As of 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14, three Maine residents have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
The city of Portland said Friday it would close City Hall and all other city buildings after a municipal employee became the second Mainer to presumptively test positive for the new coronavirus. Another 30 people who came into contact with the worker have been quarantined.
The most recent case makes two presumptive positive cases of the new coronavirus so far, according to officials. The Portland employee is from Cumberland County and is in his 50s. He was screened at a MaineHealth clinic in Portland and is in isolation at his home, health officials said.
The man works at the India Street Public Health Center, a city-run clinic that will close alongside City Hall and all other city buildings for two weeks, Portland officials said on Friday. City Hall closed Friday at 3 p.m. It will be cleaned on Monday and be closed to external visitors. Employees who can work from home will do so. Portland City Manager Jon Jennings said 23 employees and seven volunteers who came into contact with the man are self-quarantined.
The state announced its first presumed positive test on Thursday, which belonged to a Navy reservist in her 50s from Androscoggin County. She had traveled to Italy, where the virus is widespread, on a Navy training mission. The Maine CDC said that woman is in self-isolation, while the Navy announced that others who contacted her are also self-isolating at home.
At a news conference on Friday, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah on Friday called the woman a “model citizen” who acted quickly as soon as she arrived back in Maine. Dora Mills, MaineHealth’s community health director, said it does not appear as if the virus has reached a “community spread” status, meaning one in which the virus would transmit between people who did not visit a location where the virus is widespread or have contact with an infected person.
On Friday morning, the Maine CDC said a third person — a woman in her 20s who was hospitalized at Maine Medical Center in Portland — had presumptively tested positive for the virus on a preliminary basis. At a 1 p.m. news conference, Shah said that finding was still under review and that was why it was not among the other two presumptive positive cases.
The state had tested around 20 people for the virus last week. As of 11:15 a.m. Friday, Maine had 91 people with negative tests and 17 people waiting for results, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Maine’s presumed positive tests will be sent to federal labs to confirm their status, the state said.
Shah said the state anticipates it will need to up its testing ability, noting Maine CDC has a single testing kit which allows it to conduct up to 1,000 cases. The state has conducted over 90 tests that have come back negative and is awaiting the results of 17 tests, he said.
The new case came a day after the Democratic governor recommended halting social gatherings of more than 250 people, barred non-essential out-of-state travel by state employees and declared an emergency aimed at forcing insurers to cover testing costs. The Legislature has also taken steps, banning public tours and closing the galleries of the House chambers.
The federal CDC reported more than 1,600 cases of the new virus in the U.S. as of Friday in 46 states and the District of Columbia. There have been 41 deaths from the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath that can lead to pneumonia. The virus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
BDN writers Nick Schroeder and Michael Shepherd contributed to this report.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease