As of Monday morning, 107 Maine residents have caught the new coronavirus, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Only a week earlier, Maine had fewer than 20 confirmed cases, and health officials expect it to continue to spread.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its growing impact in Maine.
— Also on Monday, the Maine CDC said that 12 Maine residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. That’s up from eight the day before and five late last week.
— The virus has now been detected in nine counties, but Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah asked Maine residents to live as though “COVID-19 is already in your community,” noting that the depth and breadth of the outbreak is not yet known.
— The Maine CDC will provide another update at 2 p.m., and the press conference will be livestreamed by the Bangor Daily News.
— A worker at Bath Iron Works has tested positive for the coronavirus. The shipyard said the worker was last at the facility on March 13. That news comes days after a group of 17 Maine Democrats called for the Trump administration to extend shipbuilding deadlines for BIW, saying it is no longer safe for the shipyard to maintain normal operations during the coronavirus outbreak.
— Crafty Mainers all around the state are sewing face masks to help alleviate the national shortage in personal protective gear that is facing medical workers and others who must be out in public. Of course, homemade masks are no replacement for medical-grade equipment. But these Mainers are operating on the assumption that if frontline medical workers and first responders have no masks, a homemade mask is better than nothing.
— The town of York is closing its beaches after the town manager said the weekend saw an “unacceptable” influx of out-of-state day trippers. That’s the latest move being considered by local authorities to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
— Just a few of Maine’s confirmed cases of the coronavirus have so far come from Penobscot County, but that hasn’t stopped Bangor from adopting the strictest measures of any community in the state to prevent the spread of the infection. Over the past week, the Queen City has gone from limiting the hours when bars, restaurants and gathering places could open to mandating the closure of certain types of businesses such as casinos, theaters and yoga studios.
— Still, as new cases continue to climb Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has refrained from ordering Maine residents to shelter in place, a move taken by governors in other states, such as California, and leaders in nations, such as Italy and China. Shah told reporters on Monday that the state has considered such an order. But unlike other states, Maine is less densely populated, making such a move less urgent and meaning the state can continue to rely on recommendations and voluntary compliance.
— It’s too early to tell if the shutdown of many public establishments and the end of large gatherings will lower Maine’s crime rate in the long run. But in the short term, criminal activity appears to be down in parts of the state less than a week after Mills restricted public gatherings and restaurant and bar operations to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
— Negotiations on a nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package bogged down in Congress on Monday, leading to an angry floor speech from Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Collins said negotiations between Republicans and Democrats on her small-business portion of the package had happened in “good faith” and that negotiations could have also continued if Democrats allowed the package to advance on Sunday. “We don’t have another day. We don’t have another hour,” she said. “We don’t have another minute to delay acting.”
— Massachusetts on Monday ramped up its efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker ordering all non-essential businesses to close and the state health department issuing a stay-at-home advisory. Baker stressed that wasn’t a shelter-in-place order, meaning the state is relying on voluntary compliance and for Bay Staters “to use their common sense.” Last week, Baker said he was reluctant to issue a shelter-in-place order for the state.
— As of Monday, the virus had sickened 33,404 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 400 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— Among those who have caught the coronavirus in recent days is disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein, who is incarcerated at a prison outside Buffalo, New York, contracted it just days after he started his 23-year prison sentence.