The COVID-19 pandemic, which is surging in Maine and across the country, is now impacting  a small, rural police department near Portland.

The Buxton Police Department announced it is down two full-time officers after one tested positive and a second tested probable for the highly contagious virus. Both officers have been placed in quarantine. The department became aware of the situation on Saturday.

Police Chief Troy Cline said in a press release that the police officer who tested positive is experiencing minor symptoms. The second officer is considered probable for COVID-19 pending further testing.

Cline did not explain how the officers became infected, but federal guidelines recommend that a person who has had close contact with a positive case quarantine for 14 days.

“Chief Cline and the teams at the Buxton Police Department would like to reassure the public that officers will be available to respond to emergency calls as necessary and measures are in place to call on additional assistance from neighboring agencies if necessary,” the press release said.

The police station and all its vehicles have undergone a deep cleaning in accordance with recommendations from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. All staff members, both sworn and civilian, have undergone COVID-19 testing, Cline said.

Out of an abundance of caution aimed at keeping the public and staff safe, all personnel associated with the Buxton Police Department will be wearing additional personal protective equipment and taking extra safety precautions.

The coronavirus cases in Buxton are not the first to hit Maine’s first responders. Just last month. a Scarborough firefighter tested positive for COVID-19, and in August the Sanford Fire Department reported an outbreak that resulted in three firefighters testing positive.

Scarborough responded by testing the 60 employees who work at the fire department, according to an Oct. 6 post on its Facebook page.

After the announcement of the outbreak in Sanford, the union representing firefighters urged the Maine CDC to expedite test results after some members of the department waited more than three days for test results.

Yarmouth Fire Chief Mike Robitaille tested positive for COVID-19 a week ago after registering a 100.4-degree fever. Robitaille was quarantined at home, as were those who had direct contact with him. He authorized the department to share his personal medical information, and encouraged those who believe they had contact with him and have symptoms to get tested.

There is a strong chance a COVID-19 vaccine will become available next month. The state’s massive rollout plan calls for vaccinating front-line health care workers, first responders and nursing home residents first.


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