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COVID-19 Daily Update: Total cases now at 2,189, COVID-19-related deaths rise to 84 Featured

March 30, 2020
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A note from our editor

 

DAILY UPDATE: Current information as of 5 p.m. Thurssday, May 28

AUGUSTA - Deaths related to COVID-19 rose by three Thursday to 84, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC). Total cases also climbed sharply as 52 new cases were reported, bringing Thurssday's cumulative total to 2,189.

Total cases in Penobscot County rose by one to 100 on Thursday, its first rise since last week. The county recorded its first death May 14, and 87 of those cases have recovered. This indicates net active cases remained steady at 12 Thursday. According to Dr. Nirav Shah, director for the Maine CDC,, Penobscot County is one of four official "community transmission" counties in the state, meaning a certain ratio of disease transmission is happening from sources that cannot be contact traced. However, the county has not had nearly the amount of growth in new cases as Maine's three other community transmission counties of Cumberland, York and Androscoggin.

Thursday's figures also showed 264 of all cases required hospitalization or are currently hospitalized (including 17 in Penobscot), 1,402 have recovered and 518 cases involve healthcare workers. Shah said previously that the ratio of healthcare workers testing positive to general infections was expected to rise as the Maine CDC conducts universal testing at the long-term care and congregate settings and with the testing of healthcare workers being a priority in general. Previously the ratio of cases involving heathcare workers was running about the same as the national average of 21 percent; it went as high as 23 percent last week and remains at that percentage as of Wednesday.

While total cases continue to rise across the state, net active cases - determined by subtracting those who recovered or died from total cases - dropped 13 from Tuesday to 699 on Wednesday, which was the first decrease seen in about two weeks. However, the new cases reported Thursday drove that figure back upward to 703. Previously, active cases were showing a steady decline until the new outbreak at Tyson's poultry processing plant in Portland was discovered several weeks ago. Since then, about a dozen other outbreaks have been identified in either congregate or employer settings and Shah has attributed most of the new case growth from those outbreaks.

According to the latest data, 22 cases out of the current 58 hospitalizations are in ICUs and 14 are on ventilators, while 36 are hospitalized outside those units.

 

About 43,480 PCR (active RNA swab) tests and 3,463 antibody tests have tested negative, while 198 antibody tests have tested positive. Including those tests that were deemed indeterminate, 49,792 tests have been conducted across the state as of May 27, up just over 9,000 from May 20 - that statisic is only updated once a week.

 

Shah provided an update last week regarding cases at several congregate settings and long-term care facilities. Below is a breakdown of Maine's outbreaks:

 

Open and closed outbreaks in Maine

Residents

Staff

Deaths

Total

100 State Street - Portland

20

0

0

20

Augusta Center for Rehabilitation

48

28

7

76

Bluestar Homecare - Biddeford

1

4

0

5

Bristol Seafood - Portland

0

15

0

15

Brook House

6

10

0

16

Cape Memory Care - Cape Elizabeth

47

21

0

67

Cianbro Construction

0

26

0

26

Clover Health Care - Auburn

4

18

0

22

Coastal Community Care Maple - Lewiston

2

2

0

3

Creative Works - Westbrook

2

4

0

6

Durgin Pines - Kittery

2

3

0

5

Edgewood Rehab - Farmington

17

6

1

23

Falmouth by the Sea - Falmouth

42

28

3

70

Granite Bay Care - Brunswick

2

6

0

8

Granite Bay Care - Windham

2

4

0

6

Hope House - Bangor

18

4

0

22

Maine Vets Home - Scarborough

35

27

14

62

Maple House - Spurwink

1

6

0

7

Oxford Street Shelter - Portland

12

3

0

15

Port Resources - South Portland

7

5

0

12

Residential Community Support Services - Biddeford

1

3

0

4

Seal Rock - Saco

1

2

0

3

Springbrook Center - Westbrook

31

11

2

42

Tall Pines - Belfast

32

11

13

43

The Cedars - Portland

11

6

3

17

Tyson Foods - Portland

0

55

0

55

Ubuntu Care Center - Lewiston

0

4

0

4

Woodfords Family Services - South Portland

2

1

0

3

Total

346

313

43

659

(data courtesy of Maine CDC)

 

Previously reported outbreaks have largely been unchanged. Shah said last week about 40 percent of all long-term care setting cases have recovered and the mortality rate of those particular cases is around 14 percent, meaning 46 percent of all long-term care settings are still active. This week, the mortality rate among LTC residents increased to 15.4 percent. Overall, 43 of the 78 deaths in Maine - just shy of 59 percent - involve residents from those facilities. In the case of Tall Pines and Augusta Rehab, no new cases have been reported the last two weeks indicating that the facilities have been free of new infections beyond the virus' 14-day incubation and infection period.

 

According to Shah, three of the four counties designated as community transmission counties - Cumberland, York and Androscoggin - continue to see marked growth in cases. Cumberland County remains the hardest hit across the state with a total of 1,092 confirmed cases, followed by York with 370 and Androscoggin at 264. Although not designated a community transmission county, Kennebec County has been the fourth hardest hit with 128 cases due to outbreaks in congregate or LTC settings. With COVID-19 cases reported in all 16 counties, Shah continues to stress that everyone should act as if the virus is present everywhere at all times.

 

Nationally, there are now 1,712,816 cases across the U.S. - up over 20,000 from Wednesday - and the death toll reached the 100K milestone late Wednesday afternoon. Total U.S. deaths were reported at 101,196, up nearly 1,200 according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. Worldwide, infections have now topped 5.93 million with 358,067 deaths - the U.S. has been a major contributor to the growth in both cases and deaths and testing efforts have expanded markedly across the country. Recently, however, Brazil and other places in the southern hemisphere are reporting sharp spikes as those countries head into autumn. According to national reports, U.S. officials believe China, where the virus orginated and of which COVID-19's existence was reportedly kept secret from the world for a period of weeks - likely resulting in the pandemic's current severity - continues to report numbers that remain suspect.

 

Other major developments (by day):

 

May 27

Go. Janet Mills announced restuarants in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties will remained closed to dine-in service as Stage 2 of Maine's reopening plan takes effect June 1. Stage 2 involves reopening retail outlets, restaurants, fitness and excercise centers, nail technicians, lodging, campgrounds and children's day camps for Maine residents and those who have met the 14-day quarantine requirement, and coastal state parks.

 

Previously, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said gyms and nail salons across the state would not be permitted to reopen June 1 due to COVID-19 transmission concerns observed in other states where they have reopened. Mills added restaurants to that delay Wednesday for the three community transmission counties due to continued case growth of COVID-19, while taking Penobscot County off that list since the county has only had an average of three cases a day since April.

 

"I know this is not welcome news for those restaurants who have been preparing to fully reopen next week," Mills said Wednesday. "It is our hope that by reopening for outdoor dining and curbside pickup and take out, we can still protect the public health and perhaps lessen the economic hardship that these businesses are are enduring."

 

May 18

Mills and Shah announced that the new IDEXX PCR testing machines were up and running and the state's Health and Environmental Lab (HETL) now has the capacity to process up to 1,000 tests per day on the new equipment. Correspondingly, Mills announced the testing priorities and tiers that were in place were recinded and new guidelines were established, including testing specimens from any person who has one or more symptoms, and testing those who are asymptomatic but may be at risk of speading COVID-19 to others. 

 

May 15

Maine Department of Education Commissioner Pender Makin announced that her department has secured internet access and devices for all of Maine's children who were in need of it to complete their learning. Of the 21,845 students statewide lacking connectivity, based on data from the 75 percent of schools that responded, 14,494 students needed a wireless contract and 7,351 students needed only a device in order to have equitable access to online learning opportunities.

 

Through a combined effort with the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, ConnectME, and business and philanthropic entities, the Maine Department of Education (Maine DOE) has acquired 14,494 service contracts through three different service providers, nearly all of which are for WiFi-enabled Samsung Galaxy Tablets that can be used as learning tools and hotspots or hotspots only. Through one of the service providers, DOE was also able to order MiFi, a wireless router that acts as a mobile WiFi hotspot, to fulfill internet-only needs. To fulfill the device only needs, Maine DOE was able to order 7,450 Chromebooks.

 

Shah said the state has received another seven cases of Remdesivir, the antiviral drug from Gilead Sciences that has shown some success in treating the symptoms of the virus. This is in addition to the 10 cases Shah said the state received earlier in the week. The intravenous drug has already been shipped to hospitals across the state. 

 

May 14

Maine Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson said Thursday that the lodging industry can now begin taking reservations for in-state residents and those who have already traveled to Maine and satisfied the 14-day quarantine to begin lodging as of June 1. The restrictions for taking reservations for out-of-state travelers remains in place as the date those travelers can come to the state is currently set for July 1. 

 

May 13

Mills signed an order Wednesday extending Maine’s state of civil emergency for thirty days through June 11, 2020. It was Mills' second extension of the State of Civil Emergency and, by doing so, Mills said it gives her more time to access federal disaster and pandemic funding and allows her to continue using certain powers to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The new order is distinct from the Governor’s Executive Orders and from the Restarting Maine’s Economy plan. The Governor’s Executive Orders and the Restarting Maine’s Economy plan remain in effect and unchanged.

 

May 8

Mills announced Friday modified reopening plans for Maine's 12 rural counties that have not been deemed community transmission counties by the Maine CDC. She said Stage 1 restrictions will still be in place in the remaining four that have been deemed counties where community transmission are still occuring. She added that her "Stay Safer at Home" executive order will remain in place for the entire state.

 

May 7

Mills announced that the state has entered into a partnership with Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook, Maine that will triple Maine's testing capacity, which may affect the plan to reopen as testing ramps up.

 

May 5

Shah provided an update about antibody testing, a milestone epidemiologists state will aid in reopening and determine what the true infection rate is among the population. He said there are a lot of questions surrounding the testing, and even more questions about the reliability of tests that are currently available.

 

"Right now, there are a lot of different tests that are on the market for antibody testing. Some of them are very good, others of them are lacking," Shah said. "In fact, some of the ones that are out there right now in the United States haven't even received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration."

 

He added that some of the tests have been studied and the numbers have been disturbing, comparing their reliability to a coin toss.

 

"Given the number of different tests that are out there, it's really difficult to know whether the test that you might be getting is one of the really good ones or whether it's more akin to a coin flip," he said.

 

April 28

Mills announced her "Stay Safer at Home" executive order, extending the state of emergency until May 31. In doing so, she rolled out her four-stage plan to reopen Maine's economy, which in all respects has been decimated by the shutdowns. 

 

April 16

Mills issued an order that bars landlords from evicting their tenants during the pandemic. She also announced a new $5 million relief fund that would grant one-time $500 payments for eligible tenants who cannot pay their rent due to income loss.

 

"We are limiting evictions during this state of emergency," she said. "The order that I signed applies to commerical ventures as well as small businesses and homes and rental apartments."

 

Mills said the order strengthens penalties for landlords and property owners who try to evict someone unlawfully, especially since courts and the eviction process are essentially closed. In addressing mortgages and foreclosures, she added that while the federal CARES act put a moratorium on forclosures for federally-backed loans, she reached out to Maine-based banks and credit unions to do the same.

 

"I am urging them in the strongest terms to avoid initiating residential and commercial foreclosures and to pause any foreclosures that may be in progress," she said. "I'm urging them to refrain from mailing notices to cure to Maine residences and Maine businesses as long as this moratorium is in effect." 

 

April 3

Mills ordered the closure of all hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, inns and short-term rentals and put in place the requirement that all travelers arriving in Maine self-quarantine for 14 days. The order is still in effect with lodging able to open to Maine residents June 1 as part of stage 2, and out-of-state tourists on July 1 as part of stage 3, provided they self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. Some lodging remained open to house essential healthcareand, utility and other workers.

Mills also previously moved the primary election to July 14.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and lower respiratory distress. Individuals who exhibit those symptoms are advised to contact medical providers before going to a health care facility. Medical providers will make initial determinations about who should be tested.

Last modified on Thursday, 28 May 2020 18:32

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