Update: There are now 537 confirmed coronavirus cases and 14 deaths in Maine. Read the latest story here.
As of Tuesday, there are now 519 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus spread across 15 of Maine’s counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of those, 99 Maine residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while 176 people have fully recovered from it.
Another two people have died from the coronavirus, bringing the statewide death toll to 12.
The only county without any confirmed cases is Piscataquis.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— Relief for Mainers who have found themselves out of work due to the pandemic may be a little slow coming. Maine’s labor commissioner, Laura Fortman, said the unprecedented crush of jobless claims has crashed the system designed to make payments on the first of the week. The system has since been upgraded, but delays may still result.
— Democratic Gov. Janet Mills is considering a new executive order to shield some Mainers affected by the coronavirus from eviction. Mills addressed the issue during a Tuesday press briefing, and it comes after a number of Portland businesses sent a letter to the city asking for rent relief. That order could shield both apartment dwellers and businesses from eviction, according to Mills.
— A $350 billion loan program to help small businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic might provide less relief than initially believed. Up to 75 percent of the loan and any accrued interest can be forgiven for payroll costs. However, the amount forgiven depends on how many employees the business has in the eight weeks after it receives the loan, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Some businesses fear they won’t be able to ramp up to full employment within that deadline once the coronavirus crisis passes.
— The Bangor School Department has turned to fundraising to provide 350 local families with internet access so those students can participate in online learning activities while school buildings are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school department has enough older laptops to provide to students who don’t have their own, but internet access is the limiting factor. That comes as Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin on Tuesday urged teachers across the state to prepare to conduct the rest of the school year remotely.
— With his facility idle in the midst of the statewide lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Shawn Laatsch, director of the Jordan Planetarium at the Emera Astronomy Center at the University of Maine in Orono, was looking for some way to put it to good use. Given the huge computing power required to operate the planetarium’s state-of-the-art visualizations of the universe — and of microscopic- and molecular-level structures — it only made sense to offer up its technological resources to the scientific community.
— Like many other venues of its kind, the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft is closed these days. But some theater officials are still at work. Instead of showing movies and hosting live events, they hope to collaborate with the local performing arts community in a unique effort to boost residents’ spirits while still generating income to help support the nonprofit enterprise. The theater has launched a campaign, “Keeping in Touch,” in which it will organize videos to be sent out online as well as rent its marquee to community members to deliver more public messages to family and friends.
— The city of Bangor has issued rules that restrict to 10 the number of people allowed on a city bus at any given time. That’s the latest move from the city to halt the virus’ spread and enforce social distancing guidelines public health officials say are necessary.
— Republican President Donald Trump has removed the inspector general tapped to chair a special oversight board of the $2.2 trillion economic package intended to help businesses and individuals affected by the coronavirus. The move threatens to upend the rigorous oversight that Democrats in Congress demanded for the huge sums of money being pumped into the American economy because of the virus.
— As of Wednesday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 399,929 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 12,911 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 356 deaths from the coronavirus in Massachusetts, 277 in Connecticut, 30 in Rhode Island, 23 in Vermont and 13 in New Hampshire.
— John Prine, known as the “Singing Mailman,” has died from complications related to the coronavirus. He was 73. Prine, who penned such memorable tunes as “Angel from Montgomery,” “Sam Stone” and “Hello in There,” won a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys earlier this year. (If you need a soundtrack, here’s one for you.)