Today is Friday. There have now been 1,095 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus across all of Maine’s counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials on Thursday confirmed the death of a woman in her 50s from Cumberland County, bringing the statewide death toll to 53.
So far, 170 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while another 631 people have fully recovered from the coronavirus, meaning there are 411 active cases in the state. That’s up from 389 on Wednesday.
Some coronavirus-related restrictions are being relaxed starting today. Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— The Maine CDC will provide an update on the coronavirus this afternoon. The BDN will livestream the briefing.
— Under a new order from Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, certain businesses, including barber shops, salons and other personal services, will be permitted to reopen Friday, while keeping in place a ban on gathering of 10 or more people and restrictions on lodgings and other industries into the summer. That will start to ease the economic crunch that has left 108,500 Mainers jobless since March 15 and prompted protests calling on the governor to allow businesses to reopen.
— Starting Friday, health care providers can resume routine procedures and appointments that they have had to put on hold as the state has tried to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. Many providers say they will not reopen right away, and some, including dentists, say they still aren’t allowed to provide treatment other than emergency care. Now that primary care practices like Martin’s Point Health Care can open up additional services, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jonathan Harvey said they will be able to chip away at the backlog of patients that has grown over the past several weeks.
— Golf courses are among the businesses that may open on Friday with numerous safety rules in place. One of the guidelines allows golfers to play only at courses located in the county in which they live. However, someone who lives in one county but is a member at a club in another county may play there.
— Maine residents, in line with national trends, mostly supported maintaining current social distancing restrictions moving forward, a new poll found. Ninety-four percent “strongly” or “somewhat” approved of government measures over the next 30 days asking people to stay home, while 88 percent said they supported requiring most businesses to stay closed and 92 percent supported keeping schools closed.
— Some Mainers who have seen their previous unemployment claims denied will automatically get benefits through a new federal effort launching Friday, though workers will initially receive the minimum benefit in an effort to expedite the program. Self-employed workers whose state unemployment claims were denied due to insufficient income will automatically get benefits through the federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said Thursday.
— The Maine CDC is investigating whether the death of a 42-year-old firefighter from Waldo County is connected to the coronavirus. The agency did not give details about the firefighter or the situation on Thursday. But an online fundraiser that was started on Thursday said that the volunteer firefighter, Lt. Harold “Eddie” Moore Jr. of Jackson, died on Tuesday night. Moore’s wife worked as a CNA at The Commons at Tall Pines in Belfast, which has suffered a severe outbreak of the coronavirus.
— While the thought of quarantining inside for weeks on end might seem daunting, it’s relatively easy to commit to when you have a home. But for those who are homeless or lack stable housing, the governor’s order to “shelter in place” during this pandemic is nearly impossible. While the focus of the Knox County Homeless Coalition is to find sustainable long-term housing for those struggling with housing insecurity along the midcoast, the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to act more immediately to provide people with a temporary safe place to isolate. Enter the region’s hotels, motels and motor lodges.
— The federal government is providing $75.5 million to the Guilford medical products company that is expanding production of the testing swabs that are critically needed to detect the coronavirus. Puritan Medical Products plans to add around 140 new workers to boost production of the swabs at a second location in Pittsfield. Puritan is one of two manufacturers in the world of the nasopharyngeal flocked swabs used to test for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.
— As of early Friday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,070,032 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 63,019 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 3,562 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 2,257 in Connecticut, 266 in Rhode Island, 72 in New Hampshire and 49 in Vermont.