Coping With Covid

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Join the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force as Leslie Hyde facilitates a conversation that is sure to help us all through the changing world of coronavirus and its impact.  Discussion will include:  identifying appropriate coping strategies for stressful times, techniques for self-care, and coping strategies for yourself and your loved ones.  Guests are Greg Marley, Supervisor at NAMI and best-selling author/lecturer, and Kate Braestrup, an esteemed Chaplain for the Maine Game Warden’s Service.

Why is Yarmouth testing wastewater?

With state/federal grant funding, Yarmouth is in the early stages of a project to test our town’s wastewater for signs of the COVID-19 virus. While the testing technology is fairly new, it’s now being used in a number of towns and cities including Augusta, Portland, and Boston. Montana’s Healthy Gallatin Program has been testing waste water in Gallatin County for COVID-19 since March. They capture this data weekly for Bozeman, Big Sky, and West Yellowstone. It is also being used at the University of Arizona, where it detected evidence of the virus in a student dormitory’s wastewater and allowed the University to intervene very early to prevent a larger outbreak.

People pay little mind to a toilet flush once its contents disappear into the maze of pipes that lead to a municipal sewage treatment facility to be processed. But that wastewater is a valuable resource in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, according to researchers at Montana State University.

The results of their weekly tests suggest that wastewater measurements are a reliable early indicator of the local presence of the virus and disease. Presence of COVID-19 virus in wastewater tracked well with outbreaks of the disease in the Montana cities they tested.

Because asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals can be infected with COVID-19 virus and spread the virus and disease for a week or more before showing symptoms, early detection of increased levels of the virus in wastewater could help health officials identify potential outbreaks of COVID-19 and intervene early to isolate infected individuals, quarantine contacts, and implement social distancing and other measures to reduce virus transmission before a tide of sickened patients seek testing and medical treatment.

This project is a collaboration of the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force and the Town of Yarmouth. Yarmouth plans to test wastewater weekly for the next six months. The wastewater sample will be gathered at the town level and not tied to any specific site. The level of the COVID-19 virus over time will be useful as an indicator of the presence of COVID-19 in our community during this time period. The testing begins the week of 9/21/2020.

The process is fairly simple. Samples will be captured at the Yarmouth Wastewater Treatment Facility and sent to a lab at St. Joseph College to isolate RNA (genetic material) from the wastewater and then test the RNA for SARS-CoV-2 specific RNA (SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19). Two parts of the nucleocapsid gene (N1 and N2) from the SARS-Co-V-2 genome must be found in the sample to be considered positive.

When the virus is found in a sample, the lab will estimate how many viral particles are present. This helps us understand whether viral levels found in wastewater are going up, staying the same, or going down from week to week.

Testing results will only represent the people in the Yarmouth community who use the wastewater system—not those on private septic systems. This means that wastewater results will not reflect all new infections and cases of COVID-19. Wastewater testing is one promising piece of the complex COVID-19 puzzle. We’re still learning about this new virus, how it spreads, and how our actions impact the number of new confirmed cases.

The Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force members, the town leadership, and the health officer will use these test results, along with many other pieces of information, to decide how best to support the health of the town.

More information will be available as the project progresses.

Student Coronavirus Art Showcase

In this time of great uncertainty and stress, Yarmouth children are stepping up in a big way to teach the community about the coronavirus and how to stay healthy. As part of a new community-wide project sponsored by the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force, K-12 children are submitting their original artwork through May 31st for virtual display on school websites and community social media sites.

Amid growing frustration among citizens about new rules, park access restrictions, and social distancing guidelines, the task force turned to local children for help. Their heartwarming submissions include encouraging messages to lift our spirits, gratitude to those working on the front lines, reminders about how to stay safe and make positive choices, and calls for action to help others in need.

The Yarmouth Student Coronavirus Art Showcase is a truly collaborative effort sponsored by the town’s task force which includes representatives from the school department, police department, fire and rescue, food pantry, Yarmouth Community Services, Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors, Southern Maine Agency on Aging, the Rotary Club of Yarmouth and other local service organizations. Art supplies for this project were generously donated by the Yarmouth Education Foundation and marketing assistance was provided by Artascope, a local art studio. All children participating in the project will be entered into a raffle for gift cards to Yarmouth businesses that are popular with students. Most of the gift cards were donated by residents as an effort to support local small businesses. In addition to the Art Showcase, the task force is coordinating grocery delivery for Yarmouth residents, school supply distribution to students, a call center to help answer resident questions (207-846-4763), referrals for emotional support, cards and letters to nursing home residents, and mask making by the Yarmouth Sewing Warriors.

For more information about the Art Showcase or other task force initiatives, please
contact the Yarmouth Community Coronavirus Task Force on Facebook or at

The student art can be seen online at
Yarmouth ME K-12 Epidemic Art – Images | Mother-Daughter Press