LISBON — COVID-19 is on the rise in Lisbon, a town that has seen three COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days.

Outbreaks have occurred in schools and in the public works department.

Julie Colello-Nichols, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment at Lisbon School Department, said there had been five positive cases of COVID-19 at Lisbon High School as of Friday.

The high school was closed Monday and Tuesday so the building could be cleaned. Colello-Nichols said 87 students and 14 staff members must quarantine for 10 days.

High school students will start learning from home Wednesday. Next week, they are expected to return to a mix of in-person and remote learning.

In addition, there were three positive cases at Lisbon Community School as of Monday, affecting pre-kindergarten classes.

A morning and an afternoon pre-K class closed due to the outbreak. Three staff members and 25 students are quarantining at the elementary school. Those students will be able to return to school on Feb. 1, Colello-Nichols said.

Colello-Nichols said there are eight Lisbon Community School students quarantining.

The outbreak at Lisbon Community School is linked to the outbreak at the high school through siblings attending both schools.

Superintendent Richard Green said it is the first outbreak at the elementary school and the second at Lisbon High School since before the December break.

Lisbon School Department was one of few Midcoast school systems that fully reopened to in-person instruction in September 2020. That plan was derailed in December due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. Lisbon schools moved to a mix of in-person and online learning and temporarily switched high school students to remote-only learning until Jan. 11.

Staff are slated to get COVID-19 vaccines as part of the second phase of Maine’s vaccine distribution plan, though there’s no set timeframe. Last week, Maine started vaccinating people age 70 and over.

“There is guidance that says if you’ve had COVID in last 90 days or your second inoculation or vaccine shot, 14 days after that you’re not considered a close contact anymore who needs to quarantine so we should start seeing we have to quarantine less staff and students, which will increase the time we have for in-person learning for students,” Colello-Nichols said.

Colello-Nichols said schools are considered by the state to have a COVID-19 outbreak when they have three positive cases in three different families within a 14-day period.

COVID cases at public works

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention opened an investigation Monday into an outbreak at Lisbon Public Works when case investigators confirmed epidemiological links between three or more COVID cases, according to Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long.

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said during a briefing Tuesday that the investigation involves six cases.

“In the event of a workplace outbreak, our team works with the employer to ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to limit any further potential transmission,” Long said. “Unless otherwise stated, most workplace outbreaks are reflections of community transmission.”

Town Manager Diane Barnes said Tuesday that at least three employees had tested positive for COVID-19 and said two are currently quarantining.

“There have been no negative effects on our public works operations,” Barnes said. “The COVID-19 exposure was limited to public works employees and no other town employees have been affected by the outbreak.”

Barnes said everyone has recovered and returned to work except for the two employees that are quarantining. They are expected to return to work later this week.

COVID-19 cases have continued to increase in Lisbon. The Maine CDC reported 111 cases in Lisbon and 131 cases in Lisbon Falls as of Jan. 17. There had been 76 cases reported in Lisbon and 95 cases in Lisbon Falls as of Jan. 3. There had been 4,154 cumulative cases in Androscoggin County and 37,708 cases statewide as of Tuesday.

Maine reported 662 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths on Tuesday, the Portland Press Herald reported.


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