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Maine Coronavirus Daily Update: Cape Memory Center now a focus for Maine CDC

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Friday, May 22, 2020



2 p.m.

The Maine CDC announced two additional deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state total to 75. 

One of the deaths announced Friday was a woman in her 80s from Aroostook County. The other was a woman in her 80s from Kennebec County.

Of the now 1,948 COVID-19 cases, 1,749 are confirmed by test and 199 are probable (meaning someone who has not tested positive but has been in close contact with someone who has).

1,192 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

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

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said they enacted their emergency preparedness operations plan at Cape Memory Center, aimed at ensuring prompt care for all 57 residents and staff who tested positive, as well as others associated with the facility. The Maine CDC is investigating the outbreak.

Because of Maine's expanded laboratory capacity, the Maine CDC will now offer universal testing at facilities after 1 positive case. These facilities include places where people could come into close contact, as well as facilities where people are coming in and out.

In accordance with directives from President Donald Trump, Governor Janet Mills ordered that the United States and State of Maine flags be flown at half-staff immediately until sunset on Sunday, May 24th in solemn remembrance of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mills also ordered that the United States and State of Maine flags be flown at half-staff this Monday, May 25, 2020 until noon in honor of Memorial Day.

The governor issued the following statement:

“COVID-19 has taken the lives of seventy-five Maine people. They were parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, and loved ones; they were members of our Maine family, and they are missed every day. Today, our State continues to do all we can to fight the ravages of this silent deadly virus, but let us also pause to remember those we have lost. I hope all Maine people will join me in not only offering our deepest sympathies to their families, friends, and communities, but also in recommitting ourselves to doing everything we can as individuals and as a state to save others.

As we mourn the lives lost, we recognize that this Monday also marks an important day of remembrance of those brave servicemen and women who perished in service to our nation and the families and loved ones they left behind. Although this Memorial Day will be different from those past, what is not different is our unwavering gratitude for those who have faithfully served our state and nation in the Armed Forces and who gave, as President Lincoln said, ‘the last full measure of devotion’. On this Memorial Day, and every day, let us express our deepest gratitude to them, their families, and those still serving every day to keep us safe.”

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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