Russell Park Rehabilitation and Living Center in Lewiston now has 146 cases of COVID-19. The virus has affected most residents and more than half the staff. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Russell Park Rehabilitation and Living Center now has 146 people with COVID-19 , including 77 residents, 68 staff members and one outside vendor. A fourth person connected to the outbreak there, a resident, has died.

With an increase of 17 cases in a week, the outbreak has now reached 82% of the facility’s 94 residents and 63% of its staff.

In a statement released this week, leaders from North Country Associates, Russell Park’s owner, said so many staff members have tested positive that they are now paying more money to those who can work as an incentive to come in. They are also hiring new workers, appealing for help from other North Country Associates facilities and working with staffing agencies.

The statement 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, isolating or cohorting residents and monitoring for symptoms.

“We continue to do our best to manage this extraordinarily challenging situation,” the statement read.

While Russell Park’s outbreak is one of the largest in the area, it is not the only one.

During his regular press briefing on Friday, Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention Director Nirav Shah said the CDC has opened 20 outbreak investigations statewide in the past two days. Those outbreaks include 10 cases at Bath Iron Works, three cases at Lewiston Middle School and four cases at Greene Central School.

Greene Central School moved to remote learning Friday. Students will return to in-person instruction on Nov. 30.  In the meantime, according to the superintendent, the building will be deep cleaned.

Because Lewiston Middle School’s cases have occurred far apart in time, the school will not move to fully remote learning. However, one of the school’s six cohorts will switch to remote learning until after Thanksgiving since the most recent case involved a student on that team.

The Maine Department of Transportation’s Region 3 office in Wilton has also reported five cases. The CDC is investigating whether the virus was transmitted within the facility or outside, according to the Maine DOT. The department said the five employees do not have routine contact with the public as part of their jobs.

The University of Maine at Farmington also reported a single case involving a student who lives on campus.

The outbreaks come as Maine continues to see rising cases across the state. On Friday, Maine recorded 224 new cases of COVID-19 and the deaths of a man in his 80s from Androscoggin County and a woman in her 70s from Somerset County.

On Friday, 90 people were hospitalized with the virus, 49 of them in an intensive care unit.

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