St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Residence, a nursing home in Portland, is responding to a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 34 residents and 32 employees since May 14.

Of those who have been infected, 14 residents and three employees remained COVID-positive Thursday afternoon, St. Joseph’s spokesman John Porter said.

Visits to the 121-bed facility on Washington Avenue are currently restricted. Testing of staff occurs daily, and the residents are tested every other day.

St. Joseph’s, a subsidiary of Maine Medical Center and part of the MaineHealth system, provides long-term nursing, hospice care, and rehabilitation, among other health services.

“We recognize that news of an outbreak is concerning to the families of patients in our care, and we have contacted family members whose loved ones are affected,” said Porter. “St. Joseph’s has followed all of its COVID-19 protocols to reduce the spread of disease, including requiring COVID-positive staff members to isolate at home for 10 days.”

Overall, COVID-19 infection levels remain low in Maine, continuing a long plateau since April. The rates are far lower than during the worst days of the pandemic – before vaccines became widely available in 2021, and after the omicron surge later that year and into early 2022. Scientists credit the decline to the high vaccination rate in Maine, plus natural immunity from the virus circulating in the population since the state’s first case was recorded in March 2020.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has been reporting between 45 and 70 COVID patients hospitalized statewide since mid-April, far fewer than the hundreds treated daily in Maine hospitals during previous spikes. Those numbers peaked at 436 patients on Jan. 13, 2022, straining resources and delaying care for other patients during the initial omicron variant surge. The most recent peak was 187 COVID-19 patients on March 3.

Deaths from COVID-19 are also low, with the Maine CDC reporting either one or zero per day since April 18. Wastewater surveillance testing, which can detect early signs of a COVID-19 spike, has shown very low levels of the virus through May in water districts that include Portland, Yarmouth, Lewiston-Auburn, Bangor, Brunswick, Augusta, Sanford and other communities.

Since the pandemic began, Maine has logged 323,704 cases of COVID-19, with 3,057 deaths.

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