Web exclusive, December 1, 2020
COVID-19 outbreak forces another round of closings
Nursing home count stands at 48
by Leslie Landrigan
Editor’s Note 12/8/20: In some of our coverage of the coronavirus situation at the Brooksville School in our reporting last week we wrote that a student there had contracted the virus. When contacted this week, School Union 93 Superintendent Mark Hurvitt said that, because of confidentiality requirements, he could not confirm or deny that the person is a student. This is an ongoing complicated situation that we are continually sorting out. We apologize for our part in this confusion.
Businesses, schools and public institutions closed their doors on November 30 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak at the Island Nursing Home.
The Deer Isle-Stonington schools closed for two days and went to remote learning from Wednesday through Friday. In a memo to parents and staff, School Union 76 Superintendent Chris Elkington wrote that concerns about community spread have increased because of “multiple gatherings over the last two weeks that have been reported around our communities.” The Community School District board will decide Tuesday on how to proceed beyond this week.
In nearby Brooksville, a student tested positive at the elementary school and so schools in Brooksville, Blue Hill, Castine, Penobscot, and Surry were closed through December 4.
The local outbreak is part of a statewide surge in COVID-19 cases. On December 1, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 227 new cases and a record 20 deaths the previous day.
Elkington has said repeatedly that schools are among the safest places for students to be. However, students in three of the four schools in Deer Isle, Brooklin and Sedgwick live in households with Island Nursing Home employees, Elkington said in a zoom call on November 29.
Island Nursing Home
The number of infected residents and staff at the nursing home stood at 48 on November 30, according to Matthew Trombley, executive director, in an email. The nursing home has about 60 residents and 85 staff, Trombley said. They will be retested for the virus on Wednesday, according to Dr. Nirav Shah, CDC director.
The CDC and other state agencies are working with the Island Nursing Home to provide staffing, testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), Shah said. He praised Trombley for his response to the crisis in a November 30 news conference.
News of the nursing home outbreak has caused a number of doors to close to the public. Both island libraries and the Stonington town offices have gone to curbside-only service.
“We are not open to the public,” said Henry Teverow, Stonington’s economic planner and lone staffer in the Town Hall. The rest of the town’s staff went home to work after one had a household member who tested positive for the virus.
People who have business with the town should call first at 367-2351, ext. 12, Teverow said in a phone interview.
Also in Stonington, Fin & Fern went to take-out only and The Island Agency is only doing business by appointment. Island Childcare is just open for the children of essential workers.
The Deer Isle town offices are also by appointment only, with only one person allowed in the building at a time. 44 North Coffee closed for the week.