June 01, 2020
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April 5 morning update: The latest on the coronavirus and Maine

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Signs in a bookstore window in Brunswick encourage residents to stay home Thursday, the first day of Maine's mandatory stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Janet Mills to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A rain storm helped to discourage people from venturing outdoors.

As of Saturday, there are now 456 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus spread across 15 Maine counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The death toll in the state has risen to 10, with an additional death from York County confirmed on Saturday. Another 83 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while 140 people have fully recovered from it.

Only one county — Piscataquis — has yet to record a confirmed case of the virus.

With the number of cases rising rapidly in the state, here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.

— Republican President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for Maine, which will unlock new federal funds for the state’s fight against the coronavirus. The approval, for instance, means state agencies, cities and towns will be reimbursed for 75 percent of approved costs from their response to the outbreak. That comes as Trump on Saturday warned that the nation could soon be facing the “toughest” weeks in the outbreak, even as he again floated the idea of reopening the country.

— A new order is directing all people arriving in Maine from out of state to quarantine themselves for two weeks. That is the latest move from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to boost the state’s effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus after issuing a stay-at-home order for the whole state.

— Houlton Regional Hospital and Cary Medical Center in Caribou are cutting pay for hospital staff as both wrestle with a sharp drop in revenue and an expected rise in coronavirus patients. Even as hospitals scrounge for professionals from the industry to treat the burgeoning numbers of people with the coronavirus, tens of thousands are on the sidelines as elective procedures, diagnostics and appointments are canceled or postponed.

— Nicole Boivin of Berwick has always been a healthy person, and she has taken extra care to keep a safe distance from other people and wash her hands since the pandemic began. Despite all that, she got it — and it was bad. “I have just come out of the darkness of this thing after 12 days of the worst illness I have ever experienced in my life and hope to never experience again,” she said.

— The coronavirus isn’t the first time a pandemic has hit Maine. Before the coronavirus, there was the 1918 flu outbreak. The death toll started on a Monday — Sept. 23, 1918, to be exact. William Lawry, a 36-year-old Augusta resident, had fallen ill while visiting Camp Devens, an army facility in Massachusetts that had been stricken by influenza, and had returned home a few days earlier to recuperate. It was too late, though. Lawry became the first Mainer to die from what became known as the Spanish flu, an H1N1 strain of influenza that was unusually virulent and deadly, but the flu had likely been in Maine for at least a week. Over the next eight months, more than 5,000 Maine residents would die during the worst pandemic in modern history — half of them in October 1918 alone.

— As of Saturday, the coronavirus has sickened 277,205 people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as caused 6,593 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 216 deaths in Massachusetts, 165 in Connecticut, 17 in Vermont, 15 in Rhode Island and five in New Hampshire.

 


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