Two of the 10 hospital staff members quarantined Thursday and Friday at Waterville’s Northern Light Inland Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital announced late Saturday night.

The two employees were in contact with a person who later tested positive for COVID-19 when the employees were off-site and off duty. They were potentially exposed again during visitation hours at Inland where the patient was being treated before being diagnosed with the disease, Dr. Gavin Ducker, Inland’s senior physician executive and co-president of Northern Light Health Medical Group, the hospital network that operates the hospital, told the Press Herald Sunday afternoon.

The two employees, who were never part of the patient’s care team, are now isolating at home, Ducker said, and the patient is now hospitalized at Inland.

The hospital first disclosed the quarantines in a short statement posted on the network’s website late Friday afternoon, but declined to share further details. In its original statement, Inland said it learned Thursday that the patient had tested positive for the disease and staff members were working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to trace the contacts of those they had isolated.

The eight other staff members isolated Thursday and Friday had either prolonged face-to-face contact with the patient or prolonged exposure to those who had, Ducker said. One of those staff members has received a negative test result, but will continue to isolate at home until additional testing is performed beyond the disease’s incubation period. The other seven staff members in quarantine will not be tested unless they develop symptoms, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Ducker said Sunday all of the eight on-duty staff members who had been quarantined had been following the Maine CDC’s guidelines on masking and other protective measures for patients and were being isolated “after an abundance of caution so that they will be protected and not a risk to others.”

“We are working closely with the Maine CDC regarding staff exposures and they are completely satisfied that other patients at Inland have not been put at risk,” he added in his written statement Saturday night, emphasizing it was safe to seek care at the 48-bed community hospital.

Ducker declined to say when the exposures had taken place, citing patient and staff privacy concerns.

Although there are three infections, Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said via email Sunday afternoon that the situation did not meet the agency’s criteria for an outbreak. He declined to offer any additional details because the agency does not provide information about individual cases.

Inland has had relatively little experience with COVID-19, having not treated an inpatient with the disease since April 3. As of Thursday, the hospital had reported no confirmed COVID inpatients, though that has presumably changed since the Thursday census was taken.

Northern Light Health’s hospitals have together cared for confirmed COVID patients totaling 700 bed nights, but this is the first time the network has posted a news release about having to quarantine staff members because they had been exposed to the disease.

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