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March 15 evening update: Latest on the coronavirus and Maine

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Signs of coronavirus-induced closures and changes in service sprouted up in Portland in the last few days. Worship services and a Maine 200th birthday lecture (top photo) were cancelled at the First Parish Church. The public library (above left) is also closed. Bard Coffee in the Old Port is now offering only takeout.

As of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15, seven Maine residents have been confirmed positive and five others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state.

Here’s a roundup of today’s COVID-19 news in Maine and New England, as of 8:50 p.m. To read all of our coverage, click here.

— Janet Mills declared a civil state emergency on Sunday. Read the full declaration here.

— Mills’ emergency order allows the governor to assume more power over the outbreak, including suspending the enforcement of laws, establishing emergency reserves of certain products and entering into mutual aid agreements with other states or countries.

— Mills recommended stopping classroom instruction in Maine — though many have announced they will close this week — and halting gatherings of more than 50 people or 10 people if seniors are involved.

— “Things are likely to get worse before they get better, but they will get better and together, we will get through this,” Mills said.

Seven positive tests for coronavirus have been confirmed by federal health officials and another five people are likely to have it, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Four of Maine’s latest so-called presumptive positive cases appeared in Cumberland County and one in Lincoln County.

— The virus is likely being transmitted to and by people who have not traveled internationally, which is known as “ community spread,” said Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Right now, that’s happening in Cumberland County but he expected it to continue into other parts of Maine.

— The first presumptive positive case in the state for someone under 18 is a male residing in Cumberland County who is now isolated at home. According to a letter to parents from the Cape Elizabeth School District Superintendent Donna H. Wolfrom on Sunday evening, the boy is a student at Cape Elizabeth Middle School.

— A male in his 80s who tested positive is a resident at Oceanview in Falmouth, a senior living community. His spouse also tested positive.

— A Cumberland County woman in her 70s is isolated at home.

— A Lincoln County health care worker in her 30s is isolated at home.

— The fifth presumptive positive person is a male in his 40s.

— One case identified Friday as a preliminary presumptive positive has been reclassified as negative.

— Here’s what else we know about the Mainers who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Janet Mills announced she would submit an emergency bill to extend unemployment benefits to people affected by the new coronavirus.

Coronavirus could also affect campaigns and voter registration in Maine since traditional forms of traditional campaign activities such as town halls, door-to-door canvassing and high-dollar fundraisers are in conflict with social distancing guidelines.

— Despite being in direct contact with people who later tested positive for coronavirus, President Donald Trump tested negative for the new coronavirus, according to the president’s personal physician.

— Weary travelers returning to the U.S. amid coronavirus-related travel restrictions were greeted by long lines and hourslong waits for required medical screenings at airports.

More schools are suspending in-person classes. The first Aroostook County schools announced closures on Sunday.

— As more school cancellations come in, we’ll be gathering them here. You can also find the latest information regarding business closures, religious service cancellations, sports suspensions and event postponements. Is there a closure that’s not on our list? Email bdnnews@bangordailynews.com and we’ll add it.

— Internet, wireless, cable, water and other companies say they are suspending shutoffs for nonpayment during the coronavirus outbreak, with some adding extra services to help Mainers get by.

Here’s how to make your food last longer during the coronavirus.

— As ski resorts across the United States grappled with how to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, industry giants Vail Resorts and Alterra Mountain Company decided to close 34 ski resorts, including Attitash and Wildcat in New Hampshire. Sunday River, Sugarloaf Mountain, Hermon Mountain and Shawnee Peak ski areas also announced they would be suspending operations.

Maine celebrated its 200th birthdaywithout a birthday party.

—Many houses of worship in Maine canceled services over the weekend to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This is how Mass looked at a church that didn’t cancel its services.

— Self-quarantined and stuck inside? Here are 5 things you can try.

— The BDN has been compiling questions about the coronavirus submitted by our readers. You can find the answers to those questions here.

— Follow along with the latest coronavirus updates with the BDN’s daily live blog.

— The Maine CDC set up a coronavirus hotline. The hotline is available by calling 211 or 866-811-5695. It can also be reached by texting your zipcode to 898-211 or emailing info@211maine.org.

— Throughout the rest of New England, Massachusetts has 138 confirmed cases, Connecticut has 26, Rhode Island has 20, New Hampshire has 13, and Vermont has eight, according to The New York Times.

— Nationwide, there are 3,487 cases and 62 deaths from the coronavirus as of Sunday evening, according to The New York Times.

This map shows the latest number of positive test results for the coronavirus, by state.


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