A barrier prevents access to Blueberry Lane at the OceanView at Falmouth senior living community, where six residents tested positive for coronavirus as of March 21. (Portland Phoenix file/Colin Ellis)
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Two residents of a Falmouth senior living community are among the first likely or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine, an indication that coronavirus may have a foothold among the state’s most vulnerable population.

Two Falmouth Fire-EMS crew members who provided care and transported an OceanView patient several times were deemed healthy, but were quarantined as a precautionary measure, according to town officials. Other crew members who had contact with the patient were cleared to return to duty as long as they remain symptom-free.

On March 15, OceanView at Falmouth announced a man in his 80s and his spouse had tested presumptively positive for COVID-19. The man is being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland; his spouse is recuperating at home, according to a statement from OceanView. 

“All staff and residents who would have come in contact with these residents have been identified,” the statement said. “We are confident we’ve identified everyone since we have documentation protocols to ensure we have a record of campus activities.” 

Falmouth Fire-EMS issued a statement that it would be limiting crew sizes from three personnel to two and that only one EMT or paramedic would attend a patient at a time to limit exposure for emergency responders. The emergency responders are continuing their disinfecting protocols, the department said, and use protective equipment when responding to potential cases of COVID-19. 

OceanView’s 80-acre wooded and landscaped campus along Route 9 consists of cottages, four interconnected apartment buildings, an assisted-living facility and a facility for individuals with memory loss and dementia. It has several community activity spaces including a pool, a fitness facility, a community woodworking shop, and a common dining room. 

OceanView residents have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, and staff have increased the frequency of cleaning common areas. Access to the facility has been limited to essential staff only. Blueberry Lane, which runs through the campus, has been closed to all traffic except for residents, approved vendors, caregivers, and OceanView staff.

Because the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the disease, area nursing homes, assisted living facilities and senior communities have implemented strong precautionary measures. 

Piper Shores, a retirement community in Scarborough, has restricted all visitors other than essential health-care personnel to its Holbrook Assisted Living and Memory Care facility, with the only exception being end-of-life compassionate-care situations. Communal dining, and all group activities have been canceled. 

The Cedars, a retirement community in Portland, has restricted visits at its nursing home, rehabilitation center and assisted-living facility. It has limited visits at its independent-living apartments for those who have traveled to high-risk areas, have flu-like symptoms, or have been in contact with anyone with or being evaluated for COVID-19.  

Late Monday, as the number of cases in the area increased, the town of Falmouth announced its Town Hall and Public Works buildings, which had planned to be closed that day for staff to put social distancing practices in place, would remain closed to the public until March 27, and the town’s transfer station would be closed “effective immediately.” 

Other town closures include the Mason-Motz Activity Center and the day-care center there through March 27, Falmouth Memorial Library, and the Falmouth Food Pantry until further notice.

Corrected March 18, 2020, to clarify that Falmouth Fire-EMS members were healthy and quarantined as a precautionary measure; they did not test positive for coronavirus.

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