COVID-19 Community Update — August 21

Dear University of Maine community members:

This weekend, I am writing to provide further context regarding the three positive COVID-19 cases in the University of Maine community and additional information about the comprehensive, science-based plans we have in place for surveillance and response.

Those three cases involved two off-campus students who share an apartment, and one living in a fraternity house. To our knowledge, the two cases are unrelated to the third, and none of the three involved group gatherings.

As I indicated yesterday in my community message and reiterate here: The University of Maine System’s phase one testing program is working as intended at the University of Maine. Our COVID-19 Response Team’s efforts to address reports of positive cases, including contact tracing, are underway. And our efforts and those of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to work with students and other community members in quarantine or isolation are working.

Currently, 15 students identified through contact tracing are in quarantine awaiting test results. UMaine and Maine CDC are in regular contact with our students, providing support and updates as we await results.

We have been planning for the real possibility of COVID cases since April. The UMaine community is larger than most Maine towns and we are undertaking the state’s largest asymptomatic screening protocol to identify otherwise undetected cases. We will be testing approximately 6,000 students before classes begin, with a second phase of testing planned the following week.

As of today, the one positive case identified at UMaine through our asymptomatic screening is the only one out of 520 test results on campus and 1,366 reported results processed across the University of Maine System.

We also are implementing a robust public health and science-based safety campaign to protect our students and communities, and to limit community spread. The ongoing reality that COVID is among us serves as a powerful reminder that we must all adhere to the safeguards and personal safety practices we have implemented as part of our UMaine safe return plan.

Students, staff and faculty must all exercise an abundance of caution on campus, in the community, and in our residence halls and homes. If you haven’t yet, please join the more than 5,170 students who signed our Black Bear Pact, committing to follow all federal, state, UMaine and UMS health and safety guidance. The only way to maximize our collective well-being is to collectively comply with all of our safety measures.

The following fact sheet was shared with the media today. Further insights on UMaine safe return plans, including information on testing for students, procedures for quarantine and self-isolation, and all other measures in place, are on the UMaine safe return website:

I look forward to our safe return.


Joan Ferrini-Mundy


University of Maine COVID-19 Fact Sheet

12 p.m, August 22, 2020


Current incidence

  • Three positive cases in isolation — two sharing an apartment, one student living in a fraternity house
  • Number of close contacts in quarantine, including two non-students sharing an apartment — 15
  • No known direct connection between two students in off-campus apartment and fraternity member, and no known large-group interactions
  • Number of asymptomatic tests completed on campus — 520
  • All students in isolation and quarantine supported by UMaine and Maine CDC
  • UMaine COVID-19 Response Team was activated with the first positive case reported by Maine CDC on Aug. 20; investigated and managed the two subsequent cases and close contacts

Additional facts

  • UMaine is the state’s largest university. It has been planning and preparing for fall 2020 safe return for months, in concert with the University of Maine System.
  • Based on national statistics, positive test results were expected and planned for. On-campus PCR diagnostic testing has been ongoing in July and August for cohorts of students involved in special group activities. We expect to test upward of 6,000 UMaine out-of-state and residential students during move-in week starting Monday, Aug. 24. 
  • Unless residential students bring documentation of negative PCR test results within 72 hours of date of arrival, they will receive a PCR test on campus, provided through a partnership with ConvenientMD and Jackson Laboratory. While waiting for test results, students will self-quarantine. Test results are expected in 24–72 hours.
  • UMaine continues its proactive responses and public health campaign that includes safety and prevention, and stands ready to support students and the community. That includes three phases of testing, as well as contact tracking.
  • UMaine Emergency Operations Center continues to monitor state and federal coronavirus guidance and updates, and stands ready to respond to the evolving pandemic circumstances. 
  • UMaine EOC collaborates with UMS EOC, UMS Scientific Advisory Board, Maine CDC, Maine Emergency Management Agency and our local partners within an established, tested communication framework. 
  • A specialized COVID-19 Response Team has been established within the EOC and is charged with overseeing the management of each COVID-19-related event. 
  • UMaine’s public health campaign, Black Bears Care, includes the Black Bear Pact, signed by more than 5,170 students. It also can be signed by employees.
  • Anyone with questions related to the UMaine community can call the COVID information line, 207.581.2681.