198 in Mars Hill nursing home test negative for COVID-19 after employee tests positive
MARS HILL, Maine — Two days after announcing that an employee at its Continuing Care facility in Mars Hill tested positive for COVID-19, Northern Light A.R. Gould said on Thursday that 198 residents and employees had tested negative.
A total of 201 tests were conducted after the hospital was notified that an employee who made contact with residents and staff July 8-11 had tested positive for COVID-19. That person, whose name has not been released, is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Presque Isle area since the pandemic hit Maine in March.
Though the results of three tests remain, the announcement from A.R. Gould indicates that the virus had not spread inside the Mars Hill nursing home. Nursing homes have constituted some of the largest hotbeds for COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States. Spread can occur quickly in a group home setting, affecting elderly residents who are most at-risk of dying from the virus.
According to federal data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 216,827 nursing home residents are confirmed or suspected to have contracted the coronavirus across the country; 37,213 have died. In Maine, there have been 197 total cases and 37 deaths.
Northern Light A.R. Gould President Greg LaFrancois said the lack of spread was a sign that the hospital’s protocols — including regular screening, use of personal protection equipment and mask requirements — worked.
“I am grateful to the community for its continued support, Northern Light Laboratory for their
immediate action, and the leaders and staff of Continuing Care in Mars Hill for keeping everyone safe,” LaFrancois said.
A.R. Gould is working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to determine which employees and residents would be tested a second time.
LaFrancois said contact tracing was also being done to determine if the employee who tested positive had contact with anybody outside the facility. He said he expects that number to be minimal.