Main Street in downtown Calais. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The principal of Calais Elementary School, who organized a COVID-19 testing clinic last week, said Monday that four more positive cases have been detected among those tested, bringing the total associated with the school and the city’s recreation department up to seven.

Sue Carter arranged the clinic last week after finding out that some kids who participated in the final week of a city-run summer day camp program got sick and tested positive for the disease. Those same kids attend Calais Elementary School, she said, and she wanted to test dozens of other students who had attended the camp before classes were due to start on Sept. 1. The start of school was later delayed to Tuesday.

But, because of the shortage of free COVID testing in Washington County, there was no place in the area where that many people could get tested in just a couple of days.

With the help of three staffers from Calais Community Hospital and PCR tests sent by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 people were tested in the school cafeteria on Sept. 2. Then Carter drove the tests to Augusta to ensure they would be processed before Tuesday.

Of the roughly 60 students, along with close family members and others connected to the city’s rec department tested, four tested positive, Carter said. Those individuals will quarantine at home for several days before being allowed to return to school, she said. She said last week that three students had tested positive, but it was not clear Tuesday if the additional four positive test results were for students, relatives, or others.

Otherwise, she said Tuesday, “the first day of school went great.”

Robert Long, spokesperson for Maine CDC, said that as of Tuesday morning, the state had not opened an outbreak investigation into the city’s rec department or the elementary school. State officials define an outbreak as three or more related cases.

Mike Ellis, Calais’ city manager, on Tuesday commended Carter and the city’s rec department director, Craig Morrison, for conducting contact tracing and making sure people who had contact with the kids who got sick at the end of last month got tested quickly.

Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....