AUGUSTA, Maine — The cases of COVID-19 climbed again Wednesday, as the Maine CDC reported 537 total cases to date, and that two more people had died of the virus. The CDC also said that while 101 people have been hospitalized for the virus over the past month, 187 so far have recovered. 

But despite those daily statistics, there is one the Maine CDC so far cannot cite. It is not able to say how many people are in the hospital with the virus on any given day. CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah says it’s a problem all over the country.

“For example, hospitals send us reports but if they include patients who are from out of state, or patients awaiting testing, or patients suspected of having COVID-19 who haven’t been confirmed yet, we have to square that up against the diagnostic data we’ve got. “

Dr. Shah said the CDC and Maine hospitals have been working to correct the problem, which a CDC spokesman said is not interfering with the agency’s management of and response to the virus. 

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A more immediate concern is the inadequate delivery of the new, highly anticipated tests from Abbot Labs. Those tests were just approved by the FDA, and are supposed to be far faster than the other available COVID-19 tests, delivering results in minutes, rather than hours or days. 

The CDC last week announced it had ordered 15 of the testing machines and 2,400 individual test containers. But Dr. Shah said Wednesday that they are only getting a fraction of the tests ordered, presumably because of high demand from across the country

“The fact we got much less of the testing material than we were told we’d be getting, we are going back to the drawing board today to get the best strategy or what the use will be.”

Dr. Shah said they had been planning to use the rapid tests, in particular,r for highly vulnerable populations, such as homeless shelter occupants or people in senior citizen facilities or group homes, to be able to quickly know if they have the virus. He said they should decide on a new plan very soon.

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

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