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Maine CDC investigating COVID-19 outbreak at Sunday River

Eight of the resort's approximately 1,100 employees are currently positive for the virus, with 17 others diagnosed since the Nov. 23 opening.

NEWRY, Maine — The Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) is currently investigating eight active cases of COVID-19 at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry.

The resort, which employs 1,100 people and includes three hotels and 11 restaurants, has seen a total of 25 cases since it opened for the season on Nov. 23, spokeswoman Karolyn Castaldo said Wednesday. Twenty staff members are currently in quarantine—most after being in close contact with someone who tested positive and others due to circumstances unrelated to Sunday River.

Castaldo said Wednesday that the cases don't seem to have a common thread other than some who work in close contact with each other or share a household.

Staff who exhibited symptoms or who were in close contact with the who tested positive were sent home to await test results or isolate for the recommended 10 days.

RELATED: 701 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Maine Wednesday; 11 more deaths

Castaldo said 20 guests have been notified through contact tracing that they may have been in close contact with a guest or staff member who tested positive.

"If a ski school parent reaches out, we notify other parents," Cataldo said.

Sunday River enforces "stringent mask policies" and daily health screenings, Castaldo said, and offers on-site testing for anyone who has possibly been exposed.

RELATED: How the Maine ski season is shaping up amid the pandemic

The resort has reduced the number of visitors to the resort, which Castaldo said results in about half as many skiers on weekends and holidays.

Robert Long, spokesman for the Maine CDC, said Wednesday that CDC staff is focusing on the investigation, not the "outbreak."

“Unless we tell you otherwise, an outbreak is a reflection of community transmission," he told NEWS CENTER Maine. "It’s just that the virus is everywhere. Four months ago, if there was an outbreak at a worksite or gathering place, it would be pretty likely there was some transmission there – if it wasn’t the origin, it was a catalyst – but now … the law of averages is that places that employ lots of people and get lots of visitors, they’re likely to see cases.” 

Nearby Sugarloaf Mountain has one staff member among approximately 1,000 currently diagnosed with COVID-19, spokesman Ethan Austin said, and 14 others since they opened Nov. 23.

In all cases, staff members were able to trace transmission of the virus to sources other than Sugarloaf, he said. Lodging and restaurants remain open.