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North Haven grapples with sudden surge of coronavirus cases

After nearly 8 months, the coronavirus pandemic has reached the island of North Haven, which now has 15 total cases.

NORTH HAVEN, Maine — Protected by 12 miles of Penobscot Bay, North Haven had made it through spring, summer, and part of the fall without any cases of COVID-19 as islanders worked to minimize their potential exposure.

Their luck ran out this week, as the town’s administrator notified residents that North Haven now has 13 active cases of the COVID-19, and 2 probable cases.

“Sure we’re disappointed and a bit nervous we have now had a case, it's moved into the range of 15,” Rick Lattimer said, “but I think we will get through it OK.”

 A pandemic is a problem anywhere, but on a remote island, it can be a serious threat. Lattimer and Community Center director Christi Hallowell both said getting to the hospital in an emergency can be uncertain, depending on weather and sea conditions. 

That’s one big reason the town is responding to the jump in cases by asking residents to stay home and limit their exposure.

“If we can keep people home and get through this, so it burns out after this one exposure, that would be fantastic,” Lattimer said.

“It's very, very quiet,” Hallowell said, indicating that islanders so far are complying with the town’s stay-at-home request. “Walking to work on a usual day I’d see five or six cars and today there’s nobody at all. Not seeing anyone at the post office, and very few at the ferry terminal.”

She said people have been surprised to suddenly be confronted with COVID in their midst, but added that the arrival of the virus is “a wakeup call,” for everyone to continue to follow the guidelines to avoid being infected.

The town administrator said there were no new cases revealed on Tuesday, and hopes it stays that way. 

However, both Rick Lattimer and Christi Hallowell said they think the unwelcome arrival of the virus, will change many plans for Thanksgiving. 

The administrator sent another COVID letter to residents Tuesday, outlining all the precautions to take and town resource he suggested they should be postponed this year, saying, “We don’t need to add more people to the mix right now.”