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A senior residence in Auburn has become the latest long-term care facility in Maine to confirm an outbreak of the coronavirus after three employees and one resident tested positive.
Clover Health Care is now working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to test its staff and residents — around 550 people — for the infection, according to Maine CDC spokesperson Robert Long. The facility announced the outbreak on Facebook.
Of the four people so far confirmed to have the coronavirus, just one showed symptoms, according to Dr. Jabbar Fazeli, the medical adviser for Clover’s parent company, Continuum Healthcare.
After an employee complaining of muscle aches was tested midway through last week and the results came back positive, all other staff and residents who were exposed to that person were tested. That testing revealed two more employees had the virus even though they did not demonstrate any symptoms, according to Fazeli.
Since the Maine CDC considers an outbreak to involve three or more cases, that triggered universal testing of everyone associated with the facility, according to Long. It is now the state’s ninth nursing home with a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19.
So far, one resident who has shown no symptoms and who lives in a private room has also tested positive, the facility said on Facebook. “We are pleased to be taking the proactive step of performing a complete testing of our Clover community, as it will help us stay on top of this silent virus,” it said.
Fazeli — who also serves as the medical director for two other long-term care facilities in southern Maine — said that the case demonstrates why the state should loosen its guidelines for when nursing homes should test for the coronavirus.
To help preserve critical testing resources, those guidelines encourage facilities to test residents when they have a fever or respiratory problems.
But Fazeli — who serves as spokesperson for the Maine Medical Directors Association, a group that has devised its own targeted testing guidelines — has pushed for lesser cold and flu symptoms such as muscle aches to also trigger testing. By doing so, he said that facilities can make earlier discoveries of fast-spreading outbreaks.
Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, has said that the state plans to open up its testing guidelines for the virus at long-term care facilities Monday as a new partnership with IDEXX allows it to greatly expand daily testing. Two changes, he said, will be a recommendation that patients be tested when being discharged from a hospital to a long-term care facility and a program to randomly test long-term care facility residents and staff.
Watch: Should you remove loved ones from care facilities during the outbreak?