June 04, 2020
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Maine DHHS office in Lewiston closing again after 2nd confirmed coronavirus case

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew takes a question at a news conference in the State House, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Augusta, Maine.

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AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine Department of Health and Human Services office in Lewiston is closing again after a second employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Wednesday.

The office closed on March 25 after one employee tested positive for the virus and reopened on Monday. The office was “cleaned and sanitized” following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, according to department spokesperson Jackie Farwell, who said that only a quarter of the office’s staff were in the building prior to last week’s closure.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

In an email to employees on Wednesday, Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the second employee who tested positive last worked at the Lewiston office “several days” before its closure last week. She said the employee did not visit homes or significantly interact with the public.

Lewiston DHHS employees, who worked from home for several days when the office closed for the first time, were notified by the Maine Service Employees Association, the union representing more than 12,000 state employees, that two other workers were being tested for the virus.

Roughly 70 percent of Maine state employees, excluding emergency and public safety personnel, are working remotely, according to Maine’s budget department. The employees union has called for the governor to send home employees who are considered nonessential.

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