AUGUSTA, Maine — "The first thing that anyone who feels they may have been exposed to coronavirus should do is to contact their doctor's office," Dr. Nirav Shah, the Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC), said Wednesday.
Dr. Shah says the Maine CDC has been working with clinicians to make sure they know how to properly evaluate a patient for coronavirus.
Dr. Shah says calling the doctor's office ahead of time is crucial so as to not infect others.
"[Calling ahead of time] will allow the doctor's office to prepare for the arrival of that patient so someone doesn't walk into the front door of the waiting room and potentially infect someone else who isn't feeling well too," Dr. Shah says.
If you don't have a primary care doctor, Dr. Shah recommends contacting an urgent care center.
Dr. Shah says, "We've been working with urgent care centers to make sure they have information about what is going on, and certainly all the doctors who staff urgent care are on our email communications or have attended our webinars."
Not everyone who wants to be tested will be tested. Dr. Shah says only folks who show symptoms of the virus will be tested for it.
"Right now, the U.S. CDC's recommendation is that testing should be given only to folks who have symptoms of coronavirus. That's because we want to make sure when we do the test, we're actually detecting the virus and giving doctors information that helps them make clinical decisions," Dr. Shah said.
"The medical reason that testing folks who don't have symptoms may not be useful is that in order to actually detect the virus in high enough levels, it needs to be at a point where the virus is causing symptoms. If someone doesn't have symptoms and we give them the test, we may not know if they haven't just developed enough of the virus in their body yet for us to be able to detect it."
If you have questions about the coronavirus, as of Wednesday afternoon, you can now call 2-1-1 for information.
Dr. Shah says, "In an effort to make sure that all Maine people have an easy way to get information on coronavirus, the 2-1-1 system will be able to answer general questions about coronavirus. That's to say, 'What's going on? How many people in Maine have coronavirus? What's the latest on travel recommendations?' We urge all Maine people with those kinds of questions to start calling 2-1-1."
As of Wednesday, Maine CDC says 42 Mainers have tested negative for COVID-19, and five tests' results are pending. Dr. Shah says the Maine CDC will send out a press release if there is a positive case of the coronavirus in Maine.
"If you hear about possible cases of coronavirus in your community, unless it's accompanied by a press release from the Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Human Resources, don't believe it yet."
Dr. Shah says the Maine CDC has been diligently preparing to see cases of the coronavirus in Maine.
"Cases in Maine are a possibility. We have seen cases of coronavirus across the Northeast. We have been preparing for the arrival of the coronavirus for over two months."
Dr. Shah concludes, "Cases of the coronavirus in Maine are a possibility, and if that happens, we will let you know."