COVID-19 cases disrupt programs

ELLSWORTH — Recent COVID-19 cases have wielded an effect on local organizations, with the close contacts of those testing positive for the coronavirus placed under quarantine guidelines.

A Down East Family YMCA Discovery Camp junior staff member tested positive last week, with a second related case reported on Aug. 31, resulting in 92 campers quarantining until Sept. 7, including 79 first through seventh graders in Ellsworth.

“Due to the transportation component and the natural cross paths that happen at camp, we could not say with 100 percent confidence who wasn’t a close contact,” DEFY Executive Director Peter Farragher said. “That is why we are classifying all who attended [camp as close contacts].” He noted “a few more” positive cases have been reported since the camp closed.

Ellsworth Superintendent Dan Higgins notified parents on Aug. 31 that students who attended the camp on Aug. 24-26 could not attend school until Sept. 7 and postponed an open house for pre-K and grades 1-4 at EEMS.

An outbreak last week at Seaport Village found five staff members and three residents positive for COVID-19, closing the assisted living facility to visitors. However, Human Resources and Business Manager Elizabeth Parker said on Sept. 1 that no other positive cases had been identified. “Some have symptoms but to my knowledge none are at the hospital,” Parker said.

And a positive case at the Emmaus Homeless Center has closed the downtown shelter to visitors and new placements, Executive Director Tracey Hair said. However, testing of staff and residents have not found additional cases, “so the masks have been working,” Hair said.

The shelter will re-open to the public, and to take in new residents, once Maine Center for Disease Control has cleared the facility next week, Hair said. While emergency shelter is available at H.O.M.E. Inc. in Orland, Hair said, with families applying for emergency shelter, she and staff have been finding alternative locations, such as hotels. All individuals are tested upon intake, she noted.

“The only challenge we have right now is that test kits are getting hard to come by,” she said.

A few local businesses have also reported positive cases or close contact with a positive case among staff members, temporarily closing their doors. The Maine CDC reported on Aug. 31 there were 21 probable and 21 confirmed cases in Hancock County, with one person hospitalized, up from 18 confirmed and 6 probable one day earlier. The positive case rate for Hancock County that day was 304 cases per 10,000 people.

Anne Berleant

Anne Berleant

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Anne Berleant covers news and features in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking local trails, reading or watching professional tennis. Email her at [email protected]
Anne Berleant

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