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Local health officials warn coronavirus cases in Maine could surge after Thanksgiving

Experts give tips on what to do if you and your family were exposed
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 6:18 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The nation’s top infectious disease expert says the U.S. may see “surge upon surge” of the coronavirus in the weeks after Thanksgiving. Some of Maine’s leading medical experts say it’s likely a surge will happen here.

”We do expect that will happen particularly because of the holiday and people gathering together over the long weekend,” says Northern Light Health’s Dr. James Jarvis. He says despite efforts to curb Thanksgiving gatherings and travel, it still happened.

”The proof will be in the pudding. Given that Thanksgiving this year of course was on the 26th, generally speaking it takes about 12 maybe even up to 14 days after a particular event or in this case a series of small events, for any transmission that may have occurred to be fully detected,” says Head of the Maine CDC Dr. Nirav Shah. He says it could be a while before we know what impact Thanksgiving holiday travel and gatherings have on coronavirus cases in our state.

But what happens if someone from the gathering you attended tests positive?

“State Maine CDC is alerted to that, and they’ll start doing their contact tracing to find out who that person has been in contact with. Typically, family members though usually call each other and let them know before the state can actually make those phone calls,” says Dr. Jarvis. It could take up to two weeks for someone to recognize symptoms and get a positive test result back.

He says, “Being in close contact with somebody for 15 minutes within a 24 hour period, that means, you know, 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there, that’s 15 minutes with nobody wearing masks, that puts you at the highest risk of contracting the virus from the person who’s positive.”

Dr. Jarvis says if it’s in your immediate household, “You want to try to limit the contact between each other, and I recommend that everyone in the house start wearing masks immediately.” He says if you can isolate yourself to a single bedroom and bathroom away from others, you should do so. “If the whole family comes down with COVID, then it’s looking out for one another.”

According to Maine Turnpike officials, holiday travel was one third of what it typically is this time of year.

Experts urge everyone who traveled to get tested.

It is state mandated that those who travel out of the state must quarantine for five days then get tested for coronavirus.

As the impact of Thanksgiving is yet to be known, Dr. Jarvis says other holidays are looming, “We have the holidays coming up in December as well, and those same choices need to be made.”

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