DEER ISLE — The Army National Guard is coming to disinfect the Island Nursing Home, which since last Wednesday has seen its number of COVID-19 positive residents soar, according to information presented in a meeting Sunday that was convened by Hancock County Emergency Management Agency Director Andrew Sankey.
A number of island officials and residents attended including Island Nursing Home Executive Director Matthew Trombley, Deer Isle Town Manager Jim Fisher, Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings, Union 76 School Superintendent Christian Elkington and Alfred May, district representative for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of COVID-19 cases have jumped in the past few days.
On Nov. 25, there were three nursing home residents and two staff members that had tested positive for COVID-19.
The following day, on Thanksgiving, INH was notified that there were 21 residents with COVID and two more staff members, said Trombley.
By Sunday, that number had risen to 35 residents and 10 staff members with the virus.
Trombley said residents were doing well. Most who are sick have a “slight cough” and a fever of around 101 degrees. There are a few residents in the home’s skilled nursing section who are having nausea and vomiting, the director said.
One resident has been hospitalized. Another resident passed away Saturday evening, but Trombley said he could not attribute the cause of death just yet.
The nursing home has a total of 61 residents, so more than half are sick. INH is also one of the island’s largest employers with approximately 85 employees. Not all of those employees work full time, however. Some are part-time and work elsewhere as well, which is facilitating the spread of the disease.
“We have staff refusing to come in” because of COVID, Trombley said. “There are a small number of direct care staff that are positive. We are very critical on staffing. So we’re working with national guard on disinfection.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the island and nearby, Elkington closed all schools Monday in Union 76.
The Stonington town office has closed temporarily because one of the office staff members works in a pod with someone who works at the nursing home. Billings is working from home while quarantining.
Superintendent Mark Hurvitt closed all schools Monday in Union 93.
“I didn’t feel we could open school with our heads in the sand,” Hurvitt said. “We need to pick through all the issues. There are tentacles that lead [from the island] to other schools.”
Also, there is a COVID-19 positive person associated with the Brooksville Elementary School. Hurvitt declined to say whether the person was a student or staff member.
Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital and Blue Hill Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer John Ronan spoke during the meeting Sunday about the hospital’s efforts to help the nursing home with staffing and supplies.