Daily Catch

Four new deaths, 770 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide

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The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting Wednesday an additional 4 deaths in Maine due to the coronavirus and 770 confirmed cases statewide. The virus has claimed the lives of 24 Mainers since the Maine CDC was activated to combat it and the 770 confirmed cases represent an increase of 36 cases since Tuesday’s update.

According to Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah, three males and a female passed away overnight, including two men and one woman in their 70s from Cumberland County, and a man in his 80s from Androscoggin County.

Shah said Wednesday that 126 Mainers have been hospitalized at some time during their COVID-19 illness, an increase of two since Tuesday, and 48 individuals are actively hospitalized. Among them, 26 are receiving care in regular hospital beds and 22 are being treated in intensive care units.

While 24 individuals have passed away, 305 have recovered from their illness and more than 14,000 negative tests have been produced to date. However, 166 of the 770 total confirmed cases belong to health care workers, or approximately 21 percent of the confirmed infections.

The Maine CDC also provided an update Wednesday on the status of three known outbreaks at long-term care facilities across the state, as well as a new outbreak at The Cedars retirement community in Portland.

At the Maine Veterans’ Home, 38 people, including staff and residents, have tested positive for COVID-19, the same number reported Tuesday. Two of the state’s 24 coronavirus deaths are associated with this facility. In addition, 69 individuals have tested positive at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation and the facility is also tied to two deaths from the virus. At the Tall Pines facility in Belfast, 25 people have tested positive among staff and residents, an increase of one case since the Maine CDC’s last report.

The Maine CDC is also aware of five confirmed cases at The Cedars community in Portland. Three of the infections were contracted by residents and two by staff.

Yesterday the Maine CDC pulled, packed and shipped 30 orders of personal protective equipment (PPE) statewide amounting to roughly 18,000 total pieces of PPE. The agency has filled 923 PPE orders to date and announced Monday it received 140,000 N95 masks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that are being added to the state’s inventory.

Approximately 147 of the state’s 314 beds in intensive care units are available as well as 304 of the state’s 344 total ventilators. There are also 240 alternative ventilators available statewide, and Dr. Shah noted that, moving forward, the Maine CDC will report the total number of ventilators and alternative ventilators as one figure.

Dr. Shah was joined by Governor Janet Mills at Wednesday’s press briefing, who expressed her relief at the news that there were no serious injuries at the Androscoggin Mill in Jay after earlier reports of a large explosion. All employees and contractors had been accounted for at the facility, she said.

“If ever there’s a day where we should believe in miracles, today is it,” Governor Mills said.

She also lightly signaled concerns over the state budget, stating her and other governors will participate in a phone call tomorrow with President Trump to discuss the need for the federal aid from the CARES Act to be distributed to the states, and her hope that Congress will enable treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin to loosen spending restrictions on the federal aid so it can be used to stabilize state budgets.

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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