LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — One of Maine's largest hospitals is reinstating strict visitor restrictions after 10 staff members and two patients tested positive for the coronavirus.

Central Maine Medical Center is also suspending outside food, flowers and gifts for hospital patients. The hospital gift shop and fitness center will remain closed instead of reopening this week.

The infections stem from exposure to a patient from a long-term care facility who initially tested negative for coronavirus before being admitted to the hospital. The patient was later retested as positive.

“Exposures such as this underscore the reality that we are not out of the woods yet with this novel virus, which spreads quickly and in ways we still do not fully understand,” said Dr. John Alexander, chief medical officer for Central Maine Healthcare, the hospital's parent company.

It was only the second outbreak at a hospital in Maine since the pandemic began, said Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director.

Central Maine Healthcare is working closely with the Maine Center for Disease Control. Anyone who came into contact with the infected patient is being contacted. The staff members are all self-isolating at home.

In other coronavirus-related news from Maine:



Two more Mainers died over the previous 24 hours, the Maine Center for Disease Control reported Tuesday, while the total number of people who've tested positive grew to 3,838.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.



Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the state is considering whether to loosen the limit on gatherings.

The state released some guidelines for gatherings at outdoor spectator venues on Friday, allowing up to 200 people in four sections of 50 at athletic competitions and concerts with certain stipulations. Those would apply to sporting events, concerts and theatrical performances.

Lambrew said Tuesday that health officials are examining whether the governor can lift the current limit of 50 people for additional events. “We’ll get back to you on this soon,” she said Tuesday.



A medical center that serves two of the hardest-hit counties in Maine is slated to receive a boost from the federal government to offer more coronavirus testing.

Community Clinical Services in Lewiston has been awarded more than $320,000 to expand testing and training capacities, Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King said Monday. The center serves Androscoggin and Cumberland counties, which are two of the three hardest hit counties in the state of Maine in terms of caseload.

The senators said the money has been awarded via the Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act. They said Community Clinical Services will be able to use the money to expand its range of testing and testing-related activities, including contact tracing.

Maine has had more than 3,800 cases of the virus, mostly in the southern part of the state.