The state has begun investigating several new coronavirus outbreaks at various locations in central and midcoast Maine, including at a charter school in Somerset County that has had at least 13 confirmed cases.
At the Community Regional Charter School, which has locations in Cornville and Skowhegan, nine teachers and four students have tested positive, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah.
The state is now investigating how the virus may have spread through the facility and to what extent its workers were using protective equipment such as face coverings. There have been other workplace outbreaks in which employees wore face coverings when they were around members of the public, but lowered them when they were congregating with each other in a break room or cafeteria.
“We saw that at an outbreak in a hospital earlier in the summer,” Shah said during a news conference. “That’s another hypothesis that we’re asking about and gathering facts and data about at this time.”
On Wednesday evening, the school’s executive director, Travis Works, said in a Facebook post that it found its first case on Sunday. The school is now closed for two weeks after people from all three of its buildings were found to have confirmed or possible cases.
“Overwhelmingly the cases are adults and not learners, which indicates that we have been able to keep our learners safe and limit the exposure and risk level to those learners that we serve,” Works said.
Additionally, the state is now investigating two COVID-19 outbreaks in Augusta, including at a state government building where four staff have been infected and at the Kids Count Child Care center, where another four cases have been identified.
Along the coast, a half dozen cases of the virus have been connected to a Rockland biotech firm called Lonza, and another four have been tied to BEK, Inc., an information technology services company in Brunswick.
Shah also warned that a referee who recently officiated eight hockey games in southern Maine and New Hampshire has tested positive for COVID-19, and he advised players and families who had been to those games to consider themselves close contacts. That means they are advised to quarantine for two weeks and possibly seek testing.
On Oct. 3, the ref officiated games at 8:35 a.m. and 10:05 a.m. at Biddeford Ice Arena and at 5:45 p.m. at Merrill Fay Arena in Laconia.
On Oct. 4, the ref officiated games at 7:45 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Biddeford Ice Arena and from 6:30 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. at North Yarmouth Academy.
Sixteen percent of the state’s recently discovered COVID-19 cases have been in Kennebec County, according to Shah. Cumberland and York counties each accounted for about a quarter of the state’s cases during the same period.