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Maine Coronavirus Update: 2 additional Mainers have died with COVID-19

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Sunday, November 15, 2020.

MAINE, USA — KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15

The Maine CDC reported two additional deaths of Mainers with COVID-19, bringing the state death toll to 165. A total of 13 additional deaths of people with COVID-19 have been reported this week. 

The two deaths were a woman in her 80s from Somerset County and a man in his 80s from Kennebec County.

Of the 8,944 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 8,006 are confirmed by test and 938 are probable.

69 Mainers are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 574 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illnesses.

 6,681 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14

The Maine CDC reported one additional death of a Mainer with COVID-19, bringing the state death toll to 163. A total of 11 additional deaths of people with COVID-19 have been reported this week. 

Of the 8,791 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 7,882 are confirmed by test and 909 are probable.

67 Mainers are currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 572 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illnesses.

 6,597 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13

The Maine CDC reported three additional deaths of people with COVID-19, bringing the state death toll to 162. A total of 10 additional deaths of people with COVID-19 have been reported this week. 

The Maine CDC has not yet reported the ages or counties of residency of the people who died.

Of the 8,639 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 7,748 are confirmed by test and 891 are probable.

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

 6,428 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

Friday Coronavirus Briefing

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew provide coronavirus updates during the Friday briefing. 

Shah says the three individuals who have died with COVID-19 are a man in his 70s from Penobscot County, a man in his 70s from Androscoggin County, and a woman in her 80s from Androscoggin County. 

In just the past 30 days alone, 94 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19. Right now, 66 people are in the hospital, an increase of four since yesterday. Of those 66, 18 are in the intensive care unit, and six people remain on ventilators. Across the state, 92 ICU beds remain available.

Shah says of the cases reported to the Maine CDC on Thursday, 28 percent are from Androscoggin County, 15 percent are from Cumberland County.

Outbreak Updates

The Maine CDC has opened five new outbreak investigations in just the past 24 hours:

  • Faith Bible College Internation in Charleston: Three cases
  • Husson University: 15 associated cases
  • Lawrence Junior High School in Fairfield: Three cases
  • Portland High School: Three cases
  • Skowhegan-Madison Elks Lodge: Five cases

Shah says the number of new outbreaks on a day-to-day basis seems concerning, and it is, "but it's equally important to keep in mind that one of the reasons we are able to detect and piece together what's happening with these outbreaks is because we've continued with our case investigations and contact tracing."

 Shah says they are starting to see a circular problem where social gatherings are leading to more community spread, which is making those social gatherings even more risky and itself leading to more community spread. 

Shah says this is an "unvirtuous cycle" that's building upon itself making each social gathering even riskier and generating cases of individuals who then go back out into the community.

"This is a very difficult cycle to intervene upon and it's all the more reason we want everyone to know both where we are and what they can do to help us break this cycle, namely wearing face coverings."

Russell Park facility in Lewiston: As of Friday, there are 129 cases associated with the facility; 64 among residents, and 65 among staff. Three people associated with the facility have died, and there are currently three residents in the hospital. Maine CDC is continuing to work with Russell Park to make sure they have all the best resources. 

RELATED: Outbreak at Lewiston long-term care facility claims three lives, case count now at 129

The seven-day positivity rate for PCR testing is 2.53 percent. Maine's testing volume stands at 613 tests for every 100,000 people. 

Shah says just since Nov. 1, which is just about one incubation period of COVID-19, Maine has had 1,924 cases. The positivity rate has jumped from 0.9 percent to 2.5 percent. On Nov. 1, there were 28 people in the hospital, seven of whom were in the ICU. Today, 66 people are in the hospital, 18 of whom are in the ICU. 

"The fear of what we expressed, of what we saw on the horizon with COVID-19 coming, is very squarely here," Shah said. "And the concerns that we have expressed around the possibility of exponential growth have unfortunately been realized. The surge that we have predicted has arrived and it has arrived with force and ferocity. Now is the time for all of us to make sure that we're taking necessary steps to keep a lid on things."

Lambrew

Gov. Janet Mills announced Massachusetts is no longer exempt from Maine's quarantine or negative testing requirement. 

Read more about the travel restriction announcement here: Mills renews COVID-19 travel restrictions for Massachusetts residents

In response to questions about possibly reinstating stay-at-home orders, Lambrew said they are continuing to review their options to see what's working and what may need to be improved. Lambrew noted recent steps the administration has taken like Mills' strengthened mask mandate

"The bottom line is, if you have to ask where you should be wearing a mask, you should be wearing a mask," Lambrew said. "We really are encouraging people to take that very basic step that even in the last week we had new evidence that shows it doesn't only protect others, it can protect yourself."

When asked about where Shah sees us in two weeks given the recent surge, Shah said: "Where we go from here is up to us. The virus is going to do what the virus does, and that is spread opportunistically. But it need not be that way. We have within our wherewithal the tools, right now, to cut off the virus at every pass. So where things go is a mystery only in so far as 'what are we going to do about it?' And are we collectively going to take the steps like face covering and physical distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings where the virus can transmit in small groups—are we going to do those things? And that's the question in front of us, and that will determine what the next two weeks, let alone two months, look like." 

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 12

The Maine CDC reported one additional death of a person with COVID-19, a man in his 70s from Androscoggin County, bringing the state death toll to 159. A total of seven additional deaths of people with COVID-19 have been reported this week. 

194 additional cases were reported Thursday.

Of the 8,395 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 7,516 are confirmed by test and 880 are probable.

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

 6,275 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

Thursday coronavirus briefing

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

Currently, 62 people are in the hospital with COVID-19, 16 of whom are in intensive care, and six of whom are on ventilators. Shah says that brings the hospitalization rate to 4.6 people for every 100,000 Mainers; the national average is 13 hospitalizations. Just a few weeks ago, that rate was 0.5 or 1. 

Among the total cases, 1,311 are health care workers. 

Shah says of the cases reported to the Maine CDC on Wednesday, 20 percent are from Androscoggin County, 17 percent are from Cumberland County, and 16 percent are from York County.

"This pattern of an increased number of cases day upon day is one that is obviously concerning to us," Shah said. "For me, it serves as a call to action for everyone who's watching today. Now more than ever, doing things like wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance are more important than they've ever been."

"The virus is here. It is all around us. And it is spreading with ferocity."

New Outbreaks

  • Jay's Oysters in Portland: Five cases detected among staff members
  • Willows Pizza & Restaurant in South Portland: Seven staff members have tested positive 

The following outbreak investigations have been opened in just the past 24 hours, and they all are in the western Maine area. 

  • Androscoggin County Jail: Three cases connected to the jail
  • Community Concepts Childcare: Three cases among staff members
  • Guy E. Rowe Elementary School in Norway: Four cases—two among students, and two among staff
  • The Maine Nordiques hockey team: Total of three cases— two among students, and one staff member
  • Oxford Hills High School: A total of five cases. 

Shah says these new outbreaks are another reminder that the virus is everywhere, including places where it was previously spreading in low numbers, like in the western part of the state. 

Treatment Developments

A new type of drug was given emergency authorization by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of COVID-19. Shah says the federal government notified Maine that the state, as well as other states, would be receiving an allocation of this drug. Maine will be getting 90 doses of the drug every week for the next several months. 

Shah says the Maine CDC has started to work with hospitals and health care providers across the state to make sure they were aware and up to date that the drug was authorized, and that it would soon be coming to Maine. 

It may be arriving in the coming days, Shah says. 

"This is a brand new drug, and right now, what we know about it is based on one study," Shah said, saying we have to manage our expectations around the treatment. The study shows the drug is most effective in a rather narrow group of people, Shah says, not individuals who have already been hospitalized, like what the drug remdesivir is for. 

This new drug is for people who may become hospitalized in an effort to prevent them from having to be put into the hospital. 

"That holds promise for us given where we are and what we've been seeing with increasing hospitalization rates," Shah said. "But it also poses challenges for the clinical community."

He says identifying patients who will benefit most from the drug will be a challenge. But they have been working with hospitals and health care providers to think through which patients might benefit from the drug the most. 

Shah said, "I think the bottom line for me, is that this drug is not a panacea. It's not a silver bullet, but it is yet another tool that we at the state level can work together in partnership with health care providers and hospitals to make sure that everybody in Maine can take advantage of if they meet the qualifications." 

"Although this is a good drug and one that we will welcome, the doses right now are limited," Shah said. Production of the drug is just starting to ramp up, he says, so while the State will welcome it, this is not a drug that's appropriate for everyone. 

Important Milestone

In the past 48 hours, the Maine Public Health's Emergency Preparedness Team delivered its 3-millionth piece of PPE to health care providers in Maine. The effort to deliver PPE across the state has not slowed down since the start of the pandemic, Shah says. 

Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced Thursday the first 10 of up to 65 Walgreens pharmacy locations that will offer free drive-through rapid COVID-19 antigen testing to people in Maine experiencing symptoms of the virus.

Beginning Friday, Walgreens will open an initial 10 testing sites across Maine (see list below), using Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid antigen point-of-care test. All of the more than 60 sites are expected to be operational by November 23. Through an agreement with DHHS, testing is available at no cost to people in Maine who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Read more about the testing sites here

RELATED: In partnership with Maine DHHS, some Walgreens locations to offer free rapid COVID-19 antigen testing

"We welcome the addition of this free rapid antigen testing through Walgreens as Maine continues to implement a robust COVID-19 testing strategy,” Lambrew said. "The BinaxNOW tests can help people with symptoms of COVID-19 to take steps to protect themselves and those around them as we continue our fight against this virus."

Credit: NCM



MONDAY, TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY UPDATES



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


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