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.
Bowdoin on Friday announced three of its students had, over spring break, come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. They have not returned to Brunswick or the Bowdoin campus and are self-isolating out-of-state.
From Pence office: "“This evening we were notified that a member of the Office of the Vice President tested positive for the Coronavirus. Neither President Trump nor Vice President Pence had close contact with the individual.”
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) March 20, 2020
Before the novel coronavirus pandemic began, not many people in the state had heard of American Sign Language interpreter and University of Southern Maine professor Dr. Regan Thibodeau.
But after daily press conferences during which Thibodeau, who is deaf herself, translates what Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah is saying about coronavirus for the state’s deaf community, she is no longer little known.
Read our full profile of Thibodeau here:
4 individuals remain hospitalized.
There are approximately 135 intensive care beds in total.
Right now, 56 of them are available.
There are about 291 ventilators in total.
About 218 of them are available.
“The Maine CDC operates a platform that all hospitals report into. We ask those health care institutions to report to us twice a day what the total number and occupied number of these health resources are. It’s like an air traffic controller looking in the air to see which ones might be coming. Similar, it can change minute by minute by minute. These numbers are as of 9:45 a.m. this morning. They do not yet represent every single health care institution across the state, but do represent the majority. We are working with the remaining ones on an individual basis. “
“This protective equipment is worn by health care workers and first responders in the field. They are the true backbone of the health care system across the state. Nationwide and across Maine there have been concerns about availability of that equipment. We have 3 sources for such equipment: Our own stock, a stock we order, a stock we receive from the strategic national stockpile. Mills has spent a letter to Pence asking them to accelerate the distribution of this lifesaving equipment to the state of Maine. Today, however, Maine CDC working with DOT will be making the following distributions to health care institutions across the state: 4,000 gloves, close to 700 face shields, 2,695 masks, over 1,100 suits, almost 900 gowns, and 600 shoe covers. Those are the distributions going out today. We emphasize the need for the federal strategic national stockpile to accelerate the distribution of that equipment so our health care workers and first responders can be maximally covered,” Shah says.
Total number of negative tests for all laboratories across the state is 2,264
Yesterday there was a case in Hancock County. We actually learned that that individual, though they may have been diagnosed by a provider in Hancock County, they are actually a resident of Penobscot County.
County by county breakdown:
Androscoggin: Total of 3 cases
Cumberland: Total of 35
Kennebec: Total of 4
Lincoln: Total of 4
Oxford: Total of 1
Penobscot: Total of 2
York: Total of 5
And 2 counties are still under investigation
One of the cases is the result of a clerical error that tested positive at another laboratory but upon retesting at our laboratory tested negative.
“What happened to those 4 cases? The way we do public health investigations means that was we launch our investigations we learn that certain individuals are out of state residents who may have been temporarily in Maine. So of those 4 cases, 3 are actually out of state residents. Some of them actually are still in Maine and we are working with them. Some have returned to their home state. This is just a bookkeeping change. It’s done to avoid states counting the same cases twice. What we do is transfer via official notification that case to another health department,” Shah says.
Yesterday, the number we discussed was 52. But today’s number actually represents an increase in 8 news cases, Shah says.
The total case count of COVID-19 cases in Maine stands at 56
“This is, in the simplest terms, an act of good citizenship, and I thank all Maine people for doing so.”
“For quite some time now, my colleagues and I have been talking about the need to engage in things like social distancing. What I’d like to start with today is by acknowledging that many Maine people have already undertaken these measures,” Nirav Shah says.
We will be switching the featured video on this live blog to the Maine CDC press conference momentarily. You can continue to watch the White House press briefing in the video below.
The Amtrak Downeaster will continue to operate on a modified schedule. The situation is evolving, but currently the following service plan is in place:
Friday, March 20
Southbound trains 680, 682 and 686 WILL OPERATE.
Northbound trains 681, 685 and 687 WILL OPERATE.
All other Downeaster trains will be suspended.
Saturday, March 21 & Sunday March 22
Southbound trains 692 and 694 WILL OPERATE.
Northbound trains 693 and 695 WILL OPERATE.
All other Downeaster trains will be suspended.
Monday, March 23 through March 27
Southbound trains 680 and 682 WILL OPERATE.
Northbound trains 681 and 685 WILL OPERATE.
All other Downeaster trains will be suspended.
Some station buildings (including Brunswick, Freeport, Saco, and Wells) may be closed to the public but Downeaster trains WILL continue to stop at the platform. Please make your reservations ahead of time online at Amtrak.com or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL.
A look at the worldwide scope of the virus today: Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 passed 10,000 and infections exceeded 244,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Italy, with 60 million citizens, has recorded 3,405 deaths, exceeding the 3,248 in China, a country with a population more than 20 times larger.
In case you missed it: California’s 40 million residents should stay home indefinitely and venture outside only for essential jobs, errands and some exercise, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.
The North Haven Select Board has voted to rescind the outright ban, however officials are “strongly encouraging people to remain where they are,” according to North Haven Town Administrator Rick Lattimer.
Read the story here:
Maine’s elver fishing season, which was slated to start Sunday, will be postponed for at least two weeks in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus among fishermen, Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said Friday.
Fishermen had already been worrying that depressed demand for the baby eels in Asia would lead to lower prices for their catch. Most elvers caught in Maine are shipped live to China — the heart of the coronavirus outbreak — where they are grown to market size before they’re shipped to Japan to supply that country’s consumer seafood market.
Maine fisheries officials will reassess the delay in the elver season after two weeks and decide whether fishing can begin at that time, Keliher said.
With the season scheduled as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in the state, Keliher said, “it has become clear that the typical crowded conditions both on the rivers and in the shops could not only allow transmission, but also speed the spread of the disease throughout the state as fishermen traveled along the coast to harvest and sell elvers, and then return to their homes.”
Schools in Lewiston are extending their closure for more than a month. Tentatively, students in Maine’s second largest city will return to school on April 27, according to Superintendent Todd Finn.
Schools in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties also announced Friday that they would tentatively extend their closures to the same date.
Hannaford Supermarkets say they will be dedicating special shopping hours for customers over 60 and those with compromised immune systems.
Starting March 24. stores will open early from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Additionally, Hannaford is shortening its general operating hours starting March 21.
The new hours will be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont has postponed the state’s presidential primary until June due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Associated Press reports that the move makes it mathematically impossible for Joe Biden to clinch the Democratic nomination before May.
Read the full story here:
A member of Colby College’s athletics department has tested positive for the new coronavirus, administrators said Thursday. That is among three cases health officials have confirmed in Kennebec County.
Read the full story here:
A member of the Bates College community tested positive. Bates President Clayton Spencer did not clarify if it was a student, staff or faculty member. The individual is isolated at home.
A Portland police officer has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Portland Police Department. The officer is currently quarantined outside of the state.
Vermont on Thursday recorded its first two deaths from the coronavirus. More than 20 people have tested positive for the contagion there.
The Celtics’ Marcus Smart is among those who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Smart said Thursday he has not yet showed symptoms.
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 Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits surged last week by 70,000.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
— 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.
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.