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Real-time Maine coronavirus COVID-19 updates: Maine CDC, DHHS expand contact tracing capabilities

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Tuesday, May 26, 2020



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Governor Janet Mills announced Monday that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is expanding contact tracing by increasing the number of skilled staff and volunteers, harnessing innovative technology, and securing social services to help people with COVID-19 maintain self-isolation.

The State’s expanded contact tracing parallels its major increase in testing capacity. Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and protecting people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent their transmitting infection to others. Taken together, testing and contract tracing enable Maine to identify, investigate, and isolate individuals with COVID-19 to prevent its spread in the absence of effective treatment or a vaccine.

“Expanded testing and contact tracing are critical to both identifying and limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Maine,” Mills said. “By increasing the number of people conducting contact tracing and by deploying the new Sara Alert system to assist us, we can improve our efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, protect the health of Maine people, and support our goal of safely restarting Maine’s economy.”

More information on the expansion of contact tracing can be found HERE.

The Maine CDC reported the following on Tuesday: 

  • Total cases = 2,109
  • Confirmed cases = 1,894
  • Probable cases = 215
  • Cumulative hospitalized = 258
  • Recovered = 1,318
  • Deaths = 79

The one additional death announced Tuesday was a man in his 80s from Cumberland County.

There are now a total of 67 confirmed COVID-19 cases at Cape Memory Care in Cape Elizabeth. One individual associated with the facility has passed away.

There are 26 confirmed cases stemming from an outbreak at a Cianbro Construction site in Augusta.

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. 

NEWS CENTER Maine YouTube Coronavirus Playlist