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March 17 live blog: The latest on coronavirus and Maine

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.

— Have you been tested for the coronavirus? Share your story.

— Here are answers to questions from BDN readers about the new coronavirus

— Do you have questions about the coronavirus? Ask us here.

— Here’s what has been canceled or postponed in Maine due to coronavirus

— Interactive map: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in each state


Rosemary Lausier
March 17, 20208:06 pm

New Bangor factory starts making toilet paper just in the nick of time


Rosemary Lausier
March 17, 20207:59 pm

Not all who want to get a coronavirus test can. Here’s why, and what to do if you can’t.


Rosemary Lausier
March 17, 20207:22 pm

March 17 evening update: The latest on coronavirus and Maine


Ali Tobey
March 17, 20206:56 pm

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. 


Ali Tobey
March 17, 20206:43 pm


Rosemary Lausier
March 17, 20206:36 pm

Part-time USM faculty member tests positive for coronavirus


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20206:04 pm

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


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20205:57 pm


Matthew Stone
March 17, 20205:43 pm

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20204:57 pm

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


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20204:40 pm

Your phone is disgusting. Here’s how to clean it:

How to clean the bundle of germs that is your phone


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20204:39 pm

If you’re still having trouble finding Clorox wipes on the shelves, try these:

If you can’t find what you need at stores, here’s how to easily make your own cleaners


Matthew Stone
March 17, 20204:19 pm

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.


Matthew Stone
March 17, 20204:14 pm

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.


Bill Trotter
March 17, 20204:11 pm

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.
 


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20204:02 pm

Many readers have asked how they can get tested for the coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know:

How to get tested for the coronavirus


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20204:02 pm

Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race is canceled in response to coronavirus


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20203:50 pm

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:

Maine lawmakers set to pass coronavirus response bill allowing town meeting delays


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20202:51 pm

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.”


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20202:50 pm

And here’s what you need to know about grocery shopping:

How to grocery shop during the coronavirus outbreak


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20202:49 pm

Still don’t know the difference between social distancing, self-quarantine and self-isolation? Here’s your guide:

What you should know about social distancing, self-quarantine and self-isolation


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20202:16 pm

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.

Story here:

With Canada’s cruise ship ban, Maine likely to lose 50 visits and 80,000 passengers


Bill Trotter
March 17, 20202:01 pm

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.”


Matthew Stone
March 17, 20201:47 pm

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.


Matthew Stone
March 17, 20201:40 pm

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20201:29 pm

Here are the Bangor restaurants and stores offering pickup and delivery


Matthew Stone
March 17, 20201:26 pm

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.

The public will be able to access Probate Court services, the Registry of Deeds office, and other county services online at penobscot-county.net or by telephone at 207-943-8535. 

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20201:11 pm

“Snowplow manufacturer Fisher Engineering has closed for two weeks in the face of the outbreak of COVID-19,” reports Stephen Betts of the VillageSoup.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20201:08 pm

Need a break from all of the news? Watch the BDN’s own Troy R. Bennett perform “The Wild Rover.”

Amid coronavirus warnings, the St. Patrick’s Day shows will go on(line)


Christopher Burns
March 17, 202012:54 pm

The city of Augusta has joined Bangor and Portland by establishing a curfew, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., for bars, restaurants and other public venues.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202012:30 pm

Maine Maple Sunday Weekend events postponed in response to coronavirus


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202012:04 pm


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:42 am

Trump encourages everyone to maximize telehealth to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:41 am

Medicare telehealth expansion — patients can now call with Facetime and Skype. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:40 am

All states can now develop and authorize tests in their own states, Trump says. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:38 am


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:37 am

Maine is in line with hospitalization rates in other states. There are currently 3 hospitalizations of the 32 cases. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:25 am

Many of the cases they’ve seen diagnosed are close household contacts of previous cases.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:13 am

“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


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:11 am

Thus far, Maine CDC staff have fielded over 2,000 consults from individuals across the state. 1,303 negative tests thus far.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:11 am

3 of these individuals are currently hospitalized.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:11 am

Many of these cases are linked to close household contacts.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:10 am

One case is a child under the age of 10. That child does not attend a daycare center, according to Nirav Shah.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:10 am

There is evidence of community transmission in Cumberland County


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:10 am

There are now cases in 7 counties


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202011:10 am

32 cases, 23 confirmed / 9 presumptive


Matthew Stone
March 17, 202011:09 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202010:52 am

Democrat vying to unseat Susan Collins isolating after possible coronavirus exposure


Christopher Burns
March 17, 202010:44 am

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:

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/17/national-politics/mitt-romney-pitches-1000-checks-to-help-americans-cope-with-virus-outbreak/


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202010:43 am

Until then, here’s some of our latest coronavirus coverage today:

The show must go on, so Penobscot Theatre will livestream play about opioid crisis

How to exercise outside while practicing social distancing

Schools could be closed for weeks. Here’s how to set a schedule for your kids.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202010:39 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202010:38 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 202010:31 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:50 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:49 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:49 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:49 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:49 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 17, 20209:49 am

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.


Have feedback? Want to know more? Send us ideas for follow-up stories.

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