Today is Wednesday. There have now been 1,477 confirmed and likely cases of the coronavirus across all of Maine’s counties since the outbreak began in March, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
No new deaths were reported on Tuesday, leaving the statewide death toll at 65.
So far, 202 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while 913 people have fully recovered from the coronavirus, meaning there are 499 active and likely cases in the state. That’s down from 525 on Monday.
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.
— A nursing home that saw an early outbreak of the coronavirus was clear of active cases of the virus as of Tuesday, marking what the state’s top public health official called “an epidemiological milestone.” At the start of the month, Tall Pines had 43 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 residents and 11 staff members testing positive. Since then, 13 residents have died and the others have recovered. The last staff member was recently released from isolation. Still, public health officials are encouraging caution.
— A batch of the first drug found to have an effect against the coronavirus is on its way to Maine hospitals. The Maine CDC on Tuesday received and distributed 10 cases of the drug Remdesivir to Maine hospitals. A National Institutes of Health study has found that Remdesivir accelerates the recovery of patients infected with the coronavirus, making it the first treatment available specifically for it.
— In late December, a committee charged with finding ways to reduce the number of unconvicted people held in Maine jails, which had soared since the mid-1990s, published a set of recommendations for the Maine Legislature to review this spring. The report marked at least the fourth time in 15 years that the state had studied the growth of Maine’s jail population without meaningfully reversing the costly trend. Then, in the course of seven weeks, the daily population of Maine’s 15 county jails fell by 40 percent. It wasn’t the Legislature stepping in, but a highly contagious virus that posed a particular threat to congregant living settings such as cramped jails, spurring police to arrest fewer people and criminal justice officials to release more prisoners who didn’t pose a risk to the public.
— Restaurants readying to emerge from Maine’s coronavirus-related economic shutdown are looking for ways to use outdoor seating to make up for limited indoor capacities, though the effects will depend on how flexible municipalities are in allowing them to use public space.
— As many Maine restaurants are facing existential challenges over how to continue operating in the COVID-19 era, national restaurant chain Denny’s has decided to permanently close locations in Ellsworth and Biddeford.
— Maine construction workers were allowed to stay on the job amid coronavirus-related restrictions, but their hours declined by 10 percent toward the end of March as Democratic Gov. Janet Mills issued other limits on business activity. The shorter hours were part of a hard knock on the nation’s construction industry, which lost 13 percent of its workforce between March and April, according to a survey from the Associated General Contractors of America, an industry group, and the technology firm Procore.
— Portland city leaders will weigh a pilot plan to help downtown businesses climb out of the coronavirus hole by creating an open-air market. If Portland adopts the plan, the city will be Maine’s second to look to help retailers ― especially bars and restaurants ― survive the shutdown that came with the pandemic by stopping through-traffic. Rockland City Council members voted unanimously on Monday to turn a portion of their downtown into an open-air market.
— Attendance has rebounded at Bath Iron Works after many workers took weeks off to protect their families from the coronavirus. Attendance at the shipyard had been down 25 percent to 30 percent in recent weeks as workers opted to take leaves of absence during the outbreak. Bath Iron Works has continued to operate since March 12, when the first coronavirus case was detected in Maine.
— With every form of public, in-person entertainment in Maine canceled until at least July, in the ongoing attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the options for having fun outside the home seem pretty slim. But there’s one bright spot that’s reopening beginning this weekend that allows people to stay safe while still having fun: drive-in movie theaters.
— When schools closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus, they rushed to put a new system in place to feed children. They switched within days from serving meals at school to delivering meals to students at their homes, distributing them at designated pickup sites or some combination of both. As food insecurity rises during the pandemic, early data show that Maine schools are more or less keeping up with meal distribution while the buildings are shut down and kids are participating in remote learning at home. Schools served only 3 percent fewer meals to students last month than they did in April 2019, according to the Maine Department of Education, though the number of meals served can vary sharply district to district.
— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, unveiled a more than $3 trillion coronavirus aid package, a sweeping effort with $1 trillion for states and cities, “hazard pay” for essential workers and a new round of cash payments to individuals. The House is expected to vote on the package as soon as Friday. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has said there is no “urgency.” The Senate will wait until after Memorial Day to consider options.
— As of early Wednesday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,369,964 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 82,387 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 5,141 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 3,041 in Connecticut, 444 in Rhode Island, 142 in New Hampshire and 53 in Vermont.