The main and Emergency entrances to the Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington. Morning Sentinel file photo

FARMINGTON — Franklin Memorial Hospital announced Friday that four members of its care team have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has classified the cases as an outbreak.

Medical leaders at the hospital are working with the Maine CDC to limit the spread of the outbreak. The four individuals who tested positive worked in different parts of the hospital and the hospital has initiated testing of anyone who could have potentially been exposed. The employees are in quarantine.

According to a statement released Friday by the hospital, the cases are not thought to pose a huge risk to patients because the staff has been consistent in using protective equipment that has been shown to minimize transmission of COVID-19.

However, medical leaders at the hospital worry the cases are a sign that COVID-19 is spreading extensively to Maine’s rural areas. Trampas Hutches, president of Franklin Community Health Care, said in the statement that it is important for members of the community to continue to wear a mask, social distance, practice good hand hygiene and to keep surfaces clean.

“Up to this point, Maine has done much better than the rest of the country controlling the spread of this virus, and fortunately for our community, it hasn’t been as prevalent in Franklin County,” Hutches said.  “With the cooler weather, every indication is that that is starting to change. It is vital that we take this threat seriously by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.”

Franklin Memorial Hospital is open for all services, and there are extensive protocols in place to keep patients safe, including universal masking in all facilities, frequent cleaning and designated areas for treating those who may have been infected with COVID-19.

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