ORONO — As Thanksgiving approaches, the University of Maine System is seeing a spike of COVID-19 cases among students and staff.
On Nov. 9, there were 45 known cases of Coronavirus across the seven schools in the University of Maine System.
In the five days since then, that number has almost doubled to 88.
UMS spokesman Dan Demeritt said the significant increase stems from the university’s effort to send their students home safely by implementing 8,000 asymptomatic tests for them before they leave.
“That’s been driving our numbers higher in the University of Maine System, along with the numbers we’re seeing in Maine communities as a result of community transmission across the state,” Demeritt said.
He added that Sunday’s reports showed a 13 case increase from the day before, which is the highest single-day increase in cases since the beginning of the semester.
He said the students who have active cases are stuck on campus until they are cleared by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and University of Maine officials to safely go home.
“So the University of Maine system universities have been making plans to accommodate those students. We’ll be delivering Thanksgiving meals and providing additional care, comfort and support to any student whose not able to travel home safely,” Demeritt says.
The rest of the fall semester will be held remotely.
He said officials already have a plan for the spring.
There will be arrival testing, semester long screening and a cancellation of spring break to keep the case numbers down next year.
“The one wrinkle we hope to be able to deal with during the spring semester is vaccination. We’re very eager to be a part of Maine’s distribution and solution when it comes to getting a vaccine distributed to the people of Maine, when that becomes available to us,” Demeritt said.