70 cases of coronavirus have been detected in Maine

Reprinted courtesy of our media partner, Bangor Daily News.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah speaks with the press at a daily briefing in Augusta on Thursday. The Maine CDC said Saturday that 70 coronavirus cases have been detected in Maine.

As of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 70 Maine residents have been confirmed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.

Seventy cases of the new coronavirus were reported in Maine on Saturday, up from 56 the day before, according to health officials.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday updated statewide totals posted on its website.

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In addition to the 70 cases that have been confirmed through testing, another 2,264 Maine residents had tested negative for the coronavirus as of 1:30 p.m. Saturday, according to Maine CDC.

The CDC on Saturday also said the number of residents who had recovered from the virus had risen to three.

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said Friday that five Maine residents have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus.

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The news follows further efforts this week to halt the virus’ spread, with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday banning gatherings of more than 10 people and ordering restaurants and bars to end dine-in service. The city of Bangor on Thursday afternoon extended restrictions under a temporary emergency order establishing an 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. curfew to other businesses, such as gyms and yoga studios, not covered by the governor’s order.

Public schools have closed across the state, with many of them tentatively projecting they will re-open on April 27, and university campuses have sent students home. Many churches are holding services and Masses online.

On Saturday, Maine’s congressional delegation wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, urging him to quickly release personal protective equipment from the federal stockpile to keep health care workers responding to the pandemic safe.

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So far, the coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 41 cases have been detected, according to the Maine CDC. Shah has said there is evidence of “community transmission” in Cumberland County, but none yet in other counties where the coronavirus has been detected. Shah has said his agency does “anticipate community transmission” will appear at some point outside Cumberland County.

Other cases have been detected in Androscoggin (3), Kennebec (4), Lincoln (4), Oxford (4), Penobscot (2), Sagadahoc (1), and York (8) counties.

Locations were not available Saturday for three cases. The cases listed Saturday included the first detected in Sagadahoc County.

The Maine CDC on Saturday also changed the way it reported coronavirus case counts, eliminating a category called “presumptive positive” for tests conducted by private laboratories, then confirmed by the Maine CDC. Now, because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confidence in Maine CDC’s ability to confirm positive test results from non-governmental labs, the state agency is reporting all such positive cases as “confirmed,” according to Maine CDC Spokesperson Robert Long.

By Saturday afternoon, a sixth resident at the Ocean View retirement community in Falmouth had tested positive for COVID-19. The resident, who was connected to the initial two cases, was in self-quarantine and is now being treated at Maine Medical Center.

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Also on Friday, Mount Desert Island Hospital confirmed that a patient at the hospital had tested positive for COVID-19. The positive test was the first of 75 COVID-19 tests the hospital has administered. The patient remained in his or her vehicle on the hospital’s campus to be tested and never entered the facility, the hospital said.

On Thursday, Maine CDC officials said a Hancock County resident had tested positive for coronavirus, but a day later they said it actually was a Penobscot County resident who had been tested by a Hancock County healthcare provider. It was not clear Saturday whether the case reported by MDI Hospital and the one initially reported Thursday by Maine CDC were about the same patient, or if they represented two different people.

On Saturday, Maine CDC still listed no confirmed cases for Hancock County.

Colby and Bates colleges on Thursday revealed that cases on the coronavirus had been confirmed on their campuses. Bates did not specify if the case there involved a student, staff or faculty member. Colby administrators said that an athletics department staffer had contracted the virus. Both are under isolation, the colleges said.

Bowdoin on Friday announced three of its students had, over spring break, come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. They have not returned to Brunswick or the Bowdoin campus and are self-isolating out-of-state.

As of Friday, the virus had sickened 15,219 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 200 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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