MAINE, USA — The month of December brought high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, but on Friday, we saw the highest number of deaths since the pandemic began.
Maine CDC reported 41 COVID-19 related deaths. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said six of those deaths were in the previous 48 hours, and 35 were in the month of December.
Dr. Shah said in his 150th press briefing that there are a few ways the Maine CDC finds out if a person has died from the virus.
He said if a person died in a hospital or long-term care facility, those facilities notify the CDC within a day or two.
If a person passes away from an outbreak at a long-term care facility -- the administrator of that facility notifies the CDC employee investigating the outbreak.
Sometimes, that notification comes from the medical examiner or a funeral home, which can take longer.
"Sometimes that happens immediately and sometimes that process can take many, many days," Dr. Shah added.
Then there are the outbreaks at long term care facilities. Maine DHHS has made sure those facilities train their workers on how best to keep COVID-19 at bay, but Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew admits with a high rate of turnover at some of those facilities, it's time for a refresher course.
"All the good work that we did to educate people last summer needs to be repeated," she said.
Recently, many of the COVID-19 related deaths were out of Aroostook County. Dr. Shah said he and his team are worried about The County, but it doesn't appear that these deaths are associated with any outbreaks there.