Cynthia Morgan and her daughter Katie walk Monday afternoon near a mailbox offering a supply of free masks on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. The two said they do not mind wearing masks in public, in accordance with the state’s mandate. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The state announced a new no-cost test site in Auburn on Monday, while also confirming that 72 people — 45 residents, 27 workers and one contracted vendor — have now tested positive for COVID-19 at Russell Park Rehabilitation and Living Center.

Indiana Roddy, right, walks through the leaves at Russell Park Manor in Lewiston after visiting with her great- grandmother through a window with her grandparents, Jason and Suzanne Campbell, on Friday afternoon.  Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

The 103-bed facility in Lewiston offers nursing care, physical rehab and long-term care. Currently, Russell Park has 94 residents, which means nearly half have COVID-19. A quarter of its 108 staff members have the virus.

The outbreak was first announced Friday with 64 cases.

Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced the update at the CDC’s regular press briefing Monday. Shah said members of the CDC and other agencies had what he called a “productive call” with leadership at Russell Park on Saturday to make sure the facility has what it needs for infection control, personal protective equipment and testing.

“Two rounds of testing are under way at Russell Park, one today and another tomorrow. After which point, we’ll have a better sense of how that outbreak has evolved within that facility,” Shah said.

It is unclear how the outbreak started. Shah said a resident was the first person to show symptoms at Russell Park, but he noted that nursing home outbreaks tend to start with a staff member.

“We haven’t identified, yet, specifically which staff member may have been the first to introduce it,” he said. “We’re not aware of reports of staff members who were symptomatic, but of course we know now that much of the transmission can occur before folks have symptoms. We’re trying to identify who or which set of staff members may have been among the first to introduce it into Russell Park and then we’ll be able to go back in time with them to determine whether they acquired it at a family gathering, so on and so forth.”

Russell Park is owned by North Country Associates in Lewiston. North Country’s chief operating officer, Mary Jane Richards, released a statement Monday that, in part, reiterated an earlier statement that Russell Park discovered the outbreak on Nov. 3 and that most people there with the virus have had mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

The statement also reiterated some of the steps Russell Park has taken to stop the spread of the virus, including working with the CDC, testing all residents and staff and monitoring for symptoms. It also said the facility has restricted visitors, allowing only those in cases of “compassionate care.”

The statement also praised Russell Park’s employees.

“The staff at Russell Park are remarkable,” the statement read. “They have stepped up by working extra shifts or to fill in for those staff that are out with the virus. We are grateful to these heroes that are committed to the residents in making sure they are getting the best care.”

The Russell Park outbreak comes as Maine is seeing record-breaking case numbers. On Monday, the state recorded 204 new cases, the most it’s had in a single day. Cumberland County had 31% of those cases while Androscoggin County had 25%.

A COVID-19 testing site will offer a three-day test turnaround starting Friday at the Downtown Auburn Transportation Center. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Also on Monday, the state announced two new testing sites in partnership with Promerica Health. A swab-and-send and rapid-test site will be at the Portland International Jetport. A swab-and-send site will be at the Downtown Auburn Transportation Center, at the far end of the Great Falls Plaza parking lot, offering a three-day test turnaround.

In Auburn, appointments will be available five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., starting Friday. The free tests will be available to anyone, regardless of symptoms, no referral needed. Appointments can be scheduled at covidtestforme.com.

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