COMMUNITY ADVISORY - Wastewater Testing Point to Potential Increase in COVID-19 in Yarmouth

The Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force is issuing this advisory to alert you that we are facing a potential increase in cases of COVID-19 in our community.  Recent wastewater testing shows extremely high levels of the virus that causes COVID-19 in town.  Please protect yourself, your family and the community by getting vaccinations or boosters, wear masks, maintain social distance, meet outdoors and think of ventilation, get tested, and wash your hands. 

The Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force (YCCTF) is issuing an advisory due to a marked increase in coronavirus levels in wastewater tests.  We need your help to reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus in the coming weeks. The most recent wastewater test results (collected between August 25th and September 21st) show some of the highest levels of coronavirus since January of this year, a clear indication that the virus remains pervasive in our community in spite of the low case numbers that are being reported for our community.   It is our belief that the COVID-19 case numbers being reported by the Maine CDC are an undercount because of a number of factors beyond their control including: 

·       Limited availability of tests (both PCR and antigen) and therefore fewer tests being administered. There are constraints at every step of the supply chain for testing right now; 

·       A backup in laboratory processing in the state laboratory (HETL) and constraints in data management in the CDC during the surge; 

·       Home test results not being captured in the data collection process; and 

·       A large number of asymptomatic cases in individuals who can spread and shed virus in spite of being unaware that they are carrying the virus.  

As a consequence, we believe that the wastewater data provides the most representative depiction of the prevalence of coronavirus in our community, and it is telling us that the virus is pervasive in our community.

With these sustained levels of virus in the wastewater, we anticipate continued cases in the Yarmouth community for both last week and the coming weeks. We are proud of the fact that a large percentage of our community is vaccinated, and it has had a significant impact on lowering reported cases in town. However, with the emergence of the Delta variant, the spread of coronavirus among the unvaccinated and the emergence of breakthrough cases among those who have been vaccinated, we feel that we need to remind our fellow citizens that we must all continue our vigilance and continue to practice social distancing and wearing masks to minimize exposure to and spread of this new and aggressive strain of the coronavirus.

Additionally, we encourage those who are eligible for vaccination (or booster shots) to get vaccinated. It is simply the best way to stop this deadly virus in its tracks.

If you think you have symptoms please get tested. Beyond masks and social distancing, this is the best way to fight the virus and keep your loved ones and our community safe. The constraints and shortages with testing will ease up in the next weeks with new test sites opening in southern Maine, including a weekly testing clinic in Yarmouth beginning Monday October 4th· In addition more home kits will be available soon. People were getting discouraged and state testing volumes are down but it will improve.

If you have tested positive or have otherwise been diagnosed as a COVID-19 case, isolate immediately for 10 days. Call the YCCTF at (207) 846-4763 to get support to do this. See these guidelines on isolation from the Maine CDC.

Remember to tell your close contacts so they can begin quarantine and get tested.

• If you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please quarantine for 10 days. We welcome you to call the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force at (207) 846-4763 to get information about how to do this. Consult with these guidelines on quarantine from the Maine CDC.

– If you need help to stay at home, services are readily available in our community. Local organizations and individuals are available to get groceries or essentials, assist with rent relief, unemployment, and bring sanitizing supplies or other necessities. To access any of these services you may call Yarmouth Community Services (207) 846-2406, the YCCTF (207) 846-4763, 211, or send a self-referral using this form: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/form/covid-19-referral-form. The referral for will assist you to locate testing, vaccine, food, or any help you need.

.·Check out these free services from Maine state and local agencies.