Maine CDC Press Release

April 12, 2020

Additional COVID-19 Cases Confirmed at Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation

41 residents and 14 staff have tested positive

AUGUSTA – TheMaine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) todayconfirmedanincrease incasesof COVID-19 at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation in Augusta.

As of today, 41 residents and 14 staff members of the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.As reported on Friday, one resident who tested positive for COVID-19died. Maine CDC facilitated COVID-19 testing for all residents and staff after the first case, and the state lab confirmed the additional cases in a batch of subsequent samples.The increased number of cases at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation will be reflected in the COVID-19 data that Maine CDC will post on Monday, April 13, 2020.

Maine CDC is in regular contact with administrators at the facility.Elevatedprotective measures have been in place since the first positive test involving a member of the community.Anadditionalsupplyof personal protective equipment (PPE) has been providedto the facility.Federal law requires that nursing facilities have emergency preparedness plans that include infection control protocols.

To date, Maine has had three outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities (LTCFs).Maine CDCpreviouslyannouncedoutbreaksatthe Tall PinesRetirement and Health Care Communityin Belfast, and the Maine Veterans' Homes facility in Scarborough. Other outbreaks have been previously reported at assisted living, independent living, and group homes that do not offer skilled nursing care. Nationwide, nursing facilities have been common settings for COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is intensifying its ongoing work to limit additional nursing and LTCF COVID-19 outbreaks. This week, Maine CDC will, working with State licensing boards, reiterate in an email to all physicians and nurses licensed in Maine the actions that can be taken in long-term care settings to protect residents and staff. A special webinar also will be held for medical directors of nursing facilities on best practices for prevention and response to the spread of COVID-19.

Maine CDC will also redistribute its "LTCF toolkit" that includes a preparedness checklist for nursing homes and other LTCFs; a LTCF respiratory illness tracking chart; guidance for nursing homes from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; and a letter that LTCFs can use to inform families regarding actions being taken to preserve the health of facility residents and staff. And, the DHHS Office of Aging and Disability Services will work with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman on facility-specific technical assistance, with a special focus on small and rural nursing facilities and LTCFs that serve older adults and adults with disabilities.

These proactive measures build on the steps already taken to support Maine's nursing homes and congregate living facilities:

  • Since March 4, Maine CDC has hosted a weekly call for staff at LTCFs to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation in Maine and on published guidance relevant to LTCFs, and to answer questions from attendees. On a regular basis, Maine CDC staff have provided guidance and self-assessment tools to the Maine Health Care Association (MHCA) and the DHHS Division of Licensing and Certification (DLC). MHCA and DLC have distributed these to all Maine LTCFs.
  • OnMarch 9 and March 15, Maine CDC issued a number of recommendations for LTCFs through theHealth Alert Network, including restricting visitors, checking staff for symptoms of COVID-19, canceling communal meals and activities, posting visual alerts, and ensuring hand hygiene supplies are available.
  • OnMarch 15, Governor Mills recommended that long-term care providers prohibit all visitors and non-essential health care personnel, except for certain compassionate care situations, until further notice.
  • OnMarch 26, DHHS announced that MaineCare will pay nursing facilities for extra costs associated with COVID-19, including staffing above and beyond customary levels to maintain proper ratios and to monitor residents and screen visitors, and supplies and PPE, such as face masks and gowns, beyond the amounts typically purchased. This extraordinary circumstance allowance builds on the investment in nursing facilities through a cost-of-living increase in the biennial budget and other increases to their rates.
  • Maine CDC and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) have prioritized requests from LTCFs for PPE.

Maine CDC continues to track all COVID-19 positive LTCF residents and health care workers.When a LTCF has a case, Maine CDC staff work with the facility to provide recommendations for public health interventions, facilitate further testing, and expedite requests for additional PPE.