We are a bit behind on our updates which we have moved to monthly on the COVID-19 situation in Maine. We would describe the current situation as stable but fragile.
LifeFlight continues to care for known or suspected COVID-19 patients every day. The new normal. As our job is unique to providing care and transport to Maine’s most critically ill and injured population and COVID-19 has so many clinical presentations, we now treat every patient as if they are positive for COVID-19. With the support of our donors we have put in place new equipment and technologies to help us safely care for highly infectious diseases.
While we manage our infectious disease patients, we are also continuing to build out our aviation infrastructure with a new, first-in-the-nation joint project with the FAA, and we are getting closer in raising funds to replace our oldest helicopters. More on these exciting projects in the next update.
Maine has done a good job of limiting the spread of the virus, but as we continue to open Maine and with the summer season and return of our seasonal residents and tourists, the risk of disease transmission tracks our mobility and economic reset.
The Maine CDC continues to build out testing capacity but patience is needed. Many of the proposed swab and send sites are still in development. Testing is ramping up and while Maine is doing well in national comparisons we are still looking to develop additional capacity. For the closest testing center by zipcode see: https://get-tested-covid19.org/ . Keep a watch as this changes with new sites.
Overall Maine’s numbers are mostly tracking in the right direction. Our positive test rate of 0.84 as compared to goal of less than 3% and our person-to-person transmission rate of 1.0 with a goal of less than .8 is headed in the right direction. Our hospitals have capacity but our case rate (days since new infection), hospitalizations, and death rate (days since last death) while low, still show growth and impact: https://c19hcc.org/resources/decision-support/ . Of concern, our social mobility rate, as measured in aggregated anonymous cell phone locations, is at the baseline of February and last year. As we have seen in other states that opened early, mobility tied with not taking precautions when around other people has led to dramatic surges of new infections.
We know we can win this epic battle against this novel disease but only if we all stay vigilant and work together. With huge effort and disruption, Maine continues to ‘flatten the curve” but as we note at the beginning the overall situation remains fragile. It takes 8-12 weeks to fully appreciate the impact of reopening the state.
As we anticipate blueberry season and the sun hopefully returning after long weeks of fog and rain, here is what we all can do:
Think about your “bubbles” starting with your family and expanding. Keep your family safe.https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/05/new-zealand-quarantine-bubble-concept-america.html
Practice the 4 W’s at all the time:Wear masksWash handsWatch your distanceWhat are your symptoms? (If you feel sick stay home and call your physician or go to the ED/urgent care center if needed)
Being outside is good for the body and soul and lessens the chance for infection when in group activities.
If you feel very sick, for any reason, call 911 and go the ED if needed. It is safe and may save your life.If you are arriving from out of state, please follow the “Keep Maine Healthy” guidelines on testing or quarantine. Communities across the state are building resources to help new arrivals integrate safely.https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectiousdisease/epi/airborne/coronavirus/index.shtmlhttps://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/faqs
Remember we are all in this together. LifeFlight is there for you when needed.
Thank you for being there for us.
On behalf of the LifeFlight team,
Thomas Judge, Paramedic Executive Director
Norm Dinerman, MD, FACEP Medical Director