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A growing number of people connected to a Belfast retirement community have tested positive for the coronavirus, and another outbreak has been detected at a rehabilitation facility in Augusta, state officials said Friday afternoon.
The total number of confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 22 at Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Community in Belfast, with 19 residents and three workers testing positive for it, said Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty-three people affiliated with the facility have tested negative.
There have also been four cases of the virus detected among residents at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation, Shah said. The Augusta facility offers both short-term rehabilitative care and long-term nursing care, according to its website.
“We continue to follow the guidance and directives of state and federal officials,” Genevieve Worthington, a spokesperson for the facility’s parent group, National Health Care Associates, said in an emailed statement. “No further comments.”
State officials have delivered emergency supplies of protective equipment to both facilities.
The outbreaks show how retirement communities and nursing homes are especially vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks, with older people at higher risk for complications from the virus living in close quarters.
State investigators still have not determined how the virus made it into Tall Pines, Shah said. But from federal research into the outbreaks at other long-term care facilities, he said, “the two most likely candidates are either a visitor, or in some cases, an employee who brought it in, even if that employee or visitor was not showing symptoms.”
“We may never know, but our disease detectives are working on that right now,” he added.
Shah said that all staff and residents of the retirement community have been offered tests for the virus, but not all the results have come in. He also said that Tall Pines has been complying with Maine CDC’s guidelines for responding to the outbreak.
The facility, which has 64 residents in two facilities, has been closed to visitors in recent weeks.
Executive Director Matthew Griswold said late Thursday that the facility is constantly screening staff and residents for signs of coronavirus symptoms and barring nonessential staff from entering the facility. It has also canceled all group activities.
BDN writer Abigail Curtis contributed to this report.
Watch: Nirav Shah talks about the situation at Tall Pines