Just one additional person has tested positive for the coronavirus in connection with an outbreak related to ambulance crews in the Houlton area after 301 community members were tested, according to state health officials.
Nine other people previously tested positive in what was Aroostook County’s first known outbreak. Four of them were ambulance workers and a fifth was a firefighter. Before then, the County had reported just 11 positive cases during the pandemic.
The outbreak was discovered after a patient who had been transported by two different Houlton ambulance crews tested positive for the virus at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center on June 14. The patient was not showing symptoms of the virus at the time of testing.
Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced the results of the widespread testing on Friday afternoon and said that it was “a reminder that the virus can travel wherever people can travel. No part of the state is immune from the possibility of having COVID-19.”
He also commended Houlton Regional Hospital for quickly helping to offer testing for 301 people in the region. Health officials sought to test anyone who had been in contact with members of the town’s ambulance service since June 8.
“This is good news,” Shah said of the discovery of just one additional positive case. “Thanks to the entire team at the hospital. In a matter of about 36 hours, they went from hearing what was going on to being ready, willing and able to stand up this community-wide testing site in the parking lot of their hospital.”
“This could have been a lot worse and it wasn’t,” said Gov. Janet Mills during the same news briefing.