The state is investigating five new COVID-19 outbreaks across western Maine.

Investigators began probing the new cases in the past 24 hours, Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a briefing Thursday.

Shah also announced that an unidentified man in his 70s died in Androscoggin County this week, the 159th victim of the pandemic that began slamming Maine in March.

Shah said the western Maine outbreaks in a variety of settings show that “virus is everywhere among us” and that Mainers need to follow public health precautions to avoid spreading it further, including social distancing and wearing masks.

“There is so much at stake,” Shah said.

Investigators are looking into specific outbreaks involving the Maine Nordiques hockey team in Lewiston, the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, the child care program at Community Concepts, Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway and Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in Paris.


In addition, Bates College announced Thursday that two more of its students tested positive, bringing the number of students in isolation housing to nine. A 10th case is recovering at home.

Shah said the outbreak at the Lewiston-based Community Concepts included three staff members.

“Our good fortune finally ran out,” Shawn Yardley, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer, said.

Yardley said the outbreak forced the closure of three child care sites, in Wilton, Farmington and Jay. Those students are being educated remotely instead, he said, at least through November.

Community Concepts has been preparing since the pandemic started for the possibility it would have to close sites, he said. It has tablets to loan to families that need one, he said, and a platform for students to learn online.

Yardley said he is “very proud” of his “disciplined, courageous and committed” staff that is keeping everything going under trying circumstances.


At the Maine Nordiques, he said, one student and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19. The team said Thursday that it would not comment on the outbreak.

Hockey is “a high risk sport,” said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. She said it involved “a lot of strenuous activity” that makes it more likely that “respiratory droplets” will infect others during play.

Shah said scientists are looking into the risks associated with hockey. He said some suspect the cold floor may play a role.

Shah said the jail case had three staff members while the Norway school had two among students and two among staff. There are five cases at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, he said.

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