Daily Catch

‘Uncertainty may be the new norm’ in Maine as confirmed cases of coronavirus jumps to 303

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The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maine has jumped to 303 according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who provided another daily press update today at 11:30 a.m. In addition, two more individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19 passed away overnight.

Both were women in their 80s, one from York County and the other from Kennebec County, and were hospitalized at the time of their deaths. Five Mainers have now passed away as a result of COVID-19.

As of this morning, confirmed coronavirus cases jumped by 28 to 303 total cases. There are now three more counties in Maine (Androscoggin, Kennebec and Penobscot) that have recorded more than 10 confirmed cases of the virus.

Having more than 10 confirmed cases is one of the two criteria the Maine CDC uses to investigate the possibility of community transmission. The other is whether 25 percent of cases in any county do not have a link to another known case.  The Maine CDC continues to investigate the cases in these counties to determine if community transmission is occurring.

A shipment of personal protective equipment was recently distributed to fire departments, emergency personnel and regional hospitals with the intent of “equipping the least equipped,” according to Dr. Shah. He also reported there are 90 available beds in intensive care units statewide, as well as 262 ventilators and 89 alternative ventilators.

Dr. Shah confirmed that there are two additional pediatric patients that have tested positive for COVID-19. Neither patient is school-aged. Maine CDC has also learned of an individual who contracted COVID-19 and had spent time at the Oxford Street shelter in Portland, opening the door for spread of the virus in a congregate setting.

Cases in congregate settings remain a high priority for Maine CDC. The state has recorded 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in congregate settings. The 12 previous cases were reported during Monday’s briefing, with the last being the confirmed case of the individual who spent time at the Oxford Street shelter.

Dr. Shah was pressed by the Maine media on whether the Maine CDC and Governor Janet Mills have a plan to extend the closure of nonessential businesses, which is set to expire on April 8. He said no final decision has been made yet and all options remain on the table.

In closing his comments at Tuesday’s press conference, Dr. Shah said that “uncertainty may be the new norm” moving forward and called on Mainers to do things that help them settle, like calling their parents or touching base with neighbors.

“Look around to see what you can do to settle certain parts of your life that may feel unsettled right now. We, each of us, have a role to play.”

The Bangor Daily News reported Tuesday that more than 800 individuals have signed up to become health care volunteers through MaineResponds.org to combat the spread of COVID-19 in Maine.

About Jacob Posik

Jacob Posik, of Turner, is the director of communications at Maine Policy Institute and the editor of The Maine Wire. He formerly served as a policy analyst at Maine Policy. Posik can be reached at jposik@mainepolicy.org.

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