RUMFORD, Maine — Maine CDC Director Dr. Shah said Tuesday that Maine CDC has identified 21 cases among people associated with the ND Paper mill in Rumford.
On Thursday, Dr. Shah updated the mill's case total to 23.
Dr. Shah said Maine CDC's initial analysis is that the cases seem to be focused on one part of the mill. However, he said Maine CDC is also concerned that transmission may have occurred outside of the workplace.
The Maine CDC confirmed Tuesday that one mill employee has died with the virus.
In a statement, Amy Lee, Director of Communications at ND Paper said, “as you probably know, COVID-19 cases in Oxford County have doubled in past 21 days. With that, we’ve felt the impact in our mill. We’re exceptionally saddened to confirm an employee passed away; we recently learned the Maine CDC classified this passing as COVID-related.”
United Steelworkers Local 900 Union President Gary Hemmingway had confirmed to NEWS CENTER Maine last Tuesday (Sept. 15) that there were four positive COVID-19 cases among people associated with the Rumford mill. According to Maine CDC, that number has now grown to 23.
The facility has been working with Maine CDC to test all employees.
"Some are very sick," Judilee Whittemore, the union's recording secretary, said in a Facebook post on Monday, Sept. 14. At that time the union was only reporting four confirmed cases.
"If you have any symptoms at all please do not go to work!!!! Do not lie and say you’re ok! That does not help anyone!!stay home and call the HR department," Whittemore said in the post. "Also wearing a mask is not optional!! It’s mandatory or you’re not getting in! They have worded some already n sent one person home as well. If you don’t believe in masks or COVID, then that’s your opinion but while you’re at work you need to think of others safety and just do the right thing!!"