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'A very concerning perfect storm': Mills urges swift action on federal funding as cases rise and benefits expire

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

MAINE, USA — KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2

The Maine CDC reported four additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 218 deaths.

The Maine CDC reported 232 additional COVID-19 cases Wednesday.

Of the 12,208 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 10,870 are confirmed by tests and 1,338 are probable.

725 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illnesses.

 9,564 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

Gov. Janet Mills will join Wednesday's 2 p.m. state coronavirus update, along with Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. NEWS CENTER Maine will stream it live on air, as well as on our website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and mobile app.

Credit: NCM

Wednesday Coronavirus Briefing

Gov. Mills

Mills, who is quarantining at the Blaine House after being exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, says she has no symptoms but is taking the precautions recommended by the CDC. 

Despite being in quarantine, she says she is working on behalf of Mainers to plan for the distribution of the vaccine. 

"While I'm thrilled the distribution of the vaccine is imminent, it could be here as early as mid-December, [U.S. Health and Human Services] Secretary Azar indicated that states will be bearing part of the cost, which is a concern," Mills said. "Especially when it comes to training public health nurses and others to administer the vaccine."

Mills says most alarming, however, is that it appears the federal government has significantly reduced the estimate of the number of Maine's initial allocation of the Pfizer vaccine from around 30,000 to around 12,685 doses. Mills said that's far less than what's needed for Maine and proportionally for other states. 

Those estimates are not final, and Mills said on a call with Operation Warp Speed, Vice President Pence, Azar, and others, she and other states' governors asked why the estimates were so reduced, and they didn't have an answer for them. 

RELATED: Panel recommends health care workers, long-term care residents get COVID-19 vaccine first

Mills said she's also working with the Maine Delegation to urge swift action on a federal aid package. Federal CARES Act funding expires at the end of the month, jeopardizing the continued operation of Maine's COVID-19 testing sites, the availability of testing materials like Abbott's rapid tests, expanded unemployment benefits for struggling families, and lack of support for small businesses.

"Right now, we're looking in the eye of a perfect storm, it seems to me, and other states agree." Mills said. 

"All this during the holiday season while cases rise...an increase in hospitalizations, increased use of ICU beds, and our positivity rate continues to climb—a very concerning perfect storm," Mills said. 

She says while her administration is preparing for all possibilities, including no relief package, "additional federal funding will be instrumental to Maine's continued efforts to combat the virus and distribute the vaccine effectively and fairly and to chart a course for full economic recovery in the coming months and  years."

Mills said she's grateful to Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King for their work to put forward an additional relief package. She says Collins, King, and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jarden Golden understand how important federal assistance is to Maine and small businesses.

RELATED: Senators Collins, King among group to reveal $908 billion pandemic relief package

"In the meantime, let's do all we can to help ourselves to protect our own health, to help our loved ones, and the health of our fellow Mainers— please, again, I sound like a broken record, but I'm here to say, wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands."

"I know it's tiring, I know it's difficult, people are getting fatigued," Mills said, "the holidays are upon us, we want to pretend that everything's back to normal ho ho ho but it's not. And I also know though that the end is in sight and together we will get through this. We are Maine strong."

Dr. Nirav Shah

The four additional deaths of people with COVID-19 reported Wednesday are:

  • A man in his 80s from Hancock County
  • A woman in her 70s from Kennebec County
  • A woman in her 90s from Oxford County
  • A man in his 80s from Penobscot County

Since Monday's briefing, the Maine CDC has opened the following new outbreak investigations:

  • The Landing at Cape Elizabeth: Three cases
  • Biddeford Intermediate School: Four cases
  • Country Village, an assisted living facility in Casco: 19 cases
  • Blueprints Learning Center in Lebanon: Six cases
  • Sanford High School: Eight cases
  • Community Living Association: Eight cases
  • Half Pints Preschool & Daycare Center in Waterville: Four cases
  • Loving Touch In-Home Care establishment in Bangor: Four cases
  • Presque Isle Rehabilitation and Nursing Home: Nine cases
  • Spectrum Augusta: Three cases

The Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle is experiencing a significant outbreak, which has been exacerbated by challenges in securing staffing. There, 35 residents and 16 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, and three people have died with COVID-19. One of those three deaths is reflected in the deaths reported Wednesday, and the other two, which were recently reported, will be reflected in the numbers released by the Maine CDC Thursday. 

Currently in Maine, 138 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19; 46 of those are in the ICU, and 19 are on ventilators. 

Maine's seven-day PRC test positivity rate is 4.36 percent.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1

The Maine CDC on Tuesday reported 20 additional deaths of people with COVID-19, a single-day reporting record for the state. However, not all deaths occurred Monday.

The Maine CDC said some entities that provide information required to confirm that deaths are COVID-related were not available until Monday because of the Thanksgiving holiday, which contributed to the tally of COVID-related deaths in Tuesday’s update. For that reason, dates of death are included below.

  • A man in his 80s from Penobscot County who died on Nov. 30
  • A man in his 60s from Oxford County who died on Nov. 30
  • A man in his 70s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 29
  • A man in his 70s from Washington County who died on Nov 29
  • A man in his 70s from Kennebec County who died on Nov. 29
  • A man in his 90s from York County who died on Nov. 29
  • A woman in her 70s from Penobscot County who died on Nov. 28
  • A man in his 80s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 28
  • A woman in her 90s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 28
  • A woman in her 90s from Penobscot County who died on Nov. 27
  • A man in his 70s from Piscataquis County who died on Nov. 27
  • A woman in her 80s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 26
  • A woman in her 70s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 26
  • A man in his 80s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 26
  • A man in his 80s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 24
  • A man in his 80s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 24
  • A man in his 80s from York County who died on Nov. 24
  • A man in his 90s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 23
  • A man in his 80s from Androscoggin County who died on Nov. 23
  • A man in his 80s from Knox County who died on Nov. 16

The Maine CDC reported 219 additional COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

Of the 11,976 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 10,675 are confirmed by tests and 1,301 are probable.

709 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illnesses.

 9,364 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

The next Maine CDC state coronavirus update is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Credit: NCM

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30

The Maine CDC reported three additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 194.

The Maine CDC reported 249 additional cases Monday.

Of the 11,757 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 10,487 are confirmed by tests and 1,270 are probable.

699 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illnesses.

9,098 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

The Maine CDC is scheduled to provide a state coronavirus update at 2 p.m. Monday. NEWS CENTER Maine will stream it live on air, as well as on our website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and mobile app.

Credit: NCM

Monday Coronavirus Briefing

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew led the coronavirus briefing on Monday. 

Shah said the three additional deaths reported Monday were all women in their 80s; one was from Somerset County, and two were from Penobscot County. 

In the past 30 days, 191 individuals have been hospitalized with COVID-19. Currently, there are 139 people in the hospital; of those, 48 are in the ICU and 22 are on ventilators, an increase of four since Sunday. 

Statewide, there are 99 available ICU beds. 

Since Friday's update, the Maine CDC has opened a number of new outbreak investigations:

  • Kerry Transport Paving in Poland: Five cases
  • Long Creek Youth Development Center: Six cases among employees
  • Penobscot Community Health: Three cases
  • Auburn Public Works: Seven cases
  • Dexter EMS Sation: Eight cases
  • Granite Bay Care in Saco: Three cases
  • Nokomis Regional High School in Newport: Six cases
  • Viking Lumber: Three cases
  • Westbrook High School: Three cases

At the Island Nursing Home in Deer Isle, there are 44 total cases associated with the facility: 25 among residents, 10 are among individuals on the nursing side, and nine are among staff members. Shah says the Maine CDC has been working closely and collaboratively with the nursing home to address the outbreak.

Maine's seven-day PRC test positivity rate stands at 3.9 percent. Last week, Maine's positivity rate was 2.6 percent. Nationally, the positivity rate is 9.6 percent.

Maine is now able to calculate and report the antigen testing positivity rate because the Maine CDC has gotten enough, steady reports from antigen tests across the state to be able to calculate a positivity rate. The antigen positivity rate stands at 2.99 percent. 

Watch the full briefing here:

WEEKEND UPDATES

The Data

RESOURCES

Coronavirus, COVID-19 Background

The official name for the coronavirus is “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is named “coronavirus disease 2019” or “COVID-19” for short. Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which can infect people and animals. The viruses can cause the common cold or more serious diseases like SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

The CDC says symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and in some cases sore throat.

The CDC says there are simple steps to take to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home while you're sick and avoid close contact with others
  • The Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is holding coronavirus briefings on Tuesdays and Thursdays with director Dr. Nirav Shah to keep the public up to date on the situation in Maine

NEWS CENTER Maine YouTube COVID-19 Playlist