “the only problem is that it is an outbreak arising from an irresponsible behavior,” Dr. Said Peter Millard, a former epidemiology staffer at the American Centers for Disorder Control and Prevention and an assistant professor with the University of New England. “This can be an important lesson for Maine: If you lower your guard, there are going to be more cases.”
For much of the spring and summer, Maine’s virus cases were most concentrated in Cumberland County, partly due to some large outbreaks at long-term care facilities, manufacturing plants and other locations around Portland.
According to CDC data, Cumberland County’s daily rate of new cases was twice the steady statewide rate from April to early July, while the York County rate nearly tracked the state’s status. (The daily rate is a seven-day rolling average of new cases per 10,000 people.)
But after Maine’s overall rate of new cases dropped mostly between June and early August, the two coastal counties essentially changed locations. Since the Aug. 7 wedding, Cumberland County’s daily average rate of new cases has fallen by more than half – from 0.2 new cases per 10,000 residents to about 0.1 on Thursday, Aug. 7 – while York County’s rate is more than four times Has gone big, from 0.13 to 0.58.
Health officials have recently detected a significant number of upcoming incidents on August 7 in East Millinket in York County – and some significant mistakes that began that day.
After the wedding, more than 60 guests packed into an inn on Millinket Lake for a reception at which they did not wear face masks or were seated at least six feet from each other, all at gatherings. Violated state restrictions. Sarai examined the temperature of the guests, but Maine CDC director Nirav Shah now thinks that COVID-19 has spread because some guests were already ill but are not showing symptoms yet.
Since then, at least two other institutions have also failed to follow established public health guidance.
The biggest of those failures may have occurred at the York County Jail, where a wedding guest was appointed. According to the state’s Department of Corrections, by the second week of August, screen personnel are neglected in prison for signs of the virus or require inmates to cover their faces. Despite the fact that respiratory infections can easily spread to living facilities such as prisons, where it is impossible for prisoners and officers to cover social distances.
Now, COVID-19 has infected at least 74 people associated with the prison: 48 prisoners, 18 employees and eight members of their families. Nine other family members are also suspected of having the disease, and the county has launched an investigation into whether the facility failed to follow its own public health protocol.
On a smaller scale, the pastor, who traveled to East Millinboard on March 7, continues the maskless service at Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford, where there is now a separate COVID-19 outbreak that infects at least 10 congregations Already happened. . The state is considering whether to approve the Sanford Church as Pastor Todd Bell continues to encourage churches not to wear masks.
The state has discovered at least three other small groups of COVID-19 in Sanford, including four cases related to the city’s fire department, four related to the funeral at US Legion Tive Coal Post 19, and three related to the private Laffet Club. Are included.
Authorities still have not determined whether those cases have anything to do with the outbreak of marriage, but regardless, they have related medical experts, as they suggest that the virus has been known to people beyond known outbreaks. The beach is traveling, a community known as transmission. It may also suggest that people associated with those outbreaks are not following the necessary protocols, such as quarantining, maintaining distance from others, and covering the face.
According to Thibodo, so far, York Hospital has not radically changed its operations in view of outbreaks spreading around the county. This is largely because the hospital has not seen an increase in the share of its COVID-19 tests that are coming positive, including for patients at the hospital’s outpatient clinic in Sanford.
Thibodo warned that no significant change was seen in the number of patients admitted or treated for hospitalization, but “this could change quickly”.
The only change for the hospital at this point is a new requirement that frontline workers wear a face shield or goggles in addition to their face masks and other gear, as those unknowingly infected with the virus may pass through the mucous membrane of a provider’s eye Huh. .
Thibodo said the new cases are a warning to hospital staff and the general public to “be very vigilant” about the practices they adopt in the early days of the epidemic, such as stringent handwashing and wearing masks. In addition, she said the hospital now knows more about how to handle the virus and more supplies of protective equipment.
“We are ready for growing cases,” she said. “We are prepared for small groups of outbreaks. We are a bit worried here and there.