COVID-19 outbreak in Calais concerning for residents of St. Stephen
ST. STEPHEN, N.B. -- The New Brunswick border town of St. Stephen is on alert after a COVID-19 outbreak in the neighbouring community of Calais, Maine.
This comes as cases of the virus continue to rise in the state of Maine -- with more than 100 new cases reported on Friday.
Health officials in Maine are now investigating an outbreak connected to the Second Baptist Church.
"We are working with the Second Baptist Church to determine whether there may have been other individuals who have been exposed, and who should receive testing," said Dr . Nirav Shah, Maine's Center for Disease Control director.
As of Thursday, more than two dozen cases linked to this outbreak have been reported, A situation that hits close to home for residents on the Canadian side of the border.
There are no cases of COVID-19 in the St. Stephen area, but officials are concerned that could change.
"The vast majority of our COVID-19 cases come from those outside the Atlantic bubble, and we know there are about 12,000 people who cross our borders every day for essential reasons and any one of them can carry the virus," said Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health.
St. Stephen mayor Allan MacEachern sums up the feelings in the community.
"People are nervous and they're scared and they're concerned who is travelling across that border, and if they do, are they making unnecessary stops," MacEachern said.
The two border communities are closely linked in many way, including family connections.
St. Stephen resident Darren McCabe says he hasn't seen his sister, who lives just outside Calais, since March.
"I sent her a message saying make sure you get that mask on and wash your hands and do everything you can because I'm worried about her working over there because the cases are growing daily," McCabe said.