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There are now 827 coronavirus cases spread across 15 of Maine’s counties, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah. That’s up from 796 on Thursday.
Another two Mainers have died, bringing the statewide death toll up to 29.
So far, 133 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Of those, 55 people are currently in the hospital, with 28 in critical condition and eight on ventilators, Shah said.
The Maine CDC reports that 352 people have fully recovered from the coronavirus, meaning there are 475 active cases in the state at this time.
Piscataquis remains the only county in the state without a confirmed case of the virus.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— Gov. Janet Mills said on Friday that her administration was devising a plan to gradually reopen Maine’s economy, though she reiterated that stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus in Maine was the key to allowing business activities to resume.
— U.S. Sen. Angus King blasted the federal government’s coronavirus testing efforts in a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence on Friday, according to Washington reporters. King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, had a series of testy exchanges with Pence during the discussion held by Pence with Senate Democrats regarding the federal government’s COVID-19 test-expansion efforts that culminated with King calling the federal effort “a dereliction of duty,” according to reporters.
— A patient of a Brewer rehabilitation facility has tested positive for the coronavirus, but no other cases have been detected there, a state health official said. The single case was reported at the Brewer Center for Health and Rehabilitation, which offers short-term rehabilitative care services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy, according to its website. The news comes as state officials are on high alert about the threat the virus poses to nursing homes, group homes and other congregate care settings where it can quickly circulate through clusters of people.
—Families of residents at Tall Pines, a retirement community that is one of the centers of the coronavirus outbreak in Maine, are unable to visit sick or at-risk family members. They find themselves in a pattern of waiting and worrying, unsure when or if they’ll see their loved ones again.
—Portland city officials reversed an interpretation of an emergency order saying non-essential businesses were prohibited from shipping products and allowing no-contact delivery on Friday after receiving a wave of pushback from business owners. Small-business owners said the measures as originally interpreted by the city were more strict than anywhere else in the country and effectively gave a boost to chains and corporations.
— Jack Allard, a former lacrosse star and graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, who spent more than three weeks in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator in two different hospital intensive care units, has been released. Allard’s battle against COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, came to light after his mother complained about the family’s inability to put him on a regimen of the experimental drug Remdesivir, which is believed to have benefits for COVID-19 patients.
—Maine’s jobless rate in March remained below 4 percent, extending a streak of low rates that has lasted more than four years but is likely to end in April when the economic effect of the coronavirus is reflected. A three-week spike in new unemployment insurance claims followed the state’s closure on March 24. But the rising numbers took a breather from April 5 to April 11, when 13,421 people submitted claims, down sharply from the 30,900 the week before, according to state data released Thursday.
—Officially, bottle redemption centers, as with other trash collection services, are classified as essential businesses to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic in Maine. But operating them while protecting the health and safety of employees from the virus is another matter. While customers can be protected by doing drop-offs of their empty cans and bottles, employees of the centers must still manage the merchandise, which may have remnants of the virus on them.
—China acknowledged Friday that the coronavirus death toll in the one-time epicenter city of Wuhan was nearly 50 percent higher than reported, underscoring just how seriously the official numbers of infections and deaths around the world may be understating the dimensions of the disaster.
—As of early Friday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 686,991 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 32,232 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
—Elsewhere in New England, there have been 1,404 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 1,036 in Connecticut, 118 in Rhode Island, 35 in Vermont and 37 in New Hampshire.
Watch: Maine CDC press conference, April 17