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Real-time Maine coronavirus COVID-19 updates: As testing increases, Maine CDC anticipates increased number of positive tests

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Wednesday, May 20, 2020



2 p.m.

The Maine CDC announced no new deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19, which means the state death total remains at 73.

Of the now 1,819 COVID-19 cases (an increase of 78 compared to Tuesday), 1,632 are confirmed by test and 187 are probable (meaning someone who has not officially tested positive but has been on close contact with someone who has).

The 78 new cases announced Wednesday is the highest single-day increase since testing began. However, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah noted that with increased testing, the Maine CDC anticipates an increased number of positive tests.

1,110 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19. 

231 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illness. 43 Mainers are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, 24 of whom are being treated in intensive care and 12 of whom are on ventilators. 

Dr. Shah said there are a total of five cases at the Blue Star Homecare facility in Biddeford.

At Bristol Seafood in Portland there are now a total of 15 cases.

At Cianbro Construction there are now a total of 23 cases, stemming from a work site in Augusta.

There are now 22 people associated with the Clover Healthcare senior living facility in Auburn who have tested positive.

At Durgin Pines in Kittery, there are now a combined 5 cases between residents and staff.

Dr. Shah said the main challenge with congregate living facilities is those people who have the virus but have not developed symptoms, making it difficult to identify that they actually have it.

Maine Department of Corrections Commissioner Randy Liberty said the Maine DOC tested about 64 staff and 123 inmates after an inmate tested positive at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham. Liberty said he expects to receive some of those test results Wednesday afternoon and more in the subsequent days.

Liberty said there is no current plan for universal testing in all of Maine's prisons.

Credit: NCM

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Dr. Nirav 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.



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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