Today is Friday. There have now been 937 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in all of Maine’s counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Thursday was the single deadliest day so far in the outbreak, with five more confirmed deaths that all involved elderly men from a veterans home in Cumberland County. The statewide death toll now stands at 44.
So far, 150 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while another 485 people have fully recovered from it, meaning there are 408 active cases in the state. That’s down from 413 active cases the day before.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— The Maine CDC will provide an update on the coronavirus at 2 p.m. The BDN will livestream the briefing.
— A 7-year-old girl from Warren is proving you’re never too young to start giving back to your local community — especially in times of crisis. Over the past week, Alexandrea Fullerton has been raising money for Pen Bay Medical Center and the Warren Food Pantry by selling her toys. She has raised $60 so far, which she will split evenly between the hospital and the food pantry. She plans to sell more of her toys and split the proceeds between the organizations.
— Maine still has not expanded unemployment insurance to self-employed workers and independent contractors even as more than half of states are taking applications and a few are giving benefits to those newly eligible workers. Assistance for self-employed workers who are out of work due to the coronavirus was part of a $2.2 trillion federal stimulus bill that passed in late March. The federal government issued guidance for the program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, on April 5.
— Mainers submitted 11,561 new jobless claims to the state for the week of April 12 to 18, according to the Maine Department of Labor. That marks the second straight decline in weekly jobless claims, falling from a peak of 30,899 for the week of March 29 to April 4. Still, the latest jobless claims are more than double the state’s previous record of 5,634 set in January 2009 during the Great Recession.
— Maine will take a gradual approach to lifting restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but things “will not return to normal soon,” Gov. Janet Mills said Thursday. The Democratic governor released a four-point list of principles that will guide the state in a restart: protecting public health, maintaining health care readiness, building reliable and accessible testing and prioritizing public-private collaboration.
— Mills also said Thursday that remote briefings administration officials held for lawmakers on the coronavirus didn’t violate the state’s open meetings law — even though most were open to the entire Legislature, no public notice was given and the public had no way of participating. Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah held four remote meetings each between March 20 and April 10 that were open to the full Legislature after lawmakers adjourned last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.
— The coronavirus pandemic has put a lot of stress on college students. In just a few weeks, many have had to pack their bags and leave campus, then transition to new, online classes. And for those set to graduate this spring, the economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic has many on edge and some rethinking their plans after graduation.
— Congress delivered a nearly $500 billion infusion of coronavirus spending Thursday, rushing new relief to employers and hospitals buckling under the strain of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 American lives and one in six U.S. jobs. The measure passed almost unanimously, but the lopsided tally belies a potentially bumpier path ahead as battle lines are being formed for much more ambitious future legislation that may prove far more difficult to maneuver through Congress.
— As of early Friday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 869,172 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 49,963 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 2,360 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 1,639 in Connecticut, 189 in Rhode Island, 51 in New Hampshire and 43 in Vermont.
Watch: Nirav Shah talks about the impact of coronavirus on rural Maine