Downeast COVID-19 Task Force says safety precautions are working on MDI

Frontline workers on MDI have been getting rugularly tested since July. More than a hundred tests have been administered so far- all were negative.
Published: Aug. 7, 2020 at 9:18 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Earlier this week, reports from MDI Hospital began to circulate that as many as thirty-five out of state visitors could have been carrying COVID-19 on MDI and unknowingly spreading it.

According to the hospital, the cumulative number of people from out of state who’ve actually tested positive is around 10.

“Where the 30 to 35 number comes from are those individuals they were traveling with to get here,” said MDI Hospital Senior Vice President & C.O.O. Chrissi Maguire. “So those individuals were not positive. They were contacts of positivity.”

MDI Hospital is part of the Downeast Task Force that’s been working to track COVID cases since this spring.

It started testing frontline workers on MDI in late July.

More than a hundred tests have been administered so far. All were negative.

“We knew that there would be increased cases, but we also knew we’d be doing the right things to keep that case level as low as possible,” said Alf Anderson, Executive Director of the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “Thankfully the hospital is doing everything that they can locally, as well as all the other partners of the task force, and we’re glad that they’re keeping the community safe.”

Hospital and Chamber officials in Bar Harbor say that strict adherence to safety precautions have been incredibly effective at stopping the spread, despite there still being thousands of people here from away.

“We have a high compliance here,” Maguire said. “We mask. We believe in distancing. And we’ve done an excellent job in mitigating the spread of COVID, and we believe we will continue to do an excellent job.”

Stephen Coston, a Bar Harbor resident who owns multiple businesses in town, says the safety measures are working.

“Visitation started to increase significantly six weeks ago at this point, and we’ve not had a significant outbreak like you’re seeing in some other places,” he said.

“I can understand why it makes people a little bit nervous,” added Anderson. “But the positivity rate is so low, that we’re encouraged by the fact that taking proactive measures like the hospital has done, and like the business community has done, is gonna keep that positivity rate low.”

“The extra efforts seem to be paying dividends and allowing our community to achieve a balance of safety,” Coston said. “But also sustainability and people being able to put food on the table.”

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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