Today is Thursday. There have now been 2,137 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.
Two more Mainers — a woman in her 70s and a man in his 80s, both from Cumberland County — have died from coronavirus complications, bringing the statewide death toll to 81.
So far, 260 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while 1,357 people have fully recovered from the virus, meaning there are 699 active and likely cases in the state as of Wednesday, according to the Maine CDC. That’s down from 712 on Tuesday.
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.
— “The state will release more detailed data on where the coronavirus is, but it has not settled on how it will break down the data and will release it at a higher case threshold than other New England states, Maine’s top public health official said Wednesday. Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah said the virus has reached enough density in the state that releasing information on the city, town or zip code level could be done without compromising the privacy of people who have contracted the virus.” — Caitlin Andrews, BDN
— “At least four workers at a Lewiston group home have tested positive for the coronavirus, making it the latest of Maine’s congregate living facilities to have a confirmed outbreak of the infection, according to state officials. The new outbreak was discovered at a facility run by Ubuntu Care, a Portland-based company that offers residential care in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties.” — Charles Eichacker, BDN
— “Maine sheriffs are seeking a return to normal operations by transferring certain jail inmates back to state custody, but they are facing resistance from Gov. Janet Mills and are worried about testing capacity and supplies of protective gear. Jails and prisons have seen some of the biggest outbreaks in the country due to their close living quarters. In Maine, they have remained relatively unscathed so far, but jail populations are starting to swell as arrests have begun to increase with court activity resuming.” — Caitlin Andrews, BDN
— “Citing increased hospitalizations for the new coronavirus, Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday delayed the reopening of restaurants in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties beyond June 1, saying she would revisit the openings later. Those three counties have the highest numbers of coronavirus cases. They may now offer outside dining service beginning June 1, but not dine-in eating.” — Lori Valigra, BDN
— “Gov. Janet Mills delayed reopenings of indoor dining in three of Maine’s most populous counties on Wednesday, but another official softened the news with details of how those restaurants can expand outdoor seating by using tents or spaces only accessible through the restaurant. … Commissioner Heather Johnson of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development told business leaders in an online meeting on Wednesday how restaurants could expand current takeout or delivery service with outdoor additions.” — Lori Valigra, BDN
— “A proposal made this week by Bangor officials to close several downtown streets and parking spaces to let restaurateurs and retailers operate there more safely during the pandemic was met with sharp criticism by many downtown businesses. The measure, which will allow businesses in downtown Bangor to utilize more public space for outdoor dining and retail, included a proposal to shut down part or all of three streets for the entire summer, beginning in June.” — Emily Burnham, BDN
— “Scammers who targeted Maine’s overwhelmed unemployment system may have filed thousands of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims worth millions of dollars, officials said Wednesday. Unemployment claims made by people impersonating others have increased across the country during the coronavirus pandemic that has stressed state systems for processing benefits. The state announced steps on Tuesday to combat fraud that will result in slower processing times.” — Caitlin Andrews, BDN
— “Aid to state and local governments and the U.S. Postal Services are among the issues that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins is working on in negotiations on the next federal coronavirus aid package, she told reporters on Wednesday. Both issues have drawn attention from all other members of Maine’s congressional delegation, as well as some of Collins’ opponents in the 2020 U.S. Senate race, but Congress failed to reach an agreement on either before breaking for Memorial Day at the end of last week.” — Jessica Piper, BDN
— As of early Thursday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,699,933 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 100,442 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 6,547 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 3,803 in Connecticut, 655 in Rhode Island, 223 in New Hampshire and 54 in Vermont.