New COVID-19 cases have risen to their highest weekly average since late June, driven largely by outbreaks in York County. The trend prompted the University of Maine System to announce Monday that it will expand its testing program at southern Maine campuses.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 42 new cases on Monday, including 11 in York County, where the agency continues to monitor six active outbreaks and 10 cases that are linked to a funeral in Sanford.

The numbers reflect an uptick in overall trends, as the seven-day average of new cases was 30.4 on Monday, the highest since late June, when the seven-day average was around 40. During the pandemic’s peak in late May, Maine’s seven-day average was in the low 50s, and the low point so far was about 14 per day in early August.

Also on Monday, the Maine CDC announced that the number of cases connected to an Aug. 7 wedding and reception in the Millinocket area has risen to 176, after more cases were discovered at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison.

Retesting at the Madison nursing home found another 11 cases of COVID-19, which increases the case count for that outbreak investigation to 39, including 24 residents and 15 staff, Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman, said in a statement.

Five people have died in connection with the wedding and reception, and four were Maplecrest residents.

The Millinocket-area wedding and reception also have been linked to an outbreak at York County Jail started by a jail employee who attended the wedding. The pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford officiated at the wedding, but the Maine CDC has not found a direct link between outbreaks at the wedding and the Sanford church.

The Maine CDC is monitoring six active outbreaks and 10 cases of COVID-19 that are linked to a funeral held in Sanford.  Derek Davis/Staff photographer

Overall, Maine has reported 4,903 cases and 136 deaths. Androscoggin County also reported 11 new cases on Monday, while Cumberland County, the state’s most populous, had five.

On Saturday, the Maine CDC reported that the number of cases linked to an Aug. 31 funeral and reception in the Sanford area had increased to 10. The funeral took place outdoors at the Southern Maine Veterans Cemetery in Springvale, and the reception occurred indoors and outdoors at Sanford American Legion Post 19 on Main Street in Springvale.

In response to the York County outbreaks, the University of Maine System is ramping up testing and screening efforts at its facilities. The system anticipates testing about 700 students and employees at five southern Maine locations, including 400 at University of Southern Maine campuses in Portland and Gorham and the University of Maine School of Law in Portland. The testing is part of a previously approved $6 million effort devoted to strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on system campuses.

The expanded testing also will be conducted at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Springvale office and the University of Maine at Augusta’s Saco center. While only the UMA Saco center and the cooperative extension’s Springvale office are in York County, the increased testing is designed to step up efforts more widely in southern Maine, university officials said.

In a news conference with reporters on Monday, Glenn Cummings, USM president, noted that many USM students live and work in York County, and could potentially spread the virus into Cumberland County.

“The potential for overlap is strong,” Cummings said.

At St. Joseph’s College of Maine, nine students have tested positive for COVID-19, and all cases are asymptomatic, the college reported on Saturday.  For at least the next two weeks, the Standish college will deliver all classes remotely and students will be required to stay in their rooms “as much as possible.”

“Let’s pull together now, so we can stay together for the semester,” college President Jim Dlugos said in a statement on Saturday.

In addition, the Maine CDC said that attendees of the following Sanford social clubs on the following dates should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and call their health provider to determine whether they should be tested:

Sanford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9935 on Hutchenson Street from Aug. 24 to the present
Lafayette Social Club on Winter Street between Aug. 27 and Sept. 2
Wolves Club on High Street from Aug. 26 to the present
Sanford Elks Lodge on Elm Street from Sept. 3 to the present
Amvets Sanford Post 3 on School Street from Aug. 26 to the present

Attendees of the Springvale Social Club from Sept. 1 to the present should also take the same precautions, the Maine CDC said.

Other York County locations where outbreaks have been identified include the York County Jail, Calvary Baptist Church in Sanford, the Sanford Fire Department and Seal Rock Health Care nursing home in Saco.

Hospitalizations remained low on Monday, with nine patients currently hospitalized statewide, five in intensive care.

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