As of noon Sunday, March 22, 89 Maine residents have been confirmed 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.
The new coronavirus continues to spread across the state, with at least 89 reported cases, health officials said Sunday.
That’s up from 70 cases on Saturday, and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported at noon Sunday that the virus has been detected in eight counties.
Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah said Sunday during a conference call with reporters that eight Maine residents have been hospitalized due to the coronavirus, which causes the illness known as COVID-19. Three have recovered from the coronavirus.
Another 2,264 Maine residents have tested negative for the coronavirus, according to the Maine CDC.
A majority of those who have been sickened are over age 50, while slightly more women than men have caught the coronavirus, according to the Maine CDC.
The VA Maine Health Care System said Sunday that two veterans within the system have tested positive for the coronavirus and have been isolated. It added that a VA employee tested positive Friday for the coronavirus and also has been isolated at home. No additional information was released.
The news follows further efforts to halt the virus’ spread, with Democratic Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday banning gatherings of more than 10 people and ordering restaurants and bars to end dine-in service. The city of Bangor on Thursday afternoon extended restrictions under a temporary emergency order establishing an 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. curfew to other businesses, such as gyms and yoga studios, not covered by the governor’s order.
Public schools have closed across the state, with many of them tentatively projecting they will open again on April 27, and university campuses have been cleared of students. Many churches are now holding services and Masses online.
So far, the coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 53 cases have been reported, according to the Maine CDC. That’s up from 35 as the agency reported Friday and up from 41 on Saturday.
Shah has said there is evidence of “community transmission” in Cumberland County, but none yet in other counties where the coronavirus has been detected. Shah has said his agency does “anticipate community transmission” will appear at some point outside Cumberland County.
Other cases have been detected in Androscoggin (3), Kennebec (4), Lincoln (4), Oxford (4), Penobscot (2), Sagadahoc (3) and York (8) counties, according to the Maine CDC. Information about where another eight cases were detected was not immediately available Sunday.
Shah urged Sunday that people not take the Maine CDC’s results too literally, saying that just because his agency has not confirmed a case in a given county does not mean it has yet to spread there.
The Maine CDC on Saturday changed the way it reported coronavirus case counts, eliminating a category called “presumptive positive” for tests conducted by private laboratories, then confirmed by the Maine CDC. Now, because the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confidence in Maine CDC’s ability to confirm positive test results from non-governmental labs, the state agency is reporting all such positive cases as “confirmed,” according to Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long.
As of Friday, the virus had sickened 15,219 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 201 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Watch: Symptoms of the coronavirus disease