Update: For the latest information, visit our March 20 live blog.
As of Thursday morning, there are 52 confirmed and likely cases of the new coronavirus across the state, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
That includes the first case detected in Hancock County, which brings the total number of Maine counties where the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been found to eight. The Maine CDC said Thursday that two additional cases have been detected in a Falmouth retirement community. An adult who tested positive for the coronavirus came in contact with Eight Corners Elementary School in Saco, though the superintendent said the contact was restricted to one classroom.
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus and its impact on Maine.
— Spring has officially begun, but Mainers might notice an earlier-than-expected influx of summer residents. Seasonal residents who typically might not be expected until Memorial Day have been showing up in the Pine Tree State to get distance from the coronavirus, which has hit many other states harder than Maine so far. Still, there are “snowbirds,” as the BDN reported earlier this week, who fear the spreading contagion might delay their return home.
— Summer won’t be far behind spring, but vacations abroad might not be on the docket this year. The U.S. State Department has advised all U.S. citizens to refrain from overseas travel and that those who are abroad return home soon or else be prepared to remain there for an “an indefinite period.” At least two Mainers, 51-year-old Michelle Kribel of Windham and her daughter Katelyn, are among more than 1,000 stranded in Peru, where the country’s president has declared a state of emergency and put the nation into a 15-day quarantine.
— The Bangor City Council voted on Thursday afternoon to extend the city’s temporary restrictions on businesses that were part of an emergency order by City Manager Cathy Conlow meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Those restrictions were also expanded to apply to certain types of businesses that were not included in a separate statewide order from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, such as movie theaters, casinos, dance clubs or yoga studios.
— Top Maine Democrats are calling for the Trump administration to extend shipbuilding deadlines for Bath Iron Works, saying it is no longer safe for the shipyard to maintain normal operations during the coronavirus outbreak. The federal government considers the Bath shipyard, which employs 6,800 in all 16 of Maine’s counties, “critical infrastructure” that must continue to operate normally during the outbreak. But the Democrats, who sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation Wednesday, worry that increases the risk of an outbreak at the shipyard that “could not only jeopardize the health of the individuals, but also the ability for that facility to continue operations.”
— Those in recovery from substance use disorder are going online to hold meetings normally held in the churches, community centers and other public buildings in Maine that are now closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even sober living houses, which often require that residents attend Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, are holding meetings in-house rather than send residents out into the community and risk spreading the virus.
— Maine priests are offering drive-thru confessions in Portland, as well as Falmouth, Yarmouth and other communities in the state. Several Maine parishes will also live-stream Mass and offer online prayer gatherings to discourage parishioners from gathering in large groups.
— President Donald Trump on Thursday proposed the federal government make an extraordinary reach into the private sector by taking an equity stake in companies that receive assistance during the coronavirus outbreak. That comes as Trump has signed into law a package meant to combat the virus’ spread, and Congress considers other proposals to shore up the economy during the crisis, including cutting checks directly to every American.
— The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged last week by 70,000.
— 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.
— The Celtics’ Marcus Smart is among those who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Smart said Thursday he has not yet showed symptoms.
— Vermont on Thursday recorded its first two deaths from the coronavirus. More than 20 people have tested positive for the contagion there.