AUGUSTA, Maine — A top Maine Democrat’s positive COVID-19 test came a day after a Portland fundraiser that he attended along with other political insiders who are planning to be tested after possibly being exposed to the virus.
The office of Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, said he tested positive for the virus on Tuesday. The No. 2 Democrat in the chamber, Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic, announced she tested positive on Wednesday. Both were fully vaccinated and experiencing mild symptoms. Their offices were notifying close contacts of possible exposure.
The cases caused the two Democrats to become some of the most prominent Maine politicians to disclose a breakthrough COVID-19 case alongside U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who tested positive last month. But Senate Democrats did not answer questions about whether Jackson and Vitelli were close contacts as lobbyists and lawmakers planned to be tested after attending events with the Senate president.
Jackson attended an outdoor fundraiser held by Senate Democrats’ campaign arm on Monday at Maine Craft Distilling in Portland, while Vitelli did not, a lobbyist with knowledge of the event said. Proof of vaccination was required to attend, according to the invitation. That fundraiser came just after a nearby House Democratic event attended by some of the same people.
It is unclear whether any other attendees have tested positive for the virus, but the lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said people at their firm were being tested. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention declined comment on the situation during a Wednesday briefing. The Senate Democratic office and campaign arm did not return requests for comment.
The state is in the midst of a surge of COVID-19 cases, with the vast majority among unvaccinated people. But a relatively small share of breakthrough cases have occurred as more people get vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded substantial community transmission of COVID-19 in all 16 Maine counties.
Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor, who attended a Red Sox game last Wednesday alongside Jackson as a guest of former Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, said legislative staff and the campaign arm reached out to him after both events. The Red Sox event required people to wear masks on the bus and he said the legislative office called him prior to Jackson’s announcement and encouraged him to get tested.
“I think they just wanted to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.