The Star-Herald

Fifth resident dies in Presque Isle nursing home outbreak as center set to get vaccine

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A fifth resident has died in a COVID-19 outbreak that has infected 27 people at the Presque Isle Rehab and Nursing Center as the facility prepares to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The center is expected to get COVID-19 vaccine doses on Dec. 28, nursing director Gail Hallett said Thursday. Nursing home officials had previously said they were working on getting access to the vaccine amid the outbreak.

A total of 14 staff members and 13 residents have been stricken with the virus at the nursing home, in what has been by far the largest coronavirus outbreak in The County. The center did not see any new cases from Monday to Thursday.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention began investigating the outbreak on Dec. 1. Nursing home officials believe that a staff member brought the virus into the center after getting lunch with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. 

The center is not the only nursing home in the Presque Isle area to receive the vaccine. Residents at the Northern Light Continuing Care facility in Mars Hill were administered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Thursday.

Nursing homes in Maine and across the country have been some of the hardest-hit locations by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than 80,000 residents and 1,000 staff members had died from the virus as of the week ending on Dec. 6, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In addition, 410,000 residents and more than 350,000 staff members have infected with the virus.

Of the 629 nursing home residents who have been infected in Maine, 91 have died. 

Aroostook County continues to see high numbers of new COVID-19 cases. Dec. 15 saw 33 new cases, a record since the beginning of the pandemic. As of Dec. 16, there were 216 active COVID-19 cases in The County, according to Maine CDC data.

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