Today is Friday. There have now been 2,189 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.
Another three people — two women and a man, all in their 80s — from Cumberland County have died, bringing the statewide death toll to 84.
So far, 264 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while 1,402 people have fully recovered from the virus, meaning there are 703 active and likely cases in the state as of Thursday, according to the Maine CDC. That’s up from 699 on Wednesday.
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.
— “Maine’s credit rating remains unchanged despite the severe coronavirus-related economic shock, a positive sign for the state’s future ability to invest in infrastructure and other projects. Half a dozen states have seen their credit ratings decline since the coronavirus outbreak began, but two firms, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, determined that Maine has a stable outlook, the governor’s office announced Wednesday. A strong credit rating does not mean that Maine will avoid fiscal challenges.” — Jessica Piper, BDN
— “Many members of the Maine Legislature will soon be returning to Augusta for the first time since mid-March as they look to put their stamp on the state’s coronavirus response, but the business of lawmaking is not yet on the schedule. Legislators have been relatively powerless since abruptly adjourning two months ago due to the encroaching coronavirus pandemic after granting sweeping powers to Gov. Janet Mills, who used them along with chief executives in all other states to issue orders that closed businesses and restricted gathering sizes in a bid to stem the spread of the virus.” — Caitlin Andrews, BDN
— “Maine has temporarily closed an emergency operations center in Augusta that has hosted news conferences featuring Gov. Janet Mills after seven employees started showing symptoms of the coronavirus between Wednesday and Thursday, including fever, chills and muscle aches.” — Charles Eichacker, BDN
— “Inmates and staff at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham will be tested again for the coronavirus, the corrections commissioner announced Wednesday. … Randall Liberty, the corrections commissioner, said about 200 people will be tested each day until all inmates, staff and vendors have been retested. He said the results should be returned within 24 to 72 hours.” — Christopher Burns, BDN
— “The numbers are in for Memorial Day weekend, traditionally considered the start of Maine’s summer tourist season, and the returns have hoteliers and other businesses in Bar Harbor fearing that 2020 will be a bust. Local tourist industry officials fear that some won’t be around to reopen in 2021. Shop owners and restaurateurs in Bar Harbor say they had the slowest summertime holiday weekend they can remember.” — Bill Trotter, BDN
— “Acadia National Park will join several coastal state parks when it starts shedding some coronavirus restrictions and opening its Park Loop Road on June 1.” — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
— “In an unprecedented move, the city of Rockland is creating a $200,000 loan program for small businesses using a combination of taxpayer dollars and funds from a downtown tax increment financing account. City councilors waffled on whether this was an appropriate use of taxpayer money, but ultimately decided to move forward with the loan program to help businesses that are struggling after months of closures and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” — Lauren Abbate, BDN
— “About a dozen protesters gathered in Augusta on Thursday to protest Gov. Janet Mills’ decision to delay the reopening of restaurants in Cumberland, York and Androscoggin counties beyond June 1 due to increased hospitalizations from the new coronavirus.” — Nick Sambides Jr., BDN
— “Maine saw a ‘suspicious’ spike in new jobless claims last week as the state grapples with a rise in fraudulent claims amid the employment crisis sparked by the coronavirus. The state received 37,000 new jobless claims for the week of May 17 to May 23, according to new data released by the Maine Department of Labor on Thursday morning. … That sharp spike in claims has stoked suspicions that ‘a significant number of these claims and certifications may be linked to criminal unemployment imposter fraud,’ the Department of Labor said in a Thursday statement.” — Christopher Burns, BDN
— “The overall number of Americans currently drawing jobless benefits dropped for the first time since the crisis began, from 25 million to 21 million. And first-time applications for unemployment benefits have fallen for eight straight weeks, as states gradually let stores, restaurants and other businesses reopen and the auto industry starts up factories again. But the number of U.S. workers filing for unemployment benefits is still extraordinarily high by historical standards, and that suggests businesses are failing or permanently downsizing, not just laying off people until the crisis can pass, economists warn.” — Christopher Rugaber and Dan Sewell, The Associated Press
— “The White House has taken the unusual step of deciding not to release an updated economic forecast as planned this year, a fresh sign of the administration’s anxiety about how the coronavirus has ravaged the nation just months before the election. The decision, which was confirmed Thursday by a senior administration official who was not authorized to publicly comment on the plan, came amid intensifying signals of the pandemic’s grim economic toll.” — Andrew Taylor, Josh Boak and Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
— As of early Friday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,721,926 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 101,621 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 6,640 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 3,826 in Connecticut, 677 in Rhode Island, 232 in New Hampshire and 55 in Vermont.