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First death in Maine
On Friday, March 27, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) reported the first death of an individual who had tested positive for the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The individual was a man in his 80s from Cumberland County. Due to privacy laws, Maine CDC is limited in releasing further details.
“This is a sad day for the State of Maine. I know I join countless people in extending my condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones during this difficult time,” Governor Janet Mills said. “Our state is a family. And while we mourn the loss of a member of our Maine family today, I find strength and solace in knowing that we will support one another and that, together, we will get through this.”
Background on the coronavirus, COVID-19
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
FLATTENING THE CURVE
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.
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: /coronavirus
Governor Janet Mills and the Maine CDC announced Maine's first presumptive positive case of coronavirus on Thursday, March 12.
Friday, March 27
The Maine CDC announced the first death of an individual in the state who tested positive for COVID-19. The man was in his 80s and was from Cumberland County.
There are now 168 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Maine. There are confirmed cases in 11 of Maine's 16 counties.
30 people in Maine are hospitalized due to the virus.
"The time now is to start taking preparations, making sure that everyone in your family has a plan to stay safe, that you have medications on hand in case you need to be quarantined for a period," Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, said.
Dr. Shah, said he continues to call on the federal government to send more personal protective equipment (PPE) from the U.S. strategic stockpile to Maine.
"Stay away from other people. Whether you're going to the store or going out for exercise or any other legitimate purpose," Gov. Mills said. "Stay away from other people."
"If anybody in Maine thinks it can't happen here, it is happening here and it will continue to happen here," Gov. Mills said. "We cannot let our health systems be overwhelmed with the intensive care that many patients are going to require. We cannot let that happen and I beg you: stay safe, pay attention, don't take chances. Don't take chances. Let's keep Maine people as safe as possible and get through this together."
Dr. Shah said there are currently 86 available intensive care unit beds in Maine, out of a total of approximately 164. There are currently 247 available ventilators in Maine, out of a total of approximately 308.
Dr. Shah noted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has changed and liberalized the kinds of ventilators than can be used to treat patients with COVID-19. The USFDA has authorized Maine to use ventilators that might normally be used in an operating room to care for patients in intensive care units. Dr. Shah said just in the past day, hospitals have increased their use of those ventilators from 12 to 58.
Maine CDC has received additional chemicals to conduct COVID-19 tests. The Maine CDC lab in Augusta now has the capacity to provide tests for about 3,000 patients. Dr. Shah said Maine's goal is to have the most robust testing architecture it can.
In terms of when this will end, Dr. Shah said the virus sets its own timetable. However, he said we will get through this because of our collective efforts. Dr. Shah asks everyone in Maine to be strong, to be connected, and to be kind.
"The work that every single one of you is doing to introduce that physical distance, to try to introduce separation to disrupt the natural flow of the virus, will help us change the course of how this disease impacts us in Maine," Dr. Shah said. "Never before and perhaps never again did I think that what I would ask for to foster community spirit is to ask people to stay home. But that is where we are right now. In times of stress and in times of emergency, our natural inclination is to come together but right now science tells us that the best thing we can do is not come together but be apart. But be physically apart not socially apart."
Confirmed Recovered Deaths
Androscoggin 8 3 0
Aroostook 0 0 0
Cumberland 92 13 1
Franklin 1 0 0
Hancock 0 0 0
Kennebec 6 1 0
Knox 2 0 0
Lincoln 5 0 0
Oxford 8 2 0
Penobscot 6 3 0
Piscataquis 0 0 0
Sagadahoc 4 0 0
Somerset 0 0 0
Waldo 2 0 0
Washington 0 0 0
York 33 3 0
Unknown 3 0 0
Thursday, March 26
The Maine CDC announced there are now 155 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.
Here is how the 155 cases break down, according to Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah:
- 16 are health care workers
- 22 people are hospitalized
- 49% are male
- 51% are female
- Average age is 55, but it ranges from younger than 10 years old to older than 90 years old
Community transmission has now been identified in not just Cumberland County, but in York County as well. Dr. Shah said the standard for labeling community transmission in Maine is the county must have at least 10 cases, 25 percent of which do not have a known link to another case of confirmed COVID-19, either through travel or through direct interaction.
There are now cases in 11 of Maine's 16 counties.
"As a state, as a community, as an agency, the things that we thought were utterly inconceivable a month ago now seem blindingly obvious," Dr. Shah said. "A month ago, six weeks ago, if you had asked me about whether we would be in a position to have mandated closure of non-essential businesses, to have suspended elective medical procedures, to have recommended that folks maintain physical distance...I would have told you that maybe those things were possible but they weren't really on the horizon of anybody in the public health community. Now, here we are in a situation where each and every one of those things that seemed almost inconceivable are now completely commonplace, if not entirely obvious."
Dr. Shah thanked everyone in Maine for adhering to Gov. Janet Mills' calls for social and physical distancing. He thanks Mainers for their grit, imagination, and community spirit amid the restraints the coronavirus pandemic has presented.
"We can and must remain together, even though for now we may be apart," Dr. Shah said.
Dr. Shah said, as of right now, there is no hard evidence to suggest that the casual handling of cash presents a high risk of COVID-19 transmission. He recommends that if this is something you're concerned about, a pair of gloves is the best way to avoid it (while also not touching your face).
Dr. Shah said the Maine CDC received a second shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the U.S. strategic stockpile two days ago, and that it plans to distribute the PPE soon. However, he said this new shipment still does not meet the state's overall needs. The Maine CDC is currently evaluating the second shipment to ensure fair, equitable distribution across the state.
There are currently 86 available intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the state, out of a total of 151 in service. Dr. Shah said there are approximately 250 available ventilators across the state, out of a total of approximately 307.
Androscoggin 5 2
Aroostook 0 0
Cumberland 90 10
Franklin 1 0
Hancock 0 0
Kennebec 6 0
Knox 1 0
Lincoln 5 0
Oxford 8 1
Penobscot 5 1
Piscataquis 0 0
Sagadahoc 4 0
Somerset 0 0
Waldo 2 0
Washington 0 0
York 27 2
Unknown 1 0
There have been 3,394 negative tests statewide.
Wednesday, March 25
The Maine CDC announced there are now 142 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.
15 people in Maine remain hospitalized due to the virus. There have been 3,177 negative tests in the state.
Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, said one of those cases is a Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employee.
Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said the Maine DHHS office in Lewiston will be closed while an investigation into the positive case occurs. Lambrew would only say that the person came in contact with the Lewiston office, but did not confirm that's where the employee is based.
Lambrew said Maine DHHS's other offices are still open but in a significantly limited capacity. She said they will continue to evaluate the situation at those locations and take appropriate measures.
"A week and a half ago there were zero cases and now we're up to 142," Dr. Shah said. "We do anticipate and expect that this rate of increase will continue."
Dr. Shah said with outbreaks like this, it's hard to know when we've reached the peak. He said rather than a mountain, where you know when you've reached the peak, this outbreak is more like following a meandering path through the woods.
The strongest evidence of community transmission remains in Cumberland County. Dr. Shah said evidence of community transmission could likely reveal itself soon in other counties that have higher numbers of cases.
"I do want to underscore the need for everyone to heed the advice for social distancing," Dr. Shah said.
Dr. Shah said testing remains a concern in Maine. About 1,300 tests in the state are backlogged. Dr. Shah said Maine CDC is committed to reducing that number, which includes bringing in an additional piece of equipment. He said the manufacturer of the additional machine is also backlogged. Maine CDC expects to receive it in one to two weeks. Dr. Shah said the highest risk individuals remain a priority for testing.
Dr. Shah said if you don't have a fever but you are experiencing other symptoms, it's a good sign. It doesn't entirely rule you out but he said 80% of COVID-19 patients experience a fever. However, if your non-fever symptoms escalate, you should contact your doctor.
When asked about how COVID-19 compares to the flu, Dr. Shah said COVID-19 is both easier to transmit and more fatal than the flu. He said according to the best available statistics, COVID-19 could be 5 to 20 percent more fatal than the flu. He said whether it's on the high end or the low end of that estimate, COVID-19 is significantly more concerning.
When asked how quickly COVID-19 can spread, Dr, Shah said the numbers bear it out. He said each person who gets COVID-19 will typically spread it to 2 - 3 people. He said each person who gets the flu will typically spread it to 1 - 1.5 people. He said this may not seem like much of a difference but it is significant.
Dr. Shah also added that it is currently peak flu season in Maine. With COVID-19 being easier to transmit and more fatal than the flu, Dr. Shah said this is all a demonstration of what Maine's health care system is dealing with right now.
Dr. Shah is requesting that all health care workers in Maine, whether retired or not, to go to maineresponds.org and register to volunteer to help response efforts across the state.
Below is a county-by-county breakdown of Maine's 142 confirmed COVID-19 cases:
Tuesday, March 24
The Maine CDC announced there are now 118 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state. There are now cases in 10 of Maine's 16 counties.
“Absence of evidence of cases in your county is not evidence of absence of cases in your county," Maine CDC Director, Dr. Nirav Shah, said Tuesday.
Dr. Shah continued to encourage all Mainers to behave as if coronavirus is in your county. He said even if a positive case has not been confirmed in your county, it's likely there.
15 people in Maine are currently hospitalized due to the virus.
There have been 3,014 negative tests across the state.
Governor Janet Mills issued an executive order mandating that all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact.
The order closes non-essential business sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible. Non-essential businesses and operations may continue activities that do not involve these types of in-person contact and gatherings, and should facilitate the maximum number of employees working remotely.
Gov. Mills said Tuesday that Maine would follow the Department of Homeland Security's definition of essential businesses. A full list can be found here.
"We're considering all kinds of steps, every hour on the hour frankly," Gov. Mills said. "This is the action I choose to take today."
In addition to the 22,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) distributed across the state Monday, the Maine CDC and Gov. Mills continue to urge the federal government to release additional stockpiles of PPE to Maine.
Androscoggin 3 2
Aroostook 0 0
Cumberland 74 5
Franklin 0 0
Hancock 0 0
Kennebec 5 0
Knox 1 0
Lincoln 5 0
Oxford 6 0
Penobscot 4 0
Piscataquis 0 0
Sagadahoc 3 0
Somerset 0 0
Waldo 1 0
Washington 0 0
York 16 0
Unknown 0 0
Monday, March 23
The Maine CDC announced there are now 107 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state.
There have been 2,791 negative tests across the state.
Community transmission has only been confirmed in Cumberland County, although it is expected to occur in other counties.
12 people in Maine are currently hospitalized due to the virus.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah encourages all Mainers to behave as if coronavirus is in their county. He said even if a positive case has not been confirmed in your county, it's likely there. He said he even encourages people to go about their day as if they themselves have the virus.
"How you live your life today can affect how the people in your community life their life tomorrow," Dr. Shah said.
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Dr. Shah said the Maine CDC has a standing call with OceanView at Falmouth, a retirement community in Cumberland County that has reported six cases among its residents. He said the Maine CDC is committed to getting them the resources they need.
Dr. Shah said if you have symptoms that you think might be coronavirus, he encourages you to stay home for at least 14 days and monitor your symptoms. You are encouraged to contact your personal physician if you believe you should be tested.
Cities and towns across Maine are also taking measures to contain and reduce the spread at the number of cases continues to grow.
Monday night, Brunswick became the second city in Maine to enact stricter business closure rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Brunswick Town Council declared a civil state of emergency Monday night, enacting a townwide shelter-in-place order in an effort to 'flatten the curve' when it comes to the spread of new coronavirus, COVID-19.
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The Town of York closed its four beaches to the public indefinitely, until the "(coronavirus) emergency is under control."
And in Bangor, non-essential businesses close to the public effective Monday at 6 p.m.
According to the "Emergency Regulation: Prohibitions on Businesses", the following locations in Bangor will be closed while the state of emergency is in effect:
- gathering places like auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, large conference rooms, meeting halls, theaters
- workout places like gymnasiums, fitness centers, yoga studios, indoor cycling studios
- recreational places like movie theaters, museums, dance clubs, music venues, adult entertainment facilities, casinos, private clubs
Bars, restaurants, and dine-in facilities also must remain closed to the public, but they can still offer curb-side pick-up to customers. This takeaway mandate also applies to schools and other locations that are providing free meals to students and the general public.
The Maine CDC recommends if people are traveling, to still monitor their health and self isolate if they feel any signs of symptoms that may be coronavirus.
Here are the symptoms outlined on the CDC's website:
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).
- Shortness of breath
If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
During a Sunday press conference, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said there are now 89 positive coronavirus, or COVID-19 cases in Maine.
"We do anticipate there being further cases of COVID-19 across the state, into new counties, as well as increasing rates in existing counties," Dr. Shah said on Sunday.
Dr. Shah also spoke about personal protective equipment (PPE) at length. He said on Monday the Maine CDC will be distributing about 22,000 pieces of equipment to healthcare employees across the state including about 2,400 N95 masks, more than 8,000 procedure masks, almost 2,000 face shields and about 6,000 gloves among other things. He said FEMA will be distributing additional protective equipment to the state of Maine soon.
While these distributions are coming, Dr. Shah adds that it's not enough and healthcare employees still need these things.
Dr. Shah also urged Mainers not to wait until COVID-19 is in their counties or communities, but to practice social distancing now.
SUNDAY MAINE CDC PRESS CONFERENCE
With beautiful weather over the weekend, Mainers got outside in droves. While Governor Mills called for 'social distancing,' many Mainers hit Popham Beach area, appearing to not follow the CDC guidelines.
Such a positive story out of Saco Sunday. One pastor came up with a very unique idea to deliver his sermon via web streaming. He didn't want to speak to an empty church, so he asked his parishioners...boy did they respond.
The Senate has refused to advance the coronavirus rescue package in a procedural vote with Democrats, rejecting a draft from Republicans and pushing for more aid for workers. Negotiations are expected to continue into the evening Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to “signal to the public that we're ready to get this job done.” He wants passage by Monday. But Democrats have resisted, arguing the nearly $1.4 trillion measure needs to bolster aid and put limits on how businesses can use the emergency dollars.
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