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Real-time Maine coronavirus updates: Tuesday, August 18

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Tuesday, August 18, 2020.

MAINE, USA — KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

TUESDAY, AUGUST 18

The Maine CDC reported zero additional deaths of people with COVID-19, meaning the state death total remains at 127.

Of the 4,213 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 3,781 are confirmed by test and 432 are probable.

401 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illness. 10 people in Maine are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19, with five being treated in intensive care units and one on a ventilator.

3,649 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

Maine is currently conducting about 195 tests per every 100,000 people in the state. 

According to Maine CDC Director Dr. Shah, Maine's 7-day positivity rate stands at about 0.75 percent. The national 7-day positivity rate is about 7 percent.

Outbreak Updates

Dr. Shah maintained there are 24 cases stemming from a wedding reception at Big Moose Inn in Millinocket, even though Millinocket Regional Hospital CEO Dr. Robert Peterson said Monday there are at least 28 cases stemming from the reception.

"What (the hospital is) reporting is the total number of individuals who are positive, what we're reporting is the number that are associated with the outbreak. As we learn more those numbers will likely converge," Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Tuesday.

Dr. Shah said Maine CDC is looking into whether there were other points of transmission beyond Big Moose Inn.

"Right now we know there were cases associated with the Big Moose Inn but we're trying to get more granularity over what the specifics are," Dr. Shah said.

Dr. Shah said it's another reminder that COVID-19 can exist anywhere and can spread rapidly.

Maine CDC is now working to find out more precisely where people got infected, as well as where they may have spread COVID-19. They are also looking into what precautions were taken by the venue and organizers, such as whether or not guests' temperatures were taken, distance between tables, etc.

Maine CDC is also looking for patterns, such as whether or not the people who tested positive were clustered in one part of the venue compared to those who did not test positive.

"It's going to take some time to make sure we get all of this right rather than rush to judgement and say 'Aha! We have figured out exactly what happened,'" Dr. Shah said. "In order to know exactly what happened, we've got to make sure we take a look under every single rock and stone, and that's what's underway right now."

Maine CDC continues to conduct case investigations and contact tracing for guests, staff, and people who potentially came in close contact with confirmed cases during and after the event. An outbreak is defined as three or more cases that are epidemiologically linked.

There are a total of 13 cases at Hancock Foods in Hancock.

There are a total of 13 cases at Merrill Blueberry Farms in Ellsworth.

At Wyman's Farm in Milbridge, there are a total of seven cases.

Dr. Shah said Maine CDC is releasing individuals from quarantine as they are done (about 14 days after last contact with confirmed case), so they can go back to work.

Credit: NCM

MONDAY, AUGUST 17

The Maine CDC reports an additional 29 COVID-19 cases Monday for a total of 4,197 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 3,767 are confirmed and 430 are probable. No additional deaths were reported on Monday, leaving the total at 127. 

3,638 Mainers have recovered. 

THE DATA

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.

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) 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 COVID-19 Playlist