As of noon Wednesday, March 18, 30 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and 12 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.
For the latest information, read our March 18 live blog here.
As of noon Wednesday, 30 Maine residents have been infected with the new coronavirus, while another 12 are presumed to have caught it, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of those cases, the majority — 24 — are in Cumberland County, with another three in Androscoggin County, three in Lincoln County, one each in Kennebec, Penobscot and Oxford counties, two in York and seven which a county wasn’t immediately available Wednesday. One case has recovered.
With the number of cases rising in Maine, here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— The outbreak of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is bringing life to a halt across Maine, and the nation, with schools and businesses closing down and a state of emergency in effect and major cities, including Augusta, Bangor and Portland, instituting curfews. All of that has developed since the first infections were reported last Thursday.
— In response, U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and the Trump administration have proposed cutting checks directly to every American — except millionaires, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin — to help them weather the crisis. Mnuchin said Tuesday that President Donald Trump wants those checks to go out within two weeks, but that will require approval from Congress. That’s part of an overall $850 billion economic stimulus package to shore up the economy, which has taken a hit from the coronavirus.
— Elsewhere, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has proposed a $10 million fund to provide emergency loans to small businesses in the Bay State struggling amid the pandemic.
Watch: What you need to know about handwashing during coronavirus
— In some places, there is bright economic news. A new factory in Bangor began cranking out toilet paper last week, a commodity in high demand right now. Owner Marc Cooper didn’t foresee the global crisis last summer when he acquired the building that houses his business, TissuePlus. Now he has two shifts of workers cranking out rolls of it from early in the morning to past midnight. Still, for those in need of toilet paper, there are a few alternatives that the BDN’s Sam Schipani pulled together here.
— The high demand for products such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer has led to instances of alleged price gouging, according to spokesmen for the Maine attorney general’s office and the Bangor Police Department. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Tuesday signed an order to help protect Mainers from those selling hand sanitizer and other select products at “unconscionable prices.” That order limits sale of products including paper products, medical supplies and food at no more than 15 percent of their price prior to the outbreak, and anyone found to do so may face prosecution.
— On Tuesday, the city of Bangor canceled the upcoming Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, a first in the race’s 54-year history.
— The outbreak also has left the state’s many “snowbirds” — those who travel to warmer climates during the winter months — feeling stranded as it’s unclear whether they will return home as early as planned. To halt the virus’ spread, the government has advised people to maintain “social distance” and avoid unnecessary travel and public spaces. “Starting now, we count the days until we can go back,” Lianne Harris told the BDN. “We’re lucky. We’re healthy. But no matter what, with the closing up and down the coast, throughout the United States, it will make it so that Mainers will not be able to get home as early as they want.”
— The virus is also making itself felt in the 2020 election cycle. A Democratic candidate vying to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins this November, Ross LaJeunesse, is isolating himself after a possible coronavirus exposure. Ohio’s governor, Republican Mike DeWine, postponed the state’s Democratic primary, originally scheduled for Tuesday, until June. It’s not clear what other impacts the coronavirus will have on the election in Maine. But the Legislature approved a bill, which awaits the governor’s signature, that gives Mills the ability to take “any reasonable administrative actions” to facilitate voting in the June primaries. That could include expanding the use of absentee voting to keep voters away from polling locations if the outbreak persists.
— As of Tuesday afternoon, 4,226 people in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have been sickened with the coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 75 people have died from the contagion, the agency reports.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease