Thirteen new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Maine on Friday, bringing the statewide total to 168.
The latest update on confirmed cases in Maine came the same day that the state reported the death of a man in his 80s in Cumberland County, who previously tested positive for COVID-19. It is the first death in Maine of a person who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Thirty individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Friday press conference with Gov. Janet Mills. Twenty-four Mainers who previously tested positive have recovered and have been released from isolation.
The Maine CDC has fielded more than 3,600 consultation requests from health care workers and physicians across the state, according to Shah. Of those, 3,394 Mainers have tested negative for COVID-19.
“This is a reminder that the numbers I’m about to share with you, cases, hospitalizations, are all really people,” Shah said during Friday’s press conference. “They are our friends, they are our neighbors, they are our parents, spouses, loved ones. In short, they are our community. I ask that we remember that and keep that humanity top of mind every time we think about this outbreak.”
A majority of the cases have been in Maine residents older than 50, while slightly more women than men have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Cumberland County has been hit hardest by the coronavirus, with 92 confirmed cases. York County — which Shah on Thursday said was now experiencing community spread — has 33 confirmed cases.
Other cases have been detected in Androscoggin (6), Franklin (1), Kennebec (6), Knox (2), Lincoln (5), Oxford (8), Penobscot (6), Sagadahoc (4) and Waldo (2) counties. No new counties have experienced confirmed cases.
There are 86 available intensive care unit beds out of a total of about 164. There are also 247 available ventilators out of an approximate 308.
Shah said the state received the second shipment from the strategic national stockpile earlier this week, which contains equipment for health care workers and first responders.
“Right now we are preparing the distribution of that equipment in a fair and equitable manner across the state,” Shah said, before noting that what Maine has so far received is still not enough. Shah said he supports Mills’ call to the federal government to release additional supplies.
“The infections, as we know, will continue to rise in number and geographic distribution,” Shah said. “Having that protective equipment will be critical to ensuring the safety of our frontline workers so that they can continue to test patients who may be suspected of having COVID-19 as well as continue to care for patients who have COVID-19 disease.”
Shah added that since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has liberalized the rules around what types of ventilators can be used for patients with COVID-19, Maine changed its system to better track the availability of such ventilators. In the past day, the number of those ventilators that hospitals reported has increased from 12 to 58.
The Maine CDC also received additional reagents, chemicals used to conduct the test for confirming a COVID-19 diagnosis. The Maine CDC now has a total capacity to provide tests for approximately 3,000 patients, Shah said.
“However, we know that additional cases are coming on the horizon,” Shah said. “So we are continuing with the plans that we’ve talked about here to make sure we have additional support from commercial laboratories and via the acquisition of new pieces of equipment. Our goal is to have, statewide, the most robust testing architecture that we can.”
As of Friday afternoon, the virus has sickened 85,356 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 1,246 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York has been the hardest-hit state, with nearly 39,000 cases and more than 400 deaths.