As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, 23 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and nine others are presumed 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.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced that there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in the state. This means that there is a confirmed case in all 50 states.
Major League Baseball’s teams have pledged $30 million for ballpark workers who will lose income because of the delay to the season caused by the new coronavirus.
Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement Tuesday, a day after pushing back opening day to mid-May at the earliest.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have been approached by representatives of all 30 clubs to help assist the thousands of ballpark employees affected by the delay,” Manfred said in a statement. “Motivated by desire to help some of the most valuable members of the baseball community, each club has committed $1 million.”
Many ballpark employees are paid by the game and will not have that income during the delay. If the schedule is cut, their income likely would be reduced.
–The Associated Press
Bath is the latest Maine city to declare a state of emergency to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Starting Wednesday night, the Sagadahoc County city will require that restaurants, bars, museums, dance clubs and other public gathering places be closed from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. The order doesn’t prohibit takeout service at those establishments.
In addition to Bath, Augusta, Bangor, Biddeford, Portland, Rockland, Waterville, Winthrop and Westbrook had imposed local state of emergency orders as of late Tuesday.
Your phone is disgusting. Here’s how to clean it:
If you’re still having trouble finding Clorox wipes on the shelves, try these:
Camden National Bank, the second largest Maine-based financial institution, said it will offer drive-up service only at most of its 61 branches starting Wednesday. At locations without a drive-up window, the bank said, it will limit the number of people inside at one time.
Camden National is the latest financial institution to announce such restrictions on in-person banking during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the BDN’s Linda Coan O’Kresik
Despite the cancellation of events due to coronavirus, Cindy Oakes brought her St. Patrick’s Day spirit to work at G&M Family Market in Holden on Wednesday. “I am in the age group, though, that I am being careful,” she said.
A drive-thru tent for screening possible coronavirus patients has been set up outside the emergency room in the Northern Light Health Maine Coast Hospital parking lot in Ellsworth. NLH officials say they intend to offer screening for such patients in Ellsworth starting later this week or early next. Patients are advised to call the hospital ahead of time so staff can prepare for their arrival, and will have to get approval from a physician before they are formally tested for COVID-19.
Many readers have asked how they can get tested for the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know:
Maine Gov. Janet Mills and legislative leaders were set to release a sweeping response to the new coronavirus on Tuesday, allowing municipalities and schools to operate on current budgets through January while setting aside $11 million to fight the virus.
The package is in addition to the $73 million revised supplemental budget that initially passed both chambers on Tuesday morning. It is expected to be approved alongside the budget late in the day as lawmakers hustle to wrap up their work more than a month before the previously scheduled end of the 2020 session because of the virus.
Read the story here:
JUST IN: The Parks and Recreation Department, in consultation with City staff and safety teams, has made the decision to cancel the 54th Annual Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, which was originally scheduled for April 18, 2020.
“Given the constantly changing circumstances around COVID-19 and the unknown length we will be dealing with this, we decided to cancel the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race for 2020,” said Tracy Willette, Director of Parks and Recreation. “It’s a difficult event to postpone and reschedule since the water level in the stream continually drops throughout the spring, along with the resources needed to safely run the event.”
And here’s what you need to know about grocery shopping:
Still don’t know the difference between social distancing, self-quarantine and self-isolation? Here’s your guide:
Maine stands to lose about 50 of its scheduled cruise ship visits this year, the result of a Canadian ban on cruise ship visits in that country until July 1.
Bar Harbor has canceled all municipal governmental meetings for the next two weeks, until Monday, March 30, according to the chairman of the elected town council. This includes the council’s regular meeting that had been scheduled for this evening (March 17) for 7 p.m.
Jeff Dobbs, chairman of the council, said Tuesday that the board met Monday in emergency session to handle a few items of regular business and to discuss how the town should operate over the next couple of weeks. The council approved an emergency ordinance that has canceled all scheduled board or committee meetings through the end of next week. Also until at least March 30, the public will be barred from all town buildings, with the exception of the transfer station.
In the meantime, town staff will continue to do their jobs, health permitting, and citizens will be able to access many municipal services over the phone or through the town’s website.
“Whatever decisions we are making is day-to-day,” Dobbs said. “Everything is in flux.”
Maine’s 12 CareerCenters have shut down in-person services effective today, according to the state Department of Labor. Services will be available online or over the phone.
The CareerCenters offer training, career counseling, help with job searches and other employment-related services.
The move by the Maine Department of Labor follows similar actions by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and many municipal and county governments to shut down in-person services to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The two Job Corps centers in Maine will send its student home on a month-long spring break, the U.S. Department of Labor said Tuesday. The Penobscot Job Corps Center is located in Bangor, and the Loring Job Corps Center is located in Limestone. Students live at the centers and receive training in job skills.
The break will initially last through April 14 and will apply to the 121 Job Corps centers across the country. Job Corps will provide students with transportation home or alternative living arrangements if students have no home to which they can return.
The break could extend beyond April 14, the Department of Labor said.
From the BDN’s Judy Harrison:
Penobscot County government offices at 97 Hammond St. in Bangor will close to the public for at least two weeks beginning Wednesday.
Essential staff, including emergency dispatchers and employees of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office and jail will continue working in the facilities.
County commissioners voted to close to the public Tuesday, one day after Bangor officials decided to shut down City Hall. Other counties that have closed their offices to the public include Cumberland and Knox.
Probate Judge Amy Faircloth said that all matters except for emergency guardianships, which would involve a juvenile or an elderly adult, are being postponed. She said that emergency guardianship hearings could be handled by phone.
Prosecutors and support staff in the District Attorney’s office will work in the building on a rotating basis. First court appearances and arraignments of inmates will be held at the Penobscot County Jail by videoconference five days a week, instead of just three.
The jail has suspended all in-person visits and outside programming. Providers of medical and mental health services will be allowed in the jail. Sheriff Troy Morton said Tuesday that he and staff are working to provide inmates with more access to telephone and video phoning services.
Attorney visits are allowed.
Commissioners said Tuesday they would reassess the situation in two weeks to determine when it might be safe to reopen to the public.
“Snowplow manufacturer Fisher Engineering has closed for two weeks in the face of the outbreak of COVID-19,” reports Stephen Betts of the VillageSoup.
Need a break from all of the news? Watch the BDN’s own Troy R. Bennett perform “The Wild Rover.”
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, our first hour of operations will be dedicated to our senior shoppers. All stores will also close an hour earlier in order for employees to clean and restock shelves. Learn more about these change here: https://t.co/53rc2gMeVr
— Dollar General (@DollarGeneral) March 17, 2020
Trump encourages everyone to maximize telehealth to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
Medicare telehealth expansion — patients can now call with Facetime and Skype.
All states can now develop and authorize tests in their own states, Trump says.
Maine is in line with hospitalization rates in other states. There are currently 3 hospitalizations of the 32 cases.
Many of the cases they’ve seen diagnosed are close household contacts of previous cases.
“It’s important we manage expectations about what the future may hold. Additional cases in Maine are likely. As our investigation into these cases proceeds, we will likely find additional counties where there’s evidence of community transmission. This is obviously concerning to everyone who is watching right now.” — Shah
Thus far, Maine CDC staff have fielded over 2,000 consults from individuals across the state. 1,303 negative tests thus far.
3 of these individuals are currently hospitalized.
Many of these cases are linked to close household contacts.
One case is a child under the age of 10. That child does not attend a daycare center, according to Nirav Shah.
There is evidence of community transmission in Cumberland County
There are now cases in 7 counties
32 cases, 23 confirmed / 9 presumptive
From the BDN’s Charles Eichacker
Bangor Savings Bank, the largest Maine-based bank, is closing the lobbies of its 57 branches to anyone without an appointment as part of an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
While the bank is continuing to offer drive-up teller and ATM services, it is imposing the lobby restrictions at all its locations in Maine and New Hampshire, according to Kate Rush, director of community relations. It has also directed nearly 650 employees to start working from home with work-issued laptops beginning on Tuesday. The bank will continue to offer services through its call center and its online and mobile applications.
Other Maine financial institutions that have closed their lobbies and started offering services only at drive-up windows include Norway Savings Bank and Katahdin Trust.
Two other larger Maine-based banks, Camden Savings Bank and Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, had not announced similar restrictions on their websites as of Tuesday morning, but said they were taking steps to regularly clean their lobbies and review guidance from public health authorities.
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has proposed the government give every American a $1,000 check to help them weather the coronavirus, which is disrupting economic life in the country, leading businesses to temporarily close and causing churn in the stock market.
Read the full story here:
Until then, here’s some of our latest coronavirus coverage today:
The White House will also be holding a press briefing at 11:30 a.m. today. We will be providing the live stream here on this blog.
The Maine CDC will be holding a press conference at 11 a.m. today. We will be providing the live stream on this live blog.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced today that all Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices are closed, effective immediately.
The closure is in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among staff and the public, and will remain in place until further notice.
Secretary Dunlap is working with the Maine Legislature to extend all registrations, temporary plates, registrations, disability placards, State ID cards and driver’s licenses that are expiring during this state of emergency. More information will be available soon.
Actor Idris Elba, who is well known for his role as Stringer Bell on HBO’s “The Wire,” was among those who have become infected in recent days.
Nationally, cases of infection have surged since Friday, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1,629 people in 46 states and the District of Columbia had been sickened by the virus. On Monday, the CDC reported that infections had risen to 3,487 in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, while deaths have risen to 68, from 41 on Friday.
The U.S. surgeon general, Jerome Adams, on Monday made a dire prediction that the U.S. could be on track to see a number of infections rivaling Italy, which is among the hardest hit European nations. Two weeks ago, Italy had 1,700 cases of coronavirus and had reported 34 deaths. Now, Italy is reporting an estimated 25,000 cases and more than 1,800 deaths.
To help halt the spread of the coronavirus, the Maine court system has opted to vacate warrants for unpaid fines and fees and for failing to appear. State and federal jury trials in Maine have already been suspended.
The Bangor City Hall and other city offices will close to the public at the end of the day Tuesday. Portland’s City Hall has been closed since a city employee tested likely positive for the coronavirus last week.
Bangor schools have closed to the next two weeks, but Superintendent Betsy Webb said Monday that the closure could extend beyond that period. Still, any Bangor students can continue to get two free meals a day through the school system. Those will be made available through pick-up sites and delivery.
Bangor’s two hospitals — Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital — are starting to delay some elective procedures and limit visits to patients as they try to make sure they have enough beds and resources to handle a possible influx of coronavirus cases. MaineHealth, a Portland-based health care system, also is suspending elective procedures and postponing other non-emergency visits throughout its network. That is expected to last through the end of day Friday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday closed the Canadian border to halt the spread of the coronavirus infection, but that includes exceptions for U.S. citizens. So that will likely not immediately impact Maine residents who travel across the border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said last week that it would implement stricter screening at border crossings for anyone displaying potential signs of illness.
On the stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 3,000 points Monday, its largest single day hit since 1987. That drop was fueled by growing concerns of slowing economy activity as businesses temporarily shutter and that the coronavirus could tip the global economy into a recession.
The effect of the virus continues to ripple through the economy, upending everyday life. Freeport-based L.L.Bean is temporarily closing its flagship store and all other U.S. retail locations. Gov. Janet Mills in a letter to the federal government seeking low-cost loans for businesses detailed the experience of 14 small businesses that have experienced “ substantial economic injury” from the coronavirus. Those businesses ranged from a maker of cat products to others relyi ng heavily on tourism. Even casinos in Bangor and Oxford have shuttered for the next two weeks as the virus spreads through the state.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day, but revelers will likely find few places to raise a glass in good health. Some bars and pubs have closed their doors for the next couple days. In Bangor, city officials have declared a state of emergency and placed a curfew on bars, restaurants and other public gathering places between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Portland set a stricter curfew, which is in effect from 6 a.m. Tuesday to 2 a.m. Wednesday and then 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Good morning everyone, hope you’re staying safe and social distancing. We’ll be updating this live blog with the latest information about coronavirus throughout the day.