UMaine Targets COVID Cluster Among Facilities Management Administrative Employees

Ten cases of COVID-19 have been identified and isolated among administrative Facilities Management employees at the University of Maine.  Temporary closure of the Facilities Management office building, contact tracing, testing for approximately 240 facilities employees, including building custodians, increased wastewater testing, and review of a limited staffing continuity of operations plan are part of the University’s strategy to contain the spread of infection and protect student and community health.   

The University of Maine System will report two known, active cases of COVID-19 among its resident student population — one each at UMFK and USM — in its Together for Maine update on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Orono, Maine — President Joan Ferrini-Mundy convened a meeting of the University of Maine’s Emergency Operations Center early Saturday morning focused on targeting a cluster of COVID-19 cases involving ten individuals in facilities management.  All-but-one of the employees work in administrative roles and they are all isolating in private residences with the support of the University and in coordination with the Maine CDC.  Some employees have experienced symptoms. There have been no hospitalizations.

“We are hopeful that all individuals in our communities who have tested positive and are afflicted or impacted by COVID-19 will have good health and rapid recovery, and will experience quarantine and isolation periods that progress easily,” said President Ferrini-Mundy. 

Most of the ten known cases have been identified through university testing deployed once campus officials learned of the first case of COVID-19 involving an individual in the Facilities Management offices.  The UMaine contact tracing team has been working closely to support individuals and to follow up with community members who may need to quarantine or get tested.

All 240 Facilities Management employees, including 80 members of the custodial team, will be tested to identify and isolate any additional cases of infection.  Forty-three individuals have already been tested and the remaining tests will occur early this week.

At the direction of President Ferrini-Mundy the Facilities Management team will be implementing a limited-staffing continuity of operations plan.  The plan limits on-campus Facilities Management staffing while still maintaining critical functions necessary for the safe, on-going operation of Maine’s Flagship University.  Staff directed not to come to campus will continue to receive their regular wages.

President Ferrini-Mundy updated students and employees on the number of cases impacting community members and the steps taken to contain the COVID-19 cluster identified by university testing within the Facilities Management administrative offices.  She also urged students, faculty, and staff to continue their public health leadership. 

“With community transmission increasingly strong and widespread in Maine, members of the UMaine community must be more vigilant and more committed than ever to best practices in health and safety,” wrote Ferrini-Mundy.  

UMaine:  No Residence Hall Cases and Plans for 7,000 Tests Before Thanksgiving

There are no known cases of COVID-19 among the University of Maine’s residence hall student population.  In today’s Together for Maine Update UMaine will report that five off-campus students are known to be in active isolation under Maine CDC guidance.

The University of Maine will administer approximately 7,000 tests for COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff this month to continue to identify and isolate incidents of infection to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and as students depart campus for the Thanksgiving-break transition to remote learning for the rest of the semester.

UMS Has Two Known Cases Involving Residence Hall Students:  A University of Maine at Fort Kent residence hall student and a University of Southern Maine residence hall student will be the only on-campus students in active isolation across the University of Maine System in today’s update.

“Maine’s public universities have been among the safest institutions in the country throughout the pandemic,” said Chancellor Dannel Malloy,  “The fast, responsive action UMaine is taking to target this COVID cluster is an excellent example of how our university teams are putting students first and working hard to keep our communities safe.”

USM, Maine Law and UMPI Immediately Resuming On-Campus Operations 

The University of Southern Maine and Maine Law temporarily moved to remote operations on Friday, Nov 6, in response to increasing community transmission and following detection of the virus in wastewater sampling at the USM-Gorham campus.  The sample was provisionally interpreted as higher than expected based on the known caseload by the University of Maine System Scientific Advisory Board.  

President Ferrini-Mundy, the chair of the UMS Scientific Advisory Board, and USM President Glenn Cummings convened a meeting Friday, Nov 6. between the SAB and USM’s cabinet to discuss the results of wastewater testing, plans for additional sampling, the known, active caseload at USM, and the containment, safety, and COVID-19 testing strategies being deployed at the University.

Following that discussion President Cummings shared the news that USM would be resuming in-person work and learning starting Saturday Nov. 7.  The message also served as a reminder of the COVID-19 testing schedule for the upcoming week that will include asymptomatic testing of all residential students.  

The University of Maine School of Law will also be resuming on-campus operations, welcoming students, faculty, and staff to the law building Monday, Nov. 9.

UMPI Update — Campus Open Monday:  The University of Maine at Presque Isle also transitioned to remote instruction on Friday, Nov. 6, following identification of its first known active case of COVID-19.  The case involves a university employee.

The campus contingency plan was activated Friday and later that evening President Raymond Rice thanked the university community for its responsiveness and shared that UMPI would be open as scheduled on Monday, Nov 9.