RUMFORD — Officials learned Thursday night that a town police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, Town Manager Stacy Carter announced Friday.

The Rumford Municipal Building was closed to the public Friday after it was learned Thursday that one of the town’s police officers tested positive for COVID-19. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

“That officer is self-quarantining, and Chief (Tony) Milligan is working with Occupational Health at Rumford Hospital to set up testing for the rest of the Police Department and possibly other town employees,” he said Friday.

The Occupational Health Department is essentially the medical providers for the Town of Rumford, Milligan said Friday evening.

Carter said the officer, a Rumford resident, was experiencing minor symptoms and was tested prior to leaving for a vacation out of state. Since testing positive, the officer was directed to quarantine until Sept. 5.

How he contracted the virus is under investigation, Carter said.

Meanwhile, everything in the building, including the Police Department and court, are shut down for a deep cleaning. “We hope to learn more today once we meet with health officials,” he said.

Milligan has been in touch with the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office, state police and Mexico police about mutual aid, and officers have been directed to wear masks and observe social distancing.

“We’re trying to get this done as quickly as possible, Carter said. “As I learn more, I’ll be updating our webpage (rumfordme.org), as well as the town’s Facebook page.”

For now, he said, “The lobby of the Town Office will be open and we’ll be doing business through our drop box, phone and email.”

As the investigation progresses, appropriate notifications will be made to employees, community members and others who may have been exposed. A person is considered to have been exposed if they had unmasked contact with someone less than 6 feet from them for more than 15 minutes.

The the next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 3 will probably be conducted via Zoom until the town gets the other COVID-19 test results.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get the tests back,” Carter said.

Town officials are in contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which might be a faster route for test results, he said. “We don’t know. We’re still waiting for those answers,” he said.

In a news release Friday afternoon, Carter said, “We have been preparing for this possibility and are working collaboratively with our partners at Rumford Hospital and the CDC to provide additional information to all of our employees regarding this development. I want to assure our community that we have this under control and that there is no cause for panic.”

He said this development should not deter the public from calling 911 for emergency assistance.

“Rumford police and fire departments continue to take extensive precautions to safeguard community members and other emergency personnel,” he said.

Carter said additional precautionary steps have been taken by reducing contact with office personnel until they receive initial test results. Meanwhile, the town’s public health efforts will continue to focus on containing the spread and mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in the community, he said.


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