North Haven officials have confirmed five cases of COVID-19 on the offshore island community, which has a year-round population of just 357 people.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has not opened an outbreak investigation on the island, Robert Long, the communications director for the department, said Friday, as town officials urged residents to “not panic.”
“At the same time, please take this seriously, as we have a number of particularly vulnerable people in our community,” Rick Lattimer, town administrator, said in a letter to community members posted on the town’s website. “This is a time for heightened caution.”
The island made national headlines in March when town officials passed an unprecedented ban on visitors and seasonal residents in a bid to protect the community from the spread of the virus.
The short-lived ban lasted less than a week, and was enacted as town officials heard people who were not full-time residents were traveling there to ride out the coronavirus outbreak.
If residents believe they have been exposed to the virus, Lattimer said they should isolate and call the island’s health clinic for advice. North Haven officials are working with Maine CDC contact tracers, and asking residents to take health precautions including washing their hands frequently and wearing masks in all public settings, which include around the ferry terminal and in the grocery store parking lot.
Islanders should monitor themselves and family members for virus symptoms, which include fever, loss of taste or smell and difficulty breathing.
The North Haven Community School which enrolls fewer than 70 students has switched to remote learning through Thanksgiving. School administrators will evaluate when to resume in-person learning “as soon as circumstances permit,” Lattimer said.
Although the town office will be closed to the public, Lattimer said people can still do some transactions using a drop box out front.
“Please be patient as we work through this together,” he said.