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Coronavirus in Maine: Thursday, March 12 - Tuesday, March 17
Tuesday Update: The Maine CDC said there are now 23 confirmed positive and 9 presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in Maine. There are now cases in 7 Maine counties.
Author: Gabrielle Mannino (NEWS CENTER Maine), Griffin Stockford (NEWS CENTER Maine), Chelsea Bard (NEWS CENTER Maine), Julie Sherburne (NEWS CENTER Maine)
Published: 3:32 PM EDT March 9, 2020
Updated: 11:10 AM EDT March 18, 2020
CORONAVIRUS 4 Articles
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Coronavirus in Maine: Thursday, March 12 - Tuesday, March 17

CORONAVIRUS
Chapter 1

The situation in Maine

As of Tuesday, March 17, there are 32 combined positive and presumptive positive cases in Maine.

Editor's note: You are starting to hear the term 'flattening the curve' as a way to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. The above video explains what that means. This story is intended to give readers a real-time, live blog of updates. Understand the newest, up-to-date information will be at the top of the story.

NEWS CENTER MAINE FULL LIST OF CLOSINGS

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.

For more detailed information about the virus itself, scroll down to the bottom of the story or click chapter 2. 

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

For more detailed information about how to contain the spread, scroll down to the bottom of the story or click chapter 3.

The Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Tuesday, March 10 that they would be holding daily coronavirus briefings with director Dr. Nirav Shah to keep the public up to date on the situation in Maine. You can watch the first full press conference from Tuesday here.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: https://www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus

Tuesday, March 17

The Maine CDC announced there are now 23 confirmed positive and 9 presumptive positive COVID-19 cases in seven Maine counties:

  • 2 in Androscoggin County
  • 2 in Lincoln County
  • 1 in Knox County
  • 1 in York County
  • 1 in Kennebec County
  • 18 in Cumberland County
  • The Maine CDC did not announce the county for 6 cases

Although community transmission is currently happening only in Cumberland County, the Maine CDC expects community transmission will occur in other areas at some point.

Here are the new positive or presumptive positive cases announced Tuesday:

  • Female in her 50s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 50s in Oxford County
  • Male in his 50s in York County
  • Child under the age of 10 in Androscoggin County
  • Female in her 60s - No county provided
  • Female in her 50s - No county provided
  • Female in her 50s - No county provided
  • Female in her 60s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 30s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 40s in Cumberland County
  • Male in 60s - No county provided
  • Female in her 60s - No county provided
  • Male in his 40s - No county provided
  • Male in his 20s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 30s in Kennebec County

These cases are now added to the following positive or presumptive positive tests in the state:

  • Female in her 50s in Androscoggin County
  • Male in his 50s in Cumberland County
  • Woman in her 40s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 60s in Cumberland County
  • Woman in her 20s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 20s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 80s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 70s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 70s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 30s in Lincoln County
  • Male in his 40s in Cumberland County
  • Teen boy in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 60s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 80s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 30s in Knox County
  • Male in his 70s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 40s in Lincoln County

Three of the 32 people are currently hospitalized. The others are in isolation. According to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, most states have been experiencing a 10-20% hospitalization rate, which means Maine's rate is just about in line with other states.

There now two child cases in Maine. Concerning the case of a child under 10 that was announced Tuesday, Dr. Shah said that child does not attend a daycare. The other child is a student at Cape Elizabeth Middle School.

RELATED: Cape Elizabeth Middle School student making good progress in recovery at home, according to school officials

When asked how the current cases in Maine are progressing, Dr. Shah said the Maine CDC must first let the 14-day period of isolation pass. Because all Maine cases are still within the 14-day timeline, the Maine CDC cannot yet consider any of them recovered. To be considered recovered after the 14-day period, a person must not have a fever and must test negative for the virus.

Of the 23 positive cases in Maine, 2 of those people have had influenza occur at the same time. To prevent co-occurrence of influenza and coronavirus, Dr. Shah recommends washing your hands and keeping your hands below your shoulders.

Dr. Shah said compliance with the governor's recommendations, as well as those of health organizations, is the key to trying to flatten the curve. He encourages Mainers to wash their hands like they just sliced open a jalapeno and want to change their contact lenses.

Dr. Shah also noted that many of the cases have occurred in counties where big cities or towns have enacted bans on large gatherings.

Monday, March 16

The Maine CDC said there are now 17 combined positive or presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus in Maine:

  • 1 in Androscoggin County
  • 2 in Lincoln County
  • 1 in Knox County
  • 13 in Cumberland County

The five new confirmed or presumptive positive cases announced Monday are:

  • Female in her 60s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 80s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 30s in Knox County
  • Male in his 70s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 40s in Lincoln County

These cases are now added to the following confirmed positive or presumptive positive tests in the state:

  • Female in her 50s in Androscoggin County
  • Male in his 50s in Cumberland County
  • Woman in her 40s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 60s in Cumberland County
  • Woman in her 20s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 20s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 80s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 70s in Cumberland County
  • Male in his 70s in Cumberland County
  • Female in her 30s in Lincoln County
  • Male in his 40s in Cumberland County
  • Teen boy in Cumberland County

The teen boy in Cumberland County is a 12-year-old Cape Elizabeth Middle School student and while officials are not releasing his name, they do say he is making good progress in his recovery at home.

RELATED: Cape Elizabeth Middle School student making good progress in recovery at home, according to school officials

All Cape Elizabeth Schools are now closed and the Maine CDC has notified all parents of children who are believed to have potentially come into close contact with the infected child.

Virus Outbreak Maine
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference Monday, March 16, 2020, in Augusta, Maine. Shah announced that there are five new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total in Maine to 17. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
AP

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said he expects the number of cases in the state to increase. He said, so far, there have been 764 negative tests in Maine.

Dr. Shah said the number of people in quarantine is constantly fluctuating and that Maine CDC will be ordering additional test kits.

When asked about possible transmission within a household, Dr. Shah said although it is difficult, the Maine CDC encourages people to isolate from one another even within a household.

Dr. Shah said the virus requires some fort of transmission of respiratory droplets, which people can sneeze, cough, drip, or exhale onto another person or a surface.

Dr. Shah ended his Monday remarks by saying these will be challenging times and there will be changes in how we all go about living our lives. He said there will also be questions about how the government and health organizations are handling it. 

Dr. Shah then noted this: Preparations before a pandemic seem like overreactions and preparations after a pandemic seem like too little too late. He said the Maine CDC is following best available science and that they pledge to be transparent.

On Monday, the Maine Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) said all electric transmission and distribution utilities, natural gas utilities, water utilities, and telephone Providers of Last Resort (POLR) service have been directed to not engage in any disconnection activity until further notice.

This includes the issuance of disconnection notices and actual service disconnections for all classes of customers.

“No one will lose utility service or be threatened with disconnection during this civil emergency,” MPUC Chairman Philip L. Bartlett, II said. “This applies equally to residential and business customers and is effective immediately.”

Also on Monday, Portland City Manager Jon Jennings announced that the city is instituting a mandated curfew for establishments where groups gather from 6:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 17 to 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 18 and then daily from 8:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (March 18 - 22).

RELATED: Portland to implement mandated curfew for places where groups gather amid coronavirus pandemic

Any individual or business owner who does not follow the mandatory curfew is at risk of getting fined $500.

The city also announced it will delay the deadline for property tax, personal property, and stormwater payments until June 1 with no interest.

Sunday, March 15

Gov. Mills declares 'civil state of emergency'

The Maine Center for Disease Control sent a press release Sunday that said Maine now has seven confirmed cases and five presumptive positive cases of coronavirus.

Here is how the Maine CDC distinguishes the difference:

  • Confirmed cases: This now includes cases formerly identified as presumptive positive. This classification applies to samples sent by a health provider directly to HETL that test positive and to samples from non-governmental labs for which HETL validates positive results. 
  • Presumptive positive tests: These are samples that test positive at non-governmental labs and are sent to HETL for validation.

RELATED: Governor Mills declares 'civil state of emergency' due to coronavirus, COVID-19

The two largest ski areas in Maine will close early this year due to coronavirus fears. Sunday River and Sugarloaf both announced Sunday would be their last day open. 

Maine's Governor Janet Mills is taking action to help Maine small businesses and workers as fears and concerns grow during the coronavirus outbreak. 

In a release sent Sunday, Mills outlines steps she is taking to help Mainers out.

She is requesting Federal funds for Maine Small Business as well as relaxing some red-tape during workers unemployment insurance process. 

Dr. Dora Mills posted a large Facebook post Sunday about the growing concerns of school closures across the state. Here is her post:

Saturday, March 14

The Maine Center for Disease Control sent a press release Saturday that says Maine now has three presumptive positive cases of coronavirus and three preliminary presumptive positive tests. 

The release says a Cumberland County woman in her 40s is the third person to test presumptively positive for COVID-19 in Maine. The woman was a close household contact with another person who is listed as presumptively positive for COVID-19. 

According to the release, "Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) staff today validated the sample from a lab affiliated with MaineHealth to establish the presumptive positive finding." The Maine CDC is waiting for confirmation tests from the U.S. CDC. 

Additionally, the Maine CDC said there are two more preliminary presumptive positive tests that came from labs associated with MaineHealth.

Schools across the state have started to cancel classes. 

Bangor, John Bapst High School and Scarborough will join the list of Maine schools that will keep their doors closed amid the increased coronavirus concerns, due to releases from the school administrators. 

Bangor Superintendent Betsy Webb said they believe this is the best course of action for her community. 

Scarborough Superintendent Sanford Prince said in a release, "Given the growing concern about the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus across the state of Maine and throughout our nation, we have determined that the best course of action is to close our schools now."

Prince said the administrators have decide to close next week and reassess the situation Friday, March 20th.   

To our south, Massachusetts, which as the most confirmed coronavirus, or COVID-19 cases, has decided to close all casinos beginning Sunday. The Encore Casino group released a statement that they will continue to pay all full-time employees. 

Friday, March 13

The Maine CDC announced that preliminary testing in their lab indicates two more people in Maine have tested presumptive positive for coronavirus. This makes three presumptive positive tests in the state so far.

The new presumptive positive test is a man in his 50s. The man was screened at a MaineHealth outpatient clinic and is now in self-isolation at home.

Portland city officials said he worked at the city's India Street Public Health Center and came into contact with 23 other staff members and 7 volunteers, all of whom are in self-quarantine. The man is being cared for at Maine Medical Center. 

The preliminary presumptive positive case is a woman in her 20s. 

According to Maine CDC, its staff, working closely with MaineHealth providers, has begun investigating the patients’ travel histories under the assumption that the preliminary test results are presumptive positive.

RELATED: Maine CDC: 2 more 'presumptive positive' cases of COVID-19 confirmed; 3 total in Maine

The Boston Marathon has been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14. 

Thursday, March 12

Gov. Janet Mills and the Maine CDC announced that Maine has its first presumptive positive case of the coronavirus.

A "presumptive positive" test means it has been tested at the state lab and the test is being sent to the U.S. CDC for confirmation.

Mills made the announcement during a press conference in Augusta at noon. The woman who tested positive is in her 50s and is from Androscoggin County. The Maine CDC and her health care provider are investigating her travel history and possible community exposure. 

The individual is quarantined at her home.

According to the U.S. Navy, a Reservist tested presumptive positive for COVID-19 in Bangor, marking the first positive case of a Reservist.

Maine Dept. of Health and Human Services (DHHS) confirmed to NEWS CENTER Maine that according to information provided to the Maine CDC, the Navy Reservist is the only presumptive positive case in Maine at this time, and is the same individual announced by Gov. Mills Thursday afternoon.

"The Maine CDC has been preparing for this eventuality since the end of last year,” Mills said. “With one presumptive positive case, Maine has a unique window of opportunity to delay an outbreak, like those we see in other states, and to minimize our exposure.”

A few viewers have asked about COVID-19 and cruises. Here is some information from the CDC's website:

  • CDC recommends travelers, particularly those with underlying health issues, defer all cruise ship travel worldwide.
  • Sustained community spread of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19 has been reported in many countries.
  • Cruise ship passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for more severe disease. This entails avoiding crowded places, avoiding non-essential travel such as long plane trips, and especially avoiding embarking on cruise ships.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said, "As we work to ensure the best care for this individual, we are not seeing widespread community transmission in Maine. The recommendation we make today is designed to limit potential spread of the virus here.”

Mills says they have already formulated additional steps the administration is taking to reduce the possible spread of the disease:

  1. Proclaiming an insurance emergency to improve access to care and require private health insurance plans to cover costs related to coronavirus testing
  2. Suspending all non-essential out-of-state work travel by State employees 
  3. Recommending, on the advice of Maine CDC, that non-essential large, indoor gatherings of 250 attendees or more be postponed in order to delay a potential coronavirus outbreak and substantially reduce its spread.

Proclaiming an insurance emergency: "Under Maine law, Governor Mills has the authority to proclaim an insurance emergency in order to respond to 'an existing or imminent likelihood of need for a significant increase in health care services or insurance benefit payments due to injuries or sickness.' The proclamation, which Governor Mills signed today, allows the Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance to require health insurance carriers providing health care coverage in Maine’s commercial market to cover costs related to coronavirus testing and increases access to care. While this proclamation affects only private insurance sold in the commercial market, the Department of Health and Human Services is also issuing emergency rules to ensure MaineCare provides comprehensive coverage for lab testing and medical treatment. The Maine Bureau of Insurance has determined the extent of the coverage required and issued its own proclamation today. Taking this action will help ensure that Maine people are not burdened by costs or deterred from seeking testing or important medical care related to the coronavirus."

Virus Outbreak Maine
Gov. Janet Mills announces that one person has tested positive for coronavirus in Maine, during a news conference at the State House, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Augusta, Maine. Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is at right. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
AP

Limiting state employee travel: "Governor Mills today suspended all non-essential State employee travel outside the State of Maine to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus in other states. The determination of whether travel is or is not essential will be left to the discretion of Department Commissioners, and the need for the directive will be evaluated within the next 30 days."

Recommending postponing large, indoor gatherings: "Because COVID-19 spreads easily and rapidly, the U.S. CDC has recommended 'social distancing' — which means keeping your distance from other people, especially those most at risk of getting sick, including older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions. It is one of the most effective strategies to prevent community spread of coronavirus. In light of that guidance and upon the recommendation of the Coronavirus Response Team and the experts at the Maine CDC, Governor Mills is recommending the postponement of all non-essential large, indoor group gatherings in Maine of 250 or more attendees for the next 30 days."

Sen. Susan Collins is calling on the Senate to cancel its recess and remain in session next week. 

Sen. Angus King released a statement following the news. 

“Today’s news of Maine’s first presumptive positive COVID-19 diagnosis is both concerning and expected. Given the spread of the disease and its presence in other New England states, it was always likely that the disease would impact Maine people."

King went on to say, "This situation is unprecedented, at least in recent memory – but we can always find lessons in history. When the Spanish Flu struck in 1918, cities across America took different approaches to combat this disease. St. Louis acted decisively, canceling a pre-planned parade, while Philadelphia allowed its parade to continue. In the following month, Philadelphia saw more than 10,000 deaths from the Spanish Flu; St. Louis, only 700. In hindsight, the decision seems obvious – and I am hopeful that hindsight will look kindly on the decisive action taken by Maine today.”

As of 1 p.m., in addition to the presumptive positive case, the Maine CDC reports 65 negative tests and 20 pending results.

New Hampshire reported its sixth positive case. According to a press release, the person is an adult male from Rockingham County who traveled to multiple countries in Europe. The person self-isolated upon return from Europe and notified their healthcare provider after developing symptoms. Household contacts have self-quarantined.

Wednesday, March 11

In the daily briefing, Dr. Shah said that there were still no confirmed or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Maine. The Maine CDC says there have been 42 people with negative tests, and five with pending test results.

The Ivy League announced it is canceling all spring athletics.

The Maine Department of Education's Child Nutrition Team received approval for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services. The waiver will allow schools the ability to provide students with meals offsite if the school currently has or qualifies for a USDA Summer Food Service Program. 

According to a press release, "The Maine Dept. of Education applied for the waiver as they continue to assist schools in the proactive planning for a disruption to schools in the case of the concerns of COVID-19."

USDA supported meals are available at no cost to low-income children, and under the waiver allows meals to served offsite in the event schools are temporarily closed.

The University of Maine (UMaine) system announced that they would be transitioning face-to-face classes to remote instruction and "significantly limit occupancy of residence halls," when classes resume after spring break on March 23, according to a press release.

RELATED: UMaine system shifting to remote classes after spring break

The university is also notifying on-campus residential students to make plans to leave campus by Sunday, March 22, "with personal and educational belongings necessary to complete their semester requirements remotely."

"We are fortunate that there are still no coronavirus cases in Maine and we must take all appropriate steps to limit exposure to the virus in the interest of preserving public health," Dannel Malloy, Chancellor of the UMaine System, said.

Bate College announced that the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is canceling conference competition, including conference championships for the 2020 spring season. 

"I realize this is very difficult and disappointing news, particularly for our seniors, who were looking forward to a final season of hard work and competition," Jason Fein, director of athletics for Bates College said in a press release. "I am mindful of just how important the athletic experience is to our students, as teams provide a sense of community, connection, and purpose. However, we find ourselves in a situation where we have an obligation, with respect to all college activities, to mitigate health risks to the Bates community as a whole."

RELATED: NESCAC cancels conference competition for spring season

Bowdoin College students will not return from spring break due to coronavirus concerns. Students will be completing the spring semester through remote learning.

RELATED: Bowdoin College students will not return from spring break due to coronavirus concerns

Bowdoin College NCAA women's basketball tournament is not allowing fans during games, the college announced on its athletics website Wednesday, March 11. 

Bowdoin College reached the decision after monitoring recent developments with COVID-19 in the New England region and consulting with both on and off-campus medical providers. 

RELATED: Bowdoin College NCAA women's basketball tournament not allowing fans during games

Dr. Shah also announced that the Maine CDC was teaming up with the state's 211 system to help answer questions about the coronavirus. The system became active Wednesday afternoon and will connect to a live person to answer "general questions" about COVID-19. 

For more specific medical questions Dr. Shah recommends calling your healthcare provider. You can also text your zip code to 898-211 to reach the 211 system. 

According to Dr. Shah, the Maine CDC has issued guidance to healthcare facilities and doctors across the state. This included inpatient, outpatient, and longterm care facilities. The CDC wants them to prepare by meeting with staff and start looking at "alternative ways" to see and house patients. 

Dr. Shah says "we invite everyone to the table" as part of emergency planning. This includes the Emergency Management System and the National Guard. 

He tells the general public to stay healthy, stay informed, and "be kind and take care of one another." 

Tuesday, March 10

Dr. Shah said in the first of the daily briefings that the Maine CDC is officially up and running for COVID-19 testing, and the lab is able to handle 100-200 tests a day, far exceeding the current need. Tests will only be done on people showing symptoms. Maine CDC will keep the public updated on test results.

Gov. Janet Mills said Tuesday that she was on a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the U.S. CDC, and 42 governors on Monday.

When asked about how state officials are keeping the public informed, Mills said, "We’ve got nothing to hide. We’re providing as much information as possible – [Dr.] Nirav Shah has been all over the media – all of us have been talking in public about what we know without trying to upset the public of Maine or cause any panic because I don’t think that’s appropriate – we’re as prepared as any state – and as transparent as any state."

The Cape Elizabeth School Department said as a result of the March 4 advisory change, a staff member and several students who have recently traveled to "concerning areas" are self-quarantining. 

RELATED: Cape Elizabeth schools says staff member, several students in 14-day self-quarantine

The UMaine announced that it is prohibiting all non-essential university-sponsored air travel and is strongly encouraging students, faculty, and staff to avoid personal travel to any domestic or international areas with known COVID-19 cases.

The UMaine system is also encouraging students to stay on campus over spring break (March 16-22) and said it will be opening residence and dining halls to support students. Those students who stay will not accrue any additional room or board charges.

Harvard, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, and Amherst College have also announced plans amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Harvard said Tuesday, March 10 it would move to remote instruction and ask students to not return from spring break, which concludes on March 22. 

MIT, Boston University, and Amherst College also announced they would be teaching classes remotely. 

RELATED: Harvard asks students not to return after spring break amid coronavirus concerns

Maine is the only state in New England that doesn’t have any confirmed cases. 

On Tuesday, March 10 Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency. The latest Massachusetts data shows that there are 92 cases of presumptive and confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state, up from 41 just a day earlier.

RELATED: Massachusetts Gov. declares state of emergency due to rising coronavirus cases

In New Hampshire, there are two confirmed cases and three presumptive positive cases as of Tuesday, March 10 at 2:30 p.m. A “presumptive positive” case means the test was positive at the state lab and has been sent to the U.S. CDC for confirmation.

The five patients are self-isolated in their homes. 

The N.H. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) said in a press release Tuesday, "Despite increased testing in our communities, the NH DHHS has not yet identified any widespread transmission in NH nor individuals who test positive without clearly identified risk factors (e.g. travel or contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case)."

Monday, March 9

The Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) in Augusta started COVID-19 testing. The state lab has the capacity to complete testing for 100 to 200 patients per day. As of March 9, that capacity far exceeds the demand for COVID-19 testing in the state. Maine CDC has a plan to replenish testing supplies as needed.

Health officials in Maine say the risk to the general public is low, but Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said it’s just a matter of time before the virus arrives in Maine.

RELATED: Maine Dir. of CDC says it's highly likely the Coronavirus will arrive in Maine

"This is a rapidly dynamic changing situation and we are prepared for the possibility that there will be cases in Maine," Dr. Shah said.

RELATED: VERIFY: No, there aren't major disease outbreaks 'every election year'

RELATED: Coronavirus causes Veterans Affairs to adopt 'no visitors' policy in nursing homes

RELATED: Maine CDC says all COVID-19 test results have been negative

RELATED: MSAD 35 students who recently traveled to Italy are being self-quarantined per new CDC guidelines

RELATED: Local businesses prepare for potential effects of Coronavirus

RELATED: Approx. 12 samples sent to U.S. CDC for COVID-19 testing

RELATED: How to make your own hand sanitizer

RELATED: MaineHealth reports more Mainers being tested, officials say risk remains low

RELATED: Coronavirus not expected to impact summer tourism

RELATED: Coronavirus yet to impact Maine's cruise ship season, officials fear economic loss

This story will be continually updated as the coronavirus situation in Maine develops. You can follow live, nation-wide updates here.

Chapter 2

What is COVID-19?

The official name for the virus is “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is named “coronavirus disease 2019” or “COVID-19” for short.

The novel or new coronavirus, COVID-19 for short, was first detected in Wuhan City, China in December. Since then, it has spread to more than 100 countries around the world. In the U.S., 35 states have reported cases with 423 total cases and 19 deaths as of 1 p.m. on Monday, March 9 according to the U.S. CDC.

Johns Hopkins University has compiled a real-time interactive map showing the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, how many deaths the virus has caused, as well as how many people have recovered since being diagnosed.

The official name for the virus 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. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure. People with underlying medical conditions may experience more severe respiratory illness, but most patients with mild symptoms can recuperate at home, according to the CDC.

Chapter 3

How to prevent the spread

The coronavirus seems to be contagious in the same way the flu is, through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing.

The virus may spread through the air by coughing and sneezing, close personal contact such as touching or shaking hands, or touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes.

Dr. Dora Mills, Senior Vice President of Community Health for Maine Health, says the coronavirus seems to be contagious in the same way the flu is, through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing.

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 U.S. CDC also issued guidance for people at risk for serious illness from COVID-19. If you are high risk of getting very sick from the virus (older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions) you should:

  • Stock up on supplies.
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

In addition, the U.S. CDC has issued environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations for rooms or areas that those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 have visited. The guidelines focus on non-healthcare community facilities.

In an early-morning Facebook post on Tuesday, March 10, Dr. Mills noted just how easily this virus may be transmitted. She wrote in part:

"One emerging and fascinating story on COVID is the number of cases who attended a Biogen conference at the Marriott Hotel in Boston on February 24 – 27. As of today, there are 32 in MA and several from other states (5 from NC, 2 from IN, 1 from TN, and 1 from DC) and countries who attended this conference and are positive for COVID-19. This may be an indicator of how easily this can be transmitted in the right conditions. It is also giving pause to a number of conference planners who have attendees who are supposed to attend from around the country or globe. I've seen a large number of such conferences cancelled or are planning to carry on virtually. Another place we've seen rapid spread has been Italy - from 9 cases only ~two weeks ago, to the entire country being shut down. Yet other countries have seemingly been spared so far. (See link below to WHO daily situation reports.) "

In the post, Dr. Mills also notes the U.S. CDC's guidance for colleges and universities across the country:

"CDC also issued guidance for colleges and universities (see link below) that reviews many prevention and mitigation strategies and also encourages these institutions to consider cancelling international travel plans and recalling students currently in them. It also encourages them to develop ways to teach using distant technologies. Because boarding schools are especially challenging settings to mitigate disease transmission, a number of them in areas with outbreaks have temporarily closed."

RELATED: Bowdoin College sanitizing areas o campus amid coronavirus concerns

What's working in our favor, Dr. Mills says, is the government's travel restrictions.

"Our country hasn't implemented this strict of travel restrictions for decades. I've never seen it implemented so strictly."

If you have traveled to or from countries with a travel advisory, the CDC recommends self-quarantining for 14 days. If you develop symptoms within those 14 days, the CDC says you should contact your health care provider before going to their office or to the hospital.

RELATED: CDC warns against cruise ship travel amid Covid-19 outbreak

A Level 3 travel advisory recommends avoiding all nonessential travel. The current countries with Level 3 travel advisories are China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. Japan has a Level 2 advisory, which recommends that older adults or those who have chronic medical conditions consider postponing travel.

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Chapter 4

NCM YouTube Coronavirus Video Playlist

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