Today is Monday. There have now been 1,436 confirmed and likely cases of the new coronavirus detected in all of Maine’s counties since the outbreak began in March, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials reported another 28 cases on Sunday, while no new deaths were reported, leaving the statewide death toll at 64.
So far, 199 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while another 861 people have fully recovered from the coronavirus, meaning there are 511 active and likely cases in the state. That’s up from 487 on Saturday.
“Community transmission,” so far, has only been detected in four counties: Androscoggin, Cumberland, Penobscot and York.
Here’s a roundup of the latest news about 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.
— Legal experts anticipate a raft of lawsuits out of the coronavirus pandemic as businesses reopen and figure out a new normal, complete with detailed state-issued checklists of what and what not to do. The emerging fear among businesses is that personal injury lawyers could seize on the virus to capitalize for clients. They could include anything from claims by employees or customers that they caught the virus in a reopened business to what Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business’ Small Business Legal Center, calls “bottom feeders” who measure distances between restaurant tables to see if they are the required 6 feet apart. ( Here are tips from Doug Currier, chair of Verrill Dana’s employment and labor group, to businesses on how to protect themselves from a potential coronavirus-related lawsuit after they reopen.)
— In a public health crisis, many restaurant owners are not seeking a path back to normalcy, but they are forging ways to evolve that may bring lasting change. They are wary of a spike of disease. They also fear that missing a vital summer season will destroy their livelihoods.
— The past two months have meant near-constant work for the staff of Maine’s state laboratory who are testing specimens for the coronavirus. But while the short term may be stressful for the lab’s staff, the coming months are likely to mark a turning point for the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta, which has traditionally operated more behind the scenes in advancing understanding of public health threats. That’s because it’s getting new staff, new equipment, a new building and renewed recognition of its central role in responding to outbreaks, after three decades that saw staff cuts, attempts at privatization and a deteriorating building and equipment.
— Members of Calvary Chapel huddled Sunday morning between the church and the children’s building. Families in winter coats and hats with blankets on their laps looked more dressed for a football game than worship Mother’s Day with the temperature in the 40s. “It is a spiritual necessity, whether our governor thinks so or not,” pastor Ken Graves told the 75 or members of his flock who attended the 11 a.m. service. “It’s a spiritual necessity for us to come together and it is the freedom to do that and the right to do that we stand — that we sit — for here today.” Technically, Graves and worshippers at the outdoor Sunday services were violating an order banning gatherings of more than 10 people.
— As most Maine high schoolers are settling into a largely unfamiliar remote learning routine this spring, junior Lance Kelley’s school day has not changed since the coronavirus pandemic began. The Maine Virtual Academy student still starts school with a morning assembly, attends his classes in live virtual classrooms and moderates his school’s gaming club every week. The only difference is, he can’t leave his Holden residence to see his friends under the state’s stay-at-home order.
— It’s become a familiar sight in The County — Pineland Farms Potato Co. distributing hundreds of boxes of food to people who are struggling under the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus. The company has handed out 9,500 boxes and about 300,000 pounds of food across Aroostook County.
— Some of Republican President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers emphasized on Sunday the importance of states getting more businesses and offices open. The president and governors who will decide when to reopen their states are facing competing pressures. Decisions about how fast to reopen come with a general election less than six months away, and Trump and other incumbents facing the prospects of seeking another term in the midst of a public health and economic crisis.
— Three members of the White House coronavirus task force have placed themselves in quarantine after contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. Quarantining are Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leading member of the task force; Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
— As of early Monday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,329,799 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 79,528 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 4,979 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 2,967 in Connecticut, 422 in Rhode Island, 133 in New Hampshire and 53 in Vermont.