BANGOR – The state is trying to test every migrant worker who arrives in Maine to rake blueberries or do any other agricultural work and, so far, has discovered 24 with COVID-19.
Officials say those with the virus and those awaiting test results are being sent to Bangor to quarantine because the farms where they are working do not have the capacity.
“At Hancock Foods there are a total of 11 cases associated with that entity. At Merrill Farms there are a total of nine cases and at the Wyman’s farm there are a total of four cases,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director.
A partnership is working to test as many as possible.
“Maine CDC are working with our colleagues at Maine Mobile Health as well as the community of growers that host the incoming agricultural workers to offer testing to as many of the migrant agricultural workers as possible,” Shad said.
He added, “I can’t tell you with 100 percent certainty that each and every one of them is absolutely tested. I don’t know if that representation or claim could ever be made.”
MaineHousing in partnership with Penobscot Community Health Care has helped to put homeless residents in wellness centers set up at Bangor motels in order to help with social distancing during the pandemic.
Dr. Noah Nesin, medical director for PCHC said last week the same program is being used to quarantine the migrant workers.
Last week, 46 workers stayed in Bangor and that number has only increased as new people arrive in the state. Nesin said of the 46, 10 tested positive and the rest were released to work.
Currently, there are 50 people quarantining in Bangor under the program, according to Robert Long, Maine CDC spokesman.
“It changes hour to hour as folks come in and as they are deemed to be recovered or no longer at risk,” Shah said.