BAR HARBOR — Mount Desert Island Hospital reported a first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 on Friday, March 20.
The sample was collected at one if the hospital’s two remote testing sites, according to a news release. The patient never entered the hospital.
The testing sites are drive-up facilities; patients can be tested without having to leave their vehicles. One is near the hospital’s main campus; the other is near the Cooper-Gilmore Health Center.
On March 19, the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported one case in Hancock County, but changed the status of that one case the next day. The person was tested in Hancock County, the agency said, but lives in and is currently situated in Penobscot County.
Citing rules against commenting on specific cases, neither hospital nor CDC representatives could confirm whether that reclassified case was the same as the one reported by MDI Hospital. This week, the CDC reports continue to show zero confirmed cases in Hancock County.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, was asked in a Tuesday press briefing how people who are full-time residents of other states but are in Maine temporarily, who test positive for COVID-19 while they are here, are recorded.
National protocols require those cases be recorded “for bookkeeping purposes in the state of permanent residence,” Shah said, “but public health measures are still undertaken by the relevant state public health department” in the person’s current physical location.
But, he said, underlying the question about visitors is a problematic idea about how cautious people should be.
It’s a sense of, “If I only knew that someone were in my county, I might do something different,” he said. “That supposition, that assumption is not true. Everyone should start behaving as if it were in their town.”
He emphasized that “absence of evidence” of confirmed positive cases in any particular location “is not evidence of absence.”
COVID-19 causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and/or shortness of breath. Most cases are mild to moderate. Older adults and people with pre-existing medical conditions may experience more severe respiratory illness.
“If you are having symptoms or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, call your primary care provider’s office,” the hospital news release stated. “If you do not have a primary care provider, call MDI Hospital’s Coronavirus Call Center at 207-801-5900.”