As of Sunday afternoon, seven Mainers have tested positive for the new coronavirus, while another five are presumed to have the virus.
The worldwide response to the growing outbreak of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has continued to ratchet up over the weekend. Here are the latest updates about the pandemic and its effect on Maine.
— On Sunday evening, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills declared a civil emergency after announcing the latest confirmed cases of infection. That allows Mills 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. The governor also recommended stopping classroom instruction in Maine and halting gatherings of more than 50 people or 10 people if seniors are involved.
— The first round of coronavirus vaccine trials begins later on Monday in Washington state, which has been hit hard by the virus. The trials will involve 45 healthy adults. But any vaccine won’t be forthcoming for at least 12 to 18 months.
— Also on Sunday, the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates near zero and said it will take other steps to increase lending as the economy takes a hit from the coronavirus. That comes after all the major stock market indexes dipped into bear market territory following what was the single worst day on the market since 1987.
— The hit to economic activity is likely to continue into this week as governors in several states — including California, Indiana and Ohio — moved to close bars, restaurants and other public venues to limit the virus’ spread. Similar moves are being made in Los Angeles and New York City, where Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered restaurants closed except for takeout and delivery service.
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— It’s not just larger states and cities where that is happening. Stores all across Maine — Sawmill Bar and Grill in Millinocket to the Apple Store in the Maine Mall in South Portland — are temporarily closing in response to the outbreak, while workers at many other businesses have been asked to work from home or prepare to do so.
— The Maine Legislature will adjourn early as well.
— Meanwhile, schools across the state — including in Bangor, Portland and Lewiston — are sending students home for the remainder of the year to finish their classes. Colby College in Waterville, Bates College in Lewiston, Bowdoin College in Brunswick and the University of Maine System’s seven campuses will complete their semesters remotely.
— On Saturday, the White House announced that President Donald Trump has tested negative for the coronavirus after he came into contact recently with at least three people who have become infected.
— So far, at least 1,629 people in 46 states and the District of Columbia have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been at least 41 deaths, the agency reports.
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