Maine reported 32 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 15 cases in York County, which continues to be a hotspot for infections.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported no new deaths, but public health workers are currently responding to six outbreaks in York County. In Cumberland County, the most populous county in Maine, five new cases were reported.

Because of the virus trends, York County remains in the “yellow” designation for school reopenings in an updated advisory issued by the Maine Department of Education on Friday. All other counties are in the “green” category.

The department reassesses the color designation for each county every two weeks.

The yellow designation “suggests that that the county has an elevated risk of COVID-19 spread and that schools may consider hybrid instructional models as a way to reduce the number of people in schools and classrooms at any one time,” the Department of Education said. Counties in the “green” category are given the go-ahead for more in-person learning, although most school districts in Maine have adopted a hybrid model.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, has said that several COVID-19 trends are going the wrong direction in York County, including cases per capita and the percentage of tests that have come back positive, both of which are much higher than the rest of the state. For instance, there are about eight new daily cases per every 10,000 population in York County, compared to the statewide average of 2.66 per 10,000.

For York County, spikes in COVID-19 are having far-ranging repercussions, including delaying the start of school in some towns and canceling all fall sports practices for high school athletics as the rest of the state resumes practicing and planning for the season.

The Maine Principals’ Association this week gave the green light for fall sports, other than football and volleyball, everywhere but in York County. In York County, high school athletics can’t start until the state designates the county “green” instead of the current “yellow” designation.

In Sanford, which is dealing with outbreaks at the Calvary Baptist Church, the American Legion, the Lafayette Club and the fire department, the City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance Thursday night. The measure requires people to wear face coverings in all public settings where social distancing is not possible and in stores, restaurants, bars, tasting rooms and lodging operations regardless of their size. Violation carries a minimum fine of $100, and the ordinance will be enforced by local police.

Statewide executive orders require masks in indoor public places and outdoors if physical distancing is difficult. Owners and operators of buildings are required to enforce the mandate.

Also on Friday, two employees at Shaw’s supermarket in Sanford tested positive for COVID-19, the chain’s parent company said.

One employee last worked Sept. 6, is receiving medical care and is in quarantine at home, according to an emailed statement from Andrew Whelan, senior director of corporate communications for Albertsons, Shaw’s parent.

The other employee last worked on Aug. 24 and has left the company.

The company says other employees may be asked to self-quarantine.

The largest outbreak to date in Maine stems from an Aug. 7 wedding and reception in the Millinocket area that is now linked to 161 cases, an outbreak at the York County Jail, and three deaths. The pastor officiating the wedding, Todd Bell, is the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford. The Maine CDC has not linked the outbreak at the church to the wedding.

Statewide, the seven-day average of daily new cases stood at 24.1 on Friday, down from 29.1 on Sept. 4. Currently, 10 people are hospitalized for COVID-19, with six in intensive care. Since the pandemic began, there have been 4,792 cases of COVID-19 and 134 deaths.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.