WINTHROP — Hannaford distribution center ADUSA Distribution LLC is the subject of an outbreak investigation by the Maine Center for Disease Control, which involves 21 cases of COVID-19.

During a Monday media briefing, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention, announced that 21 cases of COVID-19 have been reported at the Winthrop facility as part of that outbreak. He said the outbreak is likely a product of “community transmission that can and has been occurring in and around that area.”

“Given that there are a total of 21 cases, Maine CDC is taking a hard look at this to make sure we are providing the facility everything they need in order to reduce the likelihood of transmission beginning or continuing to occur within the four walls of the facility,” Shah said.

Shah identified the distribution center as one of nine that distribute to Hannaford locations in Maine. The Winthrop location is at 1245 U.S. Route 202.

Erin DeWaters, spokesperson for ADUSA’s and Hannaford’s parent company Ahold Delhaize USA, said the 21-case number is a representation of how many employees have contracted COVID-19 since March, and 14 employees of the location’s 350 employees are currently out of work with COVID-19.

DeWaters said that contact tracing has shown that the infected employees have contracted the disease outside of work.

CDC spokesperson Robert Long said Maine is experiencing “widespread community transmission” currently and a workplace outbreak like ADUSA is “likely an indication of transmission in communities where employees live, work or travel.”

“This is different from outbreak investigations at congregate living settings or at workplaces earlier in the pandemic,” he said, “when the common location among people with the virus more likely correlates to transmission.”

Long said a CDC outbreak investigator is providing guidance to ADUSA officials on how to limit transmission, isolate workers who test positive and quarantine workers who were in close contact with workers that tested positive.

He said that medical research has indicated that COVID-19 is not transmitted through food and very rarely transmitted through surface contact,” so there is minimal risk to people who purchased products distributed by ADUSA.

“The primary means of virus transmission is from person to person via respiratory droplets,” Long said, “so it’s far more likely that a shopper would get the virus from another person in the store than from anything purchased.”

Ericka Dodge, external communications manager for Hannaford, said that there is “no indication that there has been transmission” at Hannaford stores related to the outbreak.

DeWaters said that there is no anticipated impact on distribution to Hannaford’s stores that use the Winthrop distribution center.

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