During a media briefing this week, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said as of Thursday 18 new cases were confirmed among workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Some 13 of those individuals who tested positive for novel coronavirus are Maine residents, while four are from New Hampshire and one from Massachusetts, he said.
“One of the linkages that we have identified that may have generated this outbreak is a group of individuals who commuted together from Sanford to the Naval Shipyard,” Shah said.
“There was a commuting van that occurred where nine individuals in that van seemed to have shared rides on a frequent basis,” Shah continued. “Seven of the nine individuals who are part of the commuting caravan have tested positive.”
Shah said among the 18 individuals who contracted COVID-19 at least two are not employees of the shipyard but are “close household contacts of employees of the shipyard.”
One individual is not thought to work or have commuted with the other 17 positive individuals, and health officials are investigating if that case is an incidental finding.
“It is a common question we encounter whether an individual is incidentally someone who is detected or part of the outbreak we are seeing,” Shah said.
The Maine CDC is working alongside the Navy Shipyard to investigate the outbreak and note the transmission patterns.
As of Thursday, Maine has reported some 4,962 cases of the novel virus. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 138, according to Maines’s CDC.