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Knox County case erased for patient's out-of-state residence

COVID-19 cases rise to 52 in Maine

By Stephen Betts | Mar 19, 2020
Dr. Nirav Shaw, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Augusta — The number of COVID-19 cases in Maine rose to 52, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced late Thursday morning.

Dr. Nirav Shah reported at his daily media briefing March 19 that this was an increase of 10 cases from Wednesday. Four people remain hospitalized, one person recovered and 2,004 tests have shown no virus.

No additional positive or presumptive positive cases were reported for Knox County by the CDC yet.

There was one person -- a 35-year-old man -- who was listed March 17 as having COVID-19 in Knox County. He was removed from the list March 18 because his permanent residence is out-of-state.

The CDC is listing positive cases based on patients' permanent state of residence regardless of where they were diagnosed or are staying currently.

"If Knox County residents are at elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19, the Maine CDC will issue an alert. Right now, following the guidance put forth by Governor Mills and the Maine CDC is the best way for Knox County residents to reduce their risk and limit potential spread of the virus," CDC spokesman Robert Long stated March 18.

"To avoid double counting, the individuals are being listed in the states where their primary residences are located. But the patients have not been moved. The individuals, including one who was originally listed as a Knox County resident but who was then reclassified as a resident of another state, are still being cared for here," he said.

Knox County has a greater percentage of seasonal residences than the state average. According to the 2010 Census, 16% of housing units in Maine were seasonally occupied. In Knox County, the percentage is slightly more than 20%.

On North Haven, for example, 65% of residences are seasonal, according to the 2010 Census. The North Haven Select Board voted March 15 to prohibit non-residents from coming to the island. St. George has the most seasonal homes at 762 which is about 34% of all residences in the town.

Dr. Shah was asked during Thursday's media briefing about people from out-of-state who come to Maine. He said he has been in Maine for nine months and found it the most welcoming place he has been. He said he hopes it remains that way.

Twenty-five of the 52 cases in Maine are in Cumberland County.

The CDC director also pointed out that newer research shows that 40% of patients across the country who are hospitalized are in the 20 to 40 years age group. But the mortality rate remains far higher for the elderly.

He urged the younger age group to practice social distancing, both for their own health but also to avoid spreading the virus to older people such as their grandparents.

While social distancing is important, he said social isolation needs to be avoided. Dr. Shah urged people to call friends or sit out on the front porch and wave to passing neighbors.

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Scott Johnson | Mar 19, 2020 17:28

I understand the rationality in this article as for case accuracy but it seems that there should be some way of keeping Knox County residents notified of the number of positive cases regardless of where a persons residence is. Potentially Knox County could have 100's of positive cases consisting of "summer people" and be unaware of it because of reporting policy.  I don't think we are as apt to follow strict protocol if we are told there is only one or two cases in our area as we would be if we knew there was 100 or more cases. Hopefully this will be realized and remedied.

Beverly St Clair


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