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Governor Mills extends Maine’s civil emergency order to May 15

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Governor Janet Mills announced Tuesday she signed a proclamation extending until May 15 her previous state of civil emergency order which was set to expire Wednesday, April 15. This action does not extend Maine’s active stay at home order, which is set to expire on April 30. However, the extension of the state of emergency gives Governor Mills the authority to also extend the duration of the stay at home order, and to continue issuing other executive orders related to the state’s coronavirus response until the emergency proclamation expires.

Governor Mills was joined Tuesday by Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who provided an update to the public on the status of the COVID-19 outbreak in Maine.

Maine experienced another coronavirus-related death overnight after a woman in her 70s from York County passed away, bringing the total number of statewide COVID-19 deaths to 20. The state is aware of 734 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maine, an increase of 36 since yesterday’s update. The bulk of these cases remain in Cumberland County.

Overall, 124 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illness and 58 Mainers are actively hospitalized; 37 individuals are receiving care in regular hospital beds while the other 21 are being treated in intensive care units. Nine individuals are currently on ventilators related to their coronavirus illness. A total of 292 individuals have fully recovered from their illnesses as of Tuesday.

Dr. Shah also provided additional information on the status of the three COVID-19 outbreaks at congregate care facilities in Maine; the Tall Pines facility in Belfast, the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, and the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation.

Shah said there are currently 24 cases associated with the Tall Pines facility, 19 among residents and five among staff; 38 cases associated with the Maine Veterans’ Home, an increase of six cases since yesterday; and 63 cases associated with the Augusta rehab facility, an increase of 8 cases since yesterday.

The Maine CDC pulled, packed and shipped 116 orders of personal protective equipment (PPE) overnight in collaboration with the Department of Transportation, with two-thirds of the PPE going to congregate care facilities, such as nursing homes, across the state. This represents a total of 67,000 pieces of PPE – or five full cargo vans – including approximately 4,000 N95 masks, 26,000 surgical masks, 4,600 face shields, 28,000 gloves, 400 protective suits and 4,500 surgical gowns.

The Maine CDC is also working today to ship out an additional 30 orders of PPE, the bulk of which is also going to congregate care facilities. The Maine CDC has filled 832 orders of PPE since the outbreak started in Maine.

Dr. Shah noted it is a top priority of the Maine CDC to continue assisting long-term care facilities with rapid testing and PPE shipments. The Maine CDC laboratory is preparing test kits that can be distributed across these facilities so swabs are done quickly and properly and sent to the state’s laboratory in Augusta, where results can be returned within 24 hours.

The state has no backlog of testing and has the capacity to perform 3,000 tests. The state laboratory is also working to secure additional stock of the chemical reagent used in testing to bolster the state’s testing capacity, though the supply of the necessary chemical reagent is poor nationwide.

Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, also announced Tuesday the intended use of the two alternative care sites being set up at the Cross Insurance arenas in Portland and Bangor. The alternative care site in Portland will be used for people who have contracted COVID-19 but do not need intensive care while the site in Bangor will be used for people who have not contracted COVID-19, in order to keep them out of health care facilities where they could be exposed to the virus.

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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