The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has closed its Augusta office to the public after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, the agency said Wednesday.
The state Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine CDC’s umbrella agency, learned of the positive test result on Tuesday afternoon and notified other workers at the office on 286 Water St. in downtown Augusta. The employee is now self-isolating, and workers from four of the building’s floors are now working remotely.
Jackie Farwell, a Maine DHHS spokesperson, said the agency was only releasing “limited” information about the case. She did not indicate what role the worker held at the public health agency, which has been coordinating the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, or how the person may have caught COVID-19.
Most Maine CDC workers were already working remotely, Farwell said, and the partial closure of the state office building will not hinder the agency’s ability to provide testing for the virus, distribute personal protective equipment or investigate how the disease is spreading across the state. Maine DHHS offices have sanitation policies in effect, and they have also required that workers wear face coverings and maintain adequate physical distancing, Farwell said.
New cases of the virus have reached new highs across Maine over the last week, reaching many areas of the state that previously had few of them.
A number of those new cases in recent weeks have been in Kennebec County, which has recently driven up COVID-19 admissions at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. Last month, Maine’s capital saw a virus outbreak tied to another state office building.
On Wednesday, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said the CDC was investigating three new virus outbreaks in the Augusta area — at a physical therapy practice, a gym and a church.
The outbreak at Hope Baptist Church in Manchester is the fourth church-related outbreak the state has seen within the past month after churches in Brooks, Calais and Pittsfield. The church said in an Oct. 31 post on its Facebook page that it was canceling in-person services for the next two weeks, including a trick-or-treating event, as more church members tested positive for COVID-19, even as they didn’t know how they contracted it.