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A resident and a worker at a Belfast retirement community have both tested positive for the coronavirus.
The positive tests were announced Monday afternoon on the Facebook page of Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Community.
The center is now working with state officials to test “higher risk residents” for the virus and placing workers “who have been at a higher risk of exposure on temporary leave,” it said. “We will take other precautions and give further updates as this situation evolves.”
“At this point, I don’t believe any other residents are showing symptoms,” said Mary Jane Richards, chief operating officer of North County Associates, the Maine-based company that manages Tall Pines.
Richards declined to comment on the health of the resident who tested positive for the virus, but said that “she stuck to her room. Hopefully that will limit exposure to other residents and staff.”
It was also not clear how the resident became infected, according to Richards, but she said that state health officials will “try to investigate” how the virus entered the Belfast facility “to prevent it from happening again.”
Tall Pines includes 30 apartments for seniors as well as a number of community spaces, according to its Facebook page. Some of the residents live independently, while others receive assistance and nursing from staff.
In Maine, the coronavirus has spread through at least one other senior living community. At least six cases of it have been reported at OceanView at Falmouth.
With older people living in close quarters, retirement communities and nursing homes have become especially vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks, and they have largely closed to outside visitors. Their older residents are at higher risk for developing serious complications from coronavirus infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Richards said that staff of Tall Pines have been following the guidance from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention about how to safely take care of residents while limiting the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Under the latest guidance, staff must wear protective masks at all times as long as the facility has an adequate supply of them, according to Richards. If a resident was suspected of having the virus, staff would also don additional protective clothing including a gown and gloves.
“Sometimes residents ask to wear masks,” Richards said. “It’s really to protect the staff and residents from any further transmissions of the virus.”
However, while Tall Pines currently has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, Richards hopes that state emergency management officials will “keep that supplemented with additional protective equipment.”