As of 11 a.m. Monday, March 16, 12 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and five others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
The first Maine child to test positive for the new coronavirus is a 12-year-old boy who attends Cape Elizabeth Middle School and likely contracted the virus outside of school, officials said Monday.
The boy is one of 32 Mainers who have tested positive or presumptive positive for the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. State officials said he is the first child to test positive for the virus in Maine.
Jill Young, a nurse at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, said in a Monday news conference that “everyone in our Cape Middle School community was potentially exposed” and those who were in close contact with the boy have been in touch with state health officials, who said Sunday that the virus appears to be spreading here between people who have not traveled internationally.
“There are several avenues by which individuals may have been exposed, not just in our county but in our state,” Young said.
Young told reporters she was unable to say whether the student was showing symptoms at the school, or offer details about the student, such as whether he rode the bus. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are most likely to have serious illnesses if they get the virus. She advised that everyone in the community take extra precautions and to contact their primary care physicians if they feel symptoms such as cough, fever, or shortness of breath.
Young said that there was reason to believe that this case and others in the county are indicative of “community transmission,” which means they were infected by someone in the community rather than travel. She advised that parents and young people don’t have playdates or sleepovers during this time.
Donna Wolfrom, Cape Elizabeth’s superintendent, said that she met with Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin on Saturday and decided to shut the school down for two weeks. The decision came before the announcement that the student tested positive.
Wolfrom said that she and other school officials would work this week to determine which students do not have internet access, and that the school has ordered “hotspot-like devices” to expand access and connectivity for students while school is closed.
“We’re exploring what a school day looks like,” principal Troy Eastman said, adding that the district has had to redesign their contingency plans as the virus spread over the past week.
The principal said the focus is trying to maintain digital contact between teachers, students and families during the shutdown, and to supply resources in an effort to maintain academic growth. Parents in the community were scheduled to receive more information this morning about picking up items at the school, including iPads and band equipment.
Jenn and Tony Adams of Cape Elizabeth have two children, ages 11 and 13, attending the middle school. Jenn Adams said she was “worried that our kids will get it but we feel that the school has been very communicative and proactive at responding” to the outbreak. The couple, who are from Chicago, recently moved to town.
“I’m nervous that we are new to town and haven’t yet met our insurance-assigned primary care providers, but I also have confidence that if our family were to begin to show symptoms, the medical community here will be dedicated to helping,” she said.
BDN writer Troy Bennett contributed to this report.