Today is Wednesday. There have now been 2,109 confirmed and likely cases of the new coronavirus in all of Maine’s counties since the outbreak began here in March, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A resident from Cumberland County has died, health officials confirmed Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 79.
So far, 215 Mainers have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while another 1,318 people have fully recovered from the virus, meaning there are 712 active and likely cases in the state as of Tuesday. That’s up from 706 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.
— “Coronavirus-related hospitalizations in Maine surged over the weekend, with the number of patients hospitalized statewide returning to mid-April levels as the state prepares to continue removing business restrictions in the coming week. The increase was largest in the Portland area, according to Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who said it was fueled by outbreaks at long-term care facilities.” — Jessica Piper, BDN
— “In early May, health care providers in Maine started offering a second kind of coronavirus test that could detect past infections, though they are not being recommended by the state’s top health official for most people due to questions over what the results mean. These antibody tests are used to detect whether a person has had the coronavirus by detecting whether signs of it are in their blood. They differ from viral tests using a nasal swab or saliva samples to detect current cases and are expected to be a key part of the future response to the virus. However, it is unclear what the test results mean.” — Eesha Pendharkar, BDN
— “Maine is planning to gradually increase its contact tracing staff by up to 175 and the launch of a new reporting system to accompany increased testing for the new coronavirus, the Mills administration announced Tuesday. The staffing increase will be made up of 50 volunteers who are expected to be trained starting next week and will work for two months, according to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The remainder would be hired based on how the virus progresses and could equal up to 125 additional tracers.” — Caitlin Andrews, BDN
— “A Portland barbecue restaurant will close for two weeks after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus, it said Tuesday. The worker at Salvage BBQ & Smokehouse, a popular family-style barbecue restaurant on Congress Street, was sent home from their shift early on Saturday after they received a phone call from a friend who informed them that they had been exposed to the virus and should get checked.” — Nick Schroeder, BDN
— “Bath Iron Works was notified Tuesday that a vendor who worked at the facility for several months has tested positive for the coronavirus, it said, the third person associated with the shipyard to do so. The person is in quarantine and receiving medical care, according to a BIW spokesperson. The person was most recently at the shipyard on Friday, and used personal protective equipment while on the job, though the type of equipment was not specified in a shipyard news release.” — Lori Valigra, BDN
— “Downtown Bangor may look dramatically different this summer, as city councilors weigh whether to shut down several streets and allow businesses to offer dining and retail services outdoors.” — Emily Burnham, BDN
— “Maine will put unemployment benefits on pause for two days and slow down processing times to address an apparent uptick in fraudulent applications over the last two months after struggling to process thousands of new unemployment claims related to coronavirus. The slowdown is meant to help the state investigate and prevent “imposter fraud” that has plagued other states overloaded by the pandemic but it’s also likely to exacerbate some of the challenges that have prevented newly unemployed Mainers from accessing relief.” — Charles Eichacker, BDN
— “Southern Maine was most affected by a sharp decline in vehicle travel over a Memorial Day weekend stunted by the coronavirus, though travel within the state increased relative to earlier in the outbreak as rural areas saw traffic return to near pre-pandemic levels. Overall transactions on the Maine Turnpike were down about 45 percent compared to last year, with the York plaza seeing a 52 percent decrease. At the state line in Kittery, there were 60,000 northbound vehicles over the weekend, compared to nearly 127,000 over Memorial Day weekend last year, according to the Maine Department of Transportation.” — Jessica Piper, BDN
— “Delta Air Lines is temporarily suspending flights at Bangor International Airport after the number of passengers flying with the airline drastically declined due to the coronavirus pandemic.” — Rosemary Lausier, BDN
— “U.S. consumer confidence inched up this month, showing signs of stabilizing, but remained near a six-year low in the face of the widespread business shutdowns that have sent the economy into recession.” — Matt Ott, The Associated Press
— “Blood clots that can cause strokes, heart attacks and dangerous blockages in the legs and lungs are increasingly being found in COVID-19 patients, including some children. Even tiny clots that can damage tissue throughout the body have been seen in hospitalized patients and in autopsies, confounding doctors’ understanding of what was once considered mainly a respiratory infection.” — Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
— As of early Wednesday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,681,418 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 98,929 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 6,472 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 3,769 in Connecticut, 634 in Rhode Island, 214 in New Hampshire and 54 in Vermont.