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Maine CDC coronavirus updates: Maine expands testing capabilities, removes nearly all restrictions

Maine CDC has eliminated testing prioritization system and will now allow health care providers in to seek testing for anyone they suspect of having COVID-19

MAINE, USA — EVERY NUMBER IS A LIFE: Celebrating the life of loved ones during the faceless anonymity of Maine coronavirus COVID-19 fatalities. 

KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

MONDAY MAY 18

2 p.m.

Maine Governor Janet Mills announced that Maine has moved closer to universal COVID-19 testing.

A press release from the Mills' administration said the Maine CDC has eliminated its testing prioritization system and will now allow health care providers in Maine to seek testing for anyone they suspect of having COVID-19 coronavirus.  

 "The elimination of the system is primarily driven by the Mills Administration’s agreement with IDEXX that more than triples the State’s texting capacity. That expansion is now operational, allowing Maine CDC to notify health care providers today of significantly increased access to in-state testing for anyone suspected of having the disease, which includes people with symptoms as well as those who have had significant, close contact with a person with COVID-19, such as a spouse."

READ MORE ABOUT THE MILLS ANNOUNCEMENT HERE: Maine CDC eliminates COVID-19 testing prioritization, says anyone can now seek testing

Dr. Shah says a woman in her 80s from Cumberland County has died with COVID-19.

Of the 1,713 total cases, 380 are among health care workers. 

Dr. Shah says the Maine CDC has identified a new outbreak. At the Blue Star Homecare facility in Biddeford, where one resident and two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

Over the weekend, the Maine CDC began working with Bristol Seafood, a food processing plant in Portland, who identified staff members with COVID-19. The Maine CDC says they are working with the plant to collect additional samples for testing. The plant has paused production in the meantime.

At the Clover retirement facility in Auburn, one resident and four staff members have tested positive. Given the outbreak, the facility is now beginning universal testing and sending samples to the Maine CDC. Overall, Dr. Shah says there are over 500 samples that will be tested. 

At the Cianbro construction site, there has now been a total of 19 individuals across multiple states who have tested positive, and the Maine CDC's investigation is still underway. Epidemiologists are trying to determine whether the workers got COVID-19 while in Maine or if they had it before coming to Maine from other states.

12 p.m.

The Maine CDC announced one additional death of a person who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state total to 71.

Of the now 1,713 cases in Maine, 1,533 are confirmed by test, and 180 are probable (meaning someone who has not tested positive but has been on close contact with someone who has).

1,053 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

223 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illness.

Credit: NCM

WEEKEND UPDATE

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

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. 

NEWS CENTER Maine YouTube Coronavirus Playlist