Fire trucks leave Central Fire Station on Bates Street in Lewiston as they respond to a call Monday afternoon. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — COVID-19 outbreaks continue to turn up in Lewiston-Auburn, with seven cases among firefighters at the Lewiston Fire Department and three among staff members at Clover Health Care in Auburn.

Clover runs a preschool, nursing home and independent living center, among other services. The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention was working Monday to determine where the staff members worked.

The outbreak at Russell Park Rehabilitation & Living Center in Lewiston remained unchanged Monday, with 129 cases, or two-thirds of its residents and more than half its staff. More test results are expected this week.

Officials at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston have been tracking the possible exposure of employees who had close contact with Russell Park employees who have the virus. Those CMMC employees are in quarantine for 14 days, according to hospital officials.

CMMC has increased its virus prevention measures in the wake of the Russell Park outbreak, including requiring all patients wear masks in their rooms when a caregiver is present.

The hospital is also requiring additional precautions for patients admitted from long-term care facilities that are dealing with outbreaks, even if those patients test negative.

CMMC experienced its own COVID-19 outbreak in July and August after a nursing home patient was admitted and initially tested negative.

Outbreaks at Lewiston and Edward Little High schools also remained unchanged Monday, with one student and two staff members testing positive at Lewiston and two students and one staff member testing positive at Edward Little in Auburn. Both schools have temporarily closed and students are learning remotely.

In his regular Monday press briefing, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said his organization had opened 14 outbreak investigations across the state over the past 72 hours. He called that “significant.”

“There’s a direct link between community transmission, gathering in households and the eventual emergence of an outbreak,” Shah said. “As we talked about, what we’ve been seeing for weeks now is that the ground has been seeded with ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and we’re now starting to see patches in the form outbreaks emerge all across the state. Sadly, that trend is one that may continue.”

The Lewiston Fire Department was not included in the CDC’s 14-weekend outbreak investigations because it had not yet met the criteria of three or more cases.

Lewiston Deputy City Administrator Dale Doughty said one firefighter tested positive for the virus earlier this month, after serving as part of an eight-person crew on Halloween.

Doughty said the firefighter is believed to contracted the virus while working another job. Others on that crew have recently tested positive, as have other firefighters in the department.

All seven have been off the job and in quarantine, Doughty said.

The state reported 175 new cases Monday, the seventh-day case counts have exceeded 100. New cases were reported in every county, except Piscataquis and Waldo.

On Monday, Shah did not list every outbreak the Maine CDC is investigating. There are too many.

“We’re getting to the point where there are going to be cases everywhere,” he said. “This is going to be happening everywhere, so the notion that a couple of cases somewhere is going to be noteworthy — it’s happening across the state. The pot is starting to boil over and the bubbles are coming up everywhere.”

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