County receives 400 COVID-19 test kits for first responders

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests produce results in 15 minutes
Thu, 11/19/2020 - 8:00am

    Local emergency medical service first responders will now know within 15 minutes if they test positive for COVID-19. Emergency Management Agency Director Casey Stevens reported Nov. 16 the agency received 10 boxes with 40 BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests this month. Stevens told Lincoln County commissioners during their bi-weekly meeting, the department received the tests from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and state Department of Health and Human Services. Stevens plans to distribute the tests to EMS agencies throughout Lincoln County. “This is for public safety purposes. This will provide test results for first responders so they can preform their duties knowing they aren’t infected with the virus,” Stevens said.

    The 15-minute test is 99.96% accurate for negative results, according to Stevens. If a test shows a positive result, Stevens reported it does not necessarily mean a person has contracted COVID-19. “There are false positives. If this happens then a traditional swab test is done. The 15-minute test also provides for our local first providers to  know immediately, and they can keep working without being required to isolate,” he said.

    Stevens also received approval to buy one of two budgeted radio transmitters. Commissioners previously approved using Homeland Security grants to buy an antenna and power system. Commissioners added purchasing a 10-watt transmitter for the AM radio site on Hunt Hill in Newcastle. Watt reported the 10-watt transmitter will be used daily for testing and ensuring the system is operational. Stevens reported a 500 watt transmitter will be purchased next and located at the Hunt Hill site for emergency broadcasting. The 10-watt transmitter’s cost is $3,890. 

    In other action, Lincoln County Facilities Director Matt Huntley received approval to seek a 10-year exemption from the Department of Environmental Protection for removing a fuel tank. The tank was bought in 1990 and required by state statute to be replaced after 30 years. In July, the tank reached its 30-year milestone, but the state allows a 10-year exemption if the facility is updated to meet new state codes. County officials estimate the upgrade would cost around $18,000 compared to replacing the tank for an estimated $400,000. Huntley hopes to start the upgrade before “snow flies.”

    Eventually, the tank will be removed, but the exemption provides county officials time to plan its replacement.

    “We’ve started a capital improvement account, but we are nowhere near what is needed for replacement. The exemption will give us time to build up the account,” County Administrator Carrie Kipfer said. 

    Commissioners approved digitization of 14 volumes of county records dating from 1761 to 1990 and replacing two badly worn recycling center loading dock doors. Commissioners unanimously approved $44,445 for digitizing and restoring 14 volumes of bound county records. The volumes contain over two centuries of documents, deeds, and tax and road maps. Commissioners authorized Profile of Essex, Vermont to preserve the historic documents which are still used in researching local roads’ history.

    Commissioners chose Lee’s Garage Door Service of Dresden to repair the aging recycling center’s two loading dock doors. Lee’s bid of $5,689.58 to replace two doors, an abutment and a cap over the doors. “There is no cap now,” Kipfer said. “When it rains or snows, ice builds up. This is a dangerous situation. The doors are mangled and I don’t think they will last the winter.”

    County officials announced the dates for another “Farm to Family” event. In October, six sites provided over 1,500 boxes of free food to local residents. In December, Healthy Lincoln County will host two events providing over 1,600 boxes. On Dec. 1, food will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Wiscasset, and on Dec. 9, boxes will be distributed from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. in Waldoboro. 

    Two Maine Department of Transportation notice of takings were announced. Both are in Dresden for replacing culverts on routes 127 and 128.

    Commissioners meet next at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1.