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May 18, 2020

Maine CDC looking into COVID-19 cases related to Cianbro Augusta construction site

Photo / Maureen Milliken Two COVID-19 cases in Maine involve construction workers related to the Maine Veterans Home construction site in Augusta.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating at least two cases of COVID-19 related to the site of the under-construction Maine Veterans Home on Old Belgrade Road in Augusta.

The site, across from MaineGeneral Medical Center, has been under construction for a year by Cianbro Corp., of Pittsfield, which also hires subcontractors from several other states to work on the site.

Maine CDC Friday confirmed there are two cases possibly connected to the site. But Nirav Shah, director of the agency, said at his Friday briefing the investigation is early and the CDC is still looking into how the workers may have contacted the virus.

 A Maine CDC spokesman this morning had no additional details. "It's an ongoing investigation involving multiple contractors from multiple states," he said.

Shah said Friday, "We're not even sure at this stage if it is an outbreak, because we have to find that epidemeological link."

Some of the subcontractors at the site are from New Hampshire and other states that have higher levels of COVID-19 cases than Maine. Shah said that if people are coming in from out of state for essential work, "the worksite may not be the issue." He said the workers may be socializing or rooming together, and that could be the source of transmission.

Out-of-state visitors must quarantine for 14 days, but that's not the case for those who have to come to the state for work. Shah said that all workers at construction sites should be mindful of social distancing and other health and safety guidelines in light of the pandemic.

As of Friday, interviews that determine contacts of those who tested positive were just beginning. "We're not sure what the mode of transmission was, and where it may have originated and who may have transmitted it to whom." 

A Cianbro spokesman this morning said the company wouldn't be able to respond in time for Mainebiz' Daily Report deadline.

Most of the state's outbreaks have been at congregant care settings, particularly nursing homes, with one outbreak linked to a noncongregant business. That outbreak was last month at the Tyson Foods plant in Portland, where 51 of 403 employees and subcontractors tested positive for COVID-19.

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