As of 11 a.m. Friday, March 20, 44 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.
Health officials on Thursday said Maine’s coronavirus case count had risen to 52 as the novel virus continues to spread.
Dr. Nirav Shah said that his agency has confirmed 42 of the cases of COVID-19, while another 10 are presumed to have contracted the coronavirus.
That’s up from 42 overall cases on Wednesday.
Another 2,004 Maine residents have tested negative for the coronavirus, up from 1,670 the day before, according to Shah.
Shah said that four people remain hospitalized due to the coronavirus, while one person, from Androscoggin County, has recovered. Two of the new cases were reported at OceanView in Falmouth, a retirement community, where two cases already have been detected.
Linda Varrell, a spokeswoman for OceanView, said Thursday that the new cases at the community were connected to those reported earlier and the residents had been self-quarantined.
“We have now issued a shelter in place order for all residents until we receive further guidance from the CDC,” Varrell said.
So far, the coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where Shah said there is evidence of “community transmission.” (There have been 25 cases in that county.) There’s no evidence yet of community transmission in the other counties where the coronavirus has been detected, but Shah said his agency does “anticipate community transmission” will eventually appear outside Cumberland County.
The coronavirus also has turned up in Androscoggin (3), Kennebec (3), Lincoln (3), Oxford (1), Penobscot (1) and York (3) counties. There were 12 cases for which the Maine CDC did not immediately have locations for Thursday afternoon.
Shah said that his agency was “sharpening our focus” on at-risk groups — including health care workers; first responders; the hospitalized; anyone living in “congregant settings,” such as those who are homeless; and pregnant women — to ensure they are tested quickly and that results are returned to health care providers.
The coronavirus continues to radically upend life across the state. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to end dine-in service and banned gatherings of more than 10 people to halt the contagion’s spread. Public schools already have suspended classroom instruction and moved to remote learning, while university campuses have been cleared of students. Federal and state health officials continue to recommend that people practice “social distancing,” or increasing physical space from others.
Shah called social distancing the “surest and most efficacious way” to minimize the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. But he cautioned Thursday that Mainers not allow the coronavirus to turn into an “epidemic of loneliness,” urging them to find ways to stay socially engaged — even if remotely.
Citing a recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, Shah noted that nearly a third of patients who have contracted the coronavirus are between ages 20 and 44, adding that young people are “not immune or invincible” to the disease and emphasized the need for social distancing.
“In times like this, I go to one of the luminaries in the public health world — the band Coldplay — and ask myself, and we should all be asking ourselves this: Are we part of the cure or are we going to be part of the disease?” Shah said in an apparent reference to the British rock band’s song “Clocks.” “And in this situation, I ask everyone to be part of the cure by practicing social distancing.”
A Maine CDC spokesman, Robert Long, said in an email that more than 100 people in the state are in quarantine or isolation due to the coronavirus, but that number is extremely fluid.
As of Thursday, the virus has sickened 10,442 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 150 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.