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Real-time Maine coronavirus COVID-19 update: Governor Janet Mills announces plan to reopen rural Maine

Maine Gov. Janet Mills announced some revisions to her phased plan to reopen the Maine economy on Friday. Rural Maine and some retail businesses may open next week

MAINE, USA — EVERY NUMBER IS A LIFE: Celebrating the life of loved ones during the faceless anonymity of Maine coronavirus COVID fatalities. 

KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

LATEST CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

FRIDAY MAY 8

Latest coronavirus updates for Friday:

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Governor Janet Mills announced a rural reopening plan aimed at reopening certain additional businesses in rural Maine over the course of the next two weeks with added health and safety measures.

Under the plan, retail stores and restaurants will be permitted to open to in-store and some dine-in service, respectively – with enhanced safety precautions – in counties where community transmission is not present. Those counties are Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc.

RELATED: Rural Maine counties will be able to begin reopening as soon as next week, Mills says

Retail stores in these counties are permitted to open on Monday, May 11 with added health and safety precautions. These include but are not limited to: restricting the number of customers in a store at one time, enhanced cleaning practices, and touch-free transactions whenever possible.

Restaurants in these same counties are permitted to open on Monday, May 18, 2020 with added health and safety precautions, including physically distancing customers, ensuring employees follow enhanced hygiene and sanitation practices, and controlling customer flow through reservations whenever possible. The May 11 and May 18 timelines align with the opening of the same businesses in New Hampshire.

Additionally, remote campsites as well as sporting camps, which provide access to wilderness activities such as canoeing, hiking, hunting or fishing, are also permitted to open with public health safeguards in these same counties only on Monday, May 18 to Maine residents or those who have completed the 14 day quarantine.

“With low case counts, no evidence of community transmission, and, now, expanded testing capacity, we believe it is appropriate to gradually lift some limitations on certain businesses in our rural counties with health and safety precautions to protect public health,” Mills said.

The Maine CDC announced there are now 1,374 COVID-19 cases in Maine, 1,264 of which are confirmed by test and 110 of which are probable.

Maine CDC announced one additional death of a person who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state death total to 63.

The additional death announced Friday was a man in his 60s from Hancock County.

836 of the 1,264 confirmed cases in Maine have recovered.

194 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illness. There are 44 Mainers currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 23 of whom are being treated in intensive care and 10 of whom are on ventilators.

Credit: NCM

Here's an age breakdown of Maine's total cases by percentage:

  • Younger than 20 = 2.4%
  • 20s = 10.9%
  • 30s = 11.4%
  • 40s = 15.2%
  • 50s = 19.7%
  • 60s = 16.2%
  • 70s = 12.4%
  • 80+ = 11.9%

There are still 51 confirmed cases at the Tyson food plant in Portland. The Maine CDC continues to trace their contacts to identify who they may have come in contact with after contracting the virus.

There are now 14 total confirmed cases at the Springbrook Center nursing home in Westbrook.

Almost 300 healthcare workers have been fit tested for COVID-19 by members of the National Guard there are about 600 more on the list.

On Friday alone, almost 60,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) went out to healthcare facilities across the state.

"I've thanked a lot of folks during the course of these briefings but there's one group that I have yet to thank that I think everyone in this state truly owes a debt of gratitude toward and that is our mothers," Dr. Shah said. "This being Mother's Day, I wanted to take a second to acknowledge each and every one of the mothers out there. Hi Mom, hope you're doing well."

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THURSDAY UPDATE

Dr. Shah made clear that when the Maine CDC reports deaths, they are reporting that someone has died who had been confirmed positive with COVID-19, not the cause of death specifically. The cause of death determination is left to the medical examiner.  

According to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, as of a few days ago, there were roughly 2,900 Mainers tested each week. This includes people tested through the state lab in Augusta, as well as large commercial testing companies like LabCorp. Dr. Shah said right now, the positivity rate is over 5%, meaning for every 100 people tested, about 5 or 6 are positive. Compared to other states, whose positivity rates are 10 or 15%, Maine is doing better, Dr. Shah says. He says he'd like to see Maine's positivity rate around 2%, which is what South Korea's is. To do that, Dr. Shah says testing must increase two or three-fold.

TAKE A MOMENT FOR 'A BREATH OF FRESH AIR'

RESOURCES

MAINE CDC BRIEFINGS

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) 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. 

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