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March 18 live blog: Latest on the coronavirus and Maine

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.

— 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


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20207:19 pm

March evening update: Latest on the coronavirus and Maine


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20207:05 pm

Trump plans $1T coronavirus response including Collins-backed loans to small businesses


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20205:46 pm

Maine lab starts breeding mice for coronavirus vaccine


Rosemary Lausier
March 18, 20205:44 pm

At a time when everyone is advised to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, those without a home have fewer places to go than ever.

Read the story here: 

When everyone’s told to stay at home, people without homes have no place to go


Matthew Stone
March 18, 20205:38 pm

From the BDN’s Nick Sambides Jr.

Bucksport town officials say they are doing what they can to help the town keep going during the coronavirus pandemic by compiling a comprehensive list of all that Bucksport businesses, community groups, schools, social service agencies and volunteers are doing as the crisis continues — whether it’s shutting down or shifting to delivery service only. The one-stop-shopping list helps residents support town businesses and each other, Town Manager Susan Lessard said.

The list includes changes of hours, closings, services added, special offers – such as coupons – and volunteer activities, according to Bucksport Community and Economic Development Richard Rotella, who is maintaining the list. He encourages anyone in Bucksport with a potential list offering to telephone or email him with information. As of Wednesday evening, 69 entries were listed.


Rosemary Lausier
March 18, 20205:29 pm

From the BDN’s Abigail Curtis

All city facilities in Belfast will close until March 31, except for the transfer station, which will continue to accept commercial and residential trash. The transfer station will not take recyclables.
City Manager Erin Herbig has stopped short of declaring a state of emergency, as some other Maine communities have done. However, the public library, city hall and many other businesses in town have closed because of the coronavirus.

Councilor Neal Harkness advises people to check information before spreading rumors on social media.

“I’ve found the silver lining to this to be the incredible response of the community. I think there may be something positive that comes out of this,” he said. “There’s also a dark side, a shadow side. People are afraid, and when they’re afraid, they’re really quick to jump on a rumor. When people are scared, they’ll believe anything they hear. I want to encourage people to check and verify.”

 Harkness dispelled rumors that there had been a riot at Hannaford from people fighting over toilet paper, that the store was going to close and that there was a person with COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — being treated at Waldo County General Hospital. 
None of those are true, he said.


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20204:49 pm

What Maine parents can learn from homeschoolers about educating at home


Matthew Stone
March 18, 20204:09 pm

From the BDN’s Nick Sambides Jr.

Maine Maritime Academy dismissed students from the Castine campus due to the coronavirus, but not before, in lieu of a graduation ceremony, graduating seniors had a brief, quiet moment on campus at 4 p.m. Wednesday in which their names were read aloud to help them “gain some closure to their tenure at MMA,” President William Brennan said in an email.

“It is not a graduation and not an event for faculty, staff, other students or guests. All present will maintain social distancing and observe best practices,” Brennan said. “Our hope is that there will be an opportunity to celebrate the class in a more traditional method at some point in the future.”

The ceremony came after Gov. Janet Mills recommended a halt to gatherings of more than 50 people — or 10 people when people at special risk of contracting COVID-19 are present. Maine Maritime Academy enrolls about 1,000 students, according to its website.

Wednesday was the last day of on-campus instruction. Teaching will be done remotely effective March 30 until further notice, with students living on campus told to move out by Sunday at 4 p.m., Brennan said. The school recommends that they leave by Thursday.

The school has said it hopes it can hold some form of a commencement celebration later in the year.


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20203:56 pm

EMMC walk-in care patient tests positive for coronavirus


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20203:39 pm

Steve McClary, lead maintenance worker for Greater Portland Metro, disinfects a bus — including the signal cords — in Portland on Tuesday. Buses are now being wiped down twice a day in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. (Photos by Troy R. Bennett | BDN staff)


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 20202:54 pm

While there’s no known cases of pets like dogs and cats having COVID-19 and transmitting it to humans, veterinarians are cautioning pet owners that transfer may still be possible — via an animal’s fur.

Read the story here:

What you need to know about your pets and spreading coronavirus


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20202:39 pm


Ali Tobey
March 18, 20202:22 pm

Coronavirus, cold or the flu? Here’s how to tell the difference.


Matthew Stone
March 18, 20202:14 pm

The Bangor Pride Festival and Parade is the latest annual event to be postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Health Equity Alliance said Wednesday morning that the week of events that culminates in a parade and festival in downtown Bangor will be postponed to August. Bangor Pride was scheduled to kick off June 21, with the parade set for June 27. Some 2,500 to 3,000 people attended last year’s Pride festival, about twice the number who participated in the 2018 festival.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 20201:49 pm

Citing a need to support workers responding to the coronavirus pandemic, many daycares in the Bangor area remain open, as other services and businesses around them scale back and schools close.

Read the story here:

As schools close, daycares remain open to ‘stand with America’s essential employees’


Natalie Williams
March 18, 20201:16 pm

Maine sees massive spike in people filing for unemployment


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:58 pm

The story we never thought we’d have to write:

If you run out of toilet paper, here’s what you can use instead


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:56 pm

The Roman Cathoilc Diocese of Portland on Wednesday temporarily suspended all daily and Sunday Masses in response to the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Maine.

Bishop Robert Deeley said that he was following the guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention based on the size of most congregations in Maine.

Read the story here: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/18/news/state/catholic-bishop-suspends-all-masses-in-maine/


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:54 pm


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:54 pm


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:53 pm

Lead maintenance worker Steve McClary disinfects a Metro bus in Portland on Tuesday. Buses are now being wiped down twice a day in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. [Troy R. Bennett | BDN]


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:52 pm

Every winter, lots of Mainers head south to ride out the coldest months in warmer climes. This year, though, a gloom has been cast over their sunny days by the novel coronavirus, which has upheaved plans and caused some snowbirds to wonder when they will be able to make it home.

Lianne and Walt Harris, of Belfast, spend November to May in Tampa, Florida. They like it there, — and they have family there — but their real lives are located 1,500 miles north, they said.

The many unknowns of the coronavirus, and the ever-tightening controls to try to stop its spread, will likely mean that they can’t leave as soon as they want.

They’re not complaining — but it’s hard to be away from home during a time of crisis, they said.

Story here: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/18/news/midcoast/maine-snowbirds-feeling-stuck-down-south-thanks-to-coronavirus/


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:51 pm

A group of Bangor health care organizations has chosen Bass Park — the site of the Bangor State Fair and the harness racing track — as the satellite location for patients to receive drive-up testing for the coronavirus with the approval of a doctor.

Read the story here:

Bangor health care groups open appointment-only coronavirus testing center


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:41 pm

Janet Mills orders Maine eateries closed except for takeout, bans gatherings of more than 10

Read the full story here:

Janet Mills orders Maine eateries closed except for takeout, bans gatherings of more than 10


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:40 pm

First coronavirus case confirmed in Penobscot County

Read the full story here:

First coronavirus case confirmed in Penobscot County


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:21 pm

“I was heartened that we have our first recovered case. Coupled with that we have 4 individuals in the hospital. I can’t comment on their specific conditions, but that rate of hospitalization is consistent with some of the data, what we’ve seen in national data. We wish those individuals nothing but the best,” Shah says.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:20 pm

Question: “What can we say about the cases that we don’t know about?”

Shah: “Any outbreak…there is always the question of how much of the iceberg are we seeing. That’s just the nature of looking at infectious diseases. It’s always a concern. It’s heightened here for some reasons, lessened for others. Heightened because what we’ve seen recently greater concern for the fact that individuals who don’t yet have the disease can spread the disease. In light of that new data Maine CDC augmented the way that we’re doing investigations, going from 14 to 16 days. If individuals who don’t have symptoms are able to spread the disease in large numbers, that means more of the iceberg is unseen. Lessened because 80% of victims have mild symptoms that don’t require hospitalization. That still means 14-20% of people have severe disease. Bottom line, in any situation, we’re always looking at how much of the iceberg we may not be seeing.”


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:16 pm

Senator Collins and Senator Marco Rubio will hold a press conference at 12:30 p.m. today on a legislative plan they authored that would help prevent Americans from losing their jobs and keep small businesses from going under as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:12 pm

Shah: What we know about the coronavirus test is a few things:

–Ensuring that those who are tested have symptoms. If you test someone who does not have symptoms, it’s impossible to know what a negative results means.

–How to think about testing in a world where community transmission is occurring. Does it mean that only individuals who are in a hospital should be tested? Should we test health care workers, first responders? Those are questions we’re looking at, partly because we want to make sure that every person who needs a test, can get a test. And when we get a result, we can interpret them properly. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:09 pm

“This is pretty aggressive action. Ask any of the restaurants or bars who will be losing tremendous business. Telling people they can’t congregate in groups of more than 10 is pretty aggressive action,” Mills says. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202012:04 pm

“We are certainly aware of this concern, this shortage of protective equipment has been a challenge and concern from day 1. We at the CDC have been doing a few things to beef up the supplies that we’ve got. Early on we requested a distribution from the strategic national stockpile for additional supplies of protective equipment. That distribution is coming in, the N95 masks has come in. That’s approximately 12,000+ masks. That is being distributed to the most critical providers…ensuring health care workers can treat patients and have protective equipment to test patients.” — Shah


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:57 am

“We hope that all 42 individuals will completely recover. In the meantime, avoiding close spaces with others is the best means to avoid that spread,” says Mills. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:56 am

“A staff member at Old Orchard Beach High School has tested positive for coronavirus and students may have been exposed to the virus, the school superintendent announced Wednesday,” Gillian Graham of the Portland Press Herald reports.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:54 am

“It will get worse before it gets better. But it will get better and we will get through this.”


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:53 am

“We all have responsibility to do our part.”


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:53 am

“I will do everything in my power to protect the health and welfare of Maine people,” Mills says.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:51 am

Mills’ encourages employees to work remotely, if at all possible. If not possible, implement social distancing best practices.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:50 am

Janet Mills strongly urges businesses to close their doors for the next 2 weeks and minimize spread of the virus. This will not include businesses that provide essential services — including food processing, industrial, construction, trash collection, grocery and household goods, home repair, auto repair, pharmacy, other medical facilities, health care, child care, insurance, banks, gas stations, laundromats, veterinary clinics, shipping facilities, public transportation, hotel and commercial lodging.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:49 am

Current cases:

Androscoggin: 3; Cumberland 23; Kennebec 1: Lincoln 3: Oxford 1; Penobscot 1; York 2: 8 under investigation


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:48 am

Mills is prohibiting all gatherings of more than 10 people that are not work-related. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:47 am

Takeout and delivery are still allowed. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:47 am

“In light of these new cases, and those anticipated, those expected to come, I’m taking more aggressive action to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in our state and protect the Maine people. During the authority granted to me, I’m granting an emergency order that all restaurants and bars statewide close to dine-in customers. This will extend for the next 14 days.” — Janet Mills


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:46 am

30 are confirmed, 12 are presumptive. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:43 am

1 of the cases has now recovered. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:43 am

2,230 consults have been fielded since the activation began. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:43 am

Of those 42, 4 are hospitalized. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:43 am

If someone is from another state, but in Maine, the Maine CDC asks their state of residence to oversee that case. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:42 am

Yesterday there were 32, today there are 42. There are 14 new cases. In that, they have transferred 3 cases to the state of residence of those individuals, according to Shah. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:42 am

There are now 42 cases of coronavirus in Maine. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:32 am

The press conference still has not yet started. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:27 am

We are working on fixing the video stream.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:23 am

The press conference has not yet started. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:09 am

Janet Mills is expected to speak immediately following Nirav Shah. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202011:08 am

Today’s press conference with the Maine CDC is scheduled to begin at 11:15 a.m. We will have a live stream of the press conference here. 


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:41 am


Christopher Burns
March 18, 202010:31 am

Volatility continued Wednesday morning in the stock market. The S&P 500 sank more than 5 percent, erasing most its gains from the day before.

Read the full story here:

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/18/national-business/stocks-sink-again-as-recession-fears-batter-markets/


Christopher Burns
March 18, 202010:20 am

The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here:

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/18/news/nation/trump-us-canada-to-close-border-to-nonessential-travel/


Christopher Burns
March 18, 202010:16 am

Some inmates, including President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, at prisons across the U.S. are hoping the coronavirus can become a “get out of jail” free card.

“While widespread outbreaks of coronavirus behind bars have yet to happen, the frenzy of legal activity underscores a crude reality that’s only beginning to sink in: America’s nearly 7,000 jails, prisons and correctional facilities are an ideal breeding ground for the virus, as dangerous as nursing homes and cruise ships but far less sanitary,” the Associated Press reports.

In Maine, steps are already being taken to minimize the risk of the virus spreading behind bars, with state courts seeing newly arrested people every day and the court system vacating more than 12,000 warrants for unpaid fines and fees.

Read the full story here:

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/18/news/nation/inmates-fearful-of-the-coronavirus-argue-for-release/


Christopher Burns
March 18, 202010:13 am

New Hampshire police charged David Ladeau, 65, with creating a false public alarm and disorderly conduct after he allegedly told bus riders he “was infected with coronavirus.”

https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/18/news/new-england/vermont-man-charged-after-he-claimed-to-have-coronavirus-on-a-bus/


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:08 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.”


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

On Tuesday, the city of Bangor canceled the upcoming Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, a first in the race’s 54-year history.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.


Lindsay Putnam
March 18, 202010:07 am

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.


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