The Maine State House in Augusta is seen in this May 6, 2020, file photo. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

AUGUSTA, Maine — Four employees who maintain state government buildings have tested positive for the coronavirus, and a fifth employee is thought to also have the virus, health officials said Thursday.

The employees work in the Department of Administrative and Financial Services’ property management division, which is responsible for grounds work, maintenance, and custodial and plumbing services at state offices in Augusta, Hallowell and Vassalboro.

The first positive case was discovered Sept. 29 in an employee who was last at work on Sept. 24, according to the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. Three other cases confirmed by tests emerged after 18 employees potentially exposed to the virus were sent home to complete a 14-day quarantine.

Seven of the quarantined employees had tested negative and returned to work by Thursday. Others are expected to return by next week, and several have tested negative, human resources director Breena Bissell said in her email to the union. Of the eight employees who are still quarantining, one is considered a “probable” case of COVID-19 — a likely case of the virus that has not yet been confirmed by a test.

All of the infected employees are currently in isolation.

The facility used by the property management division has been deep-cleaned. It is not a public-facing facility, according to the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

The state typically informs the Maine Service Employees Association, which represents state employees, when there is a positive case among the state workforce. That did not happen until Thursday, according to the email from Bissell, because the affected individuals were informed by phone and do not have state email accounts.