The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 560 and two more Mainers passed away as a result of the virus according to Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who delivered comments Thursday during his daily press briefing.
One of the Mainers who passed away was a man in his 80s from Cumberland County and the other was a woman in her 90s from Waldo County. Sixteen Mainers diagnosed with COVID-19 have passed away to date while 202 have fully recovered from the virus, an increase of 15 overnight.
Dr. Shah shared that Maine CDC has performed 4,530 consults to date and 11,608 individuals have tested negative for COVID-19 in Maine. He also reported for the first time how many Maine residents have contracted the virus in other states and how many individuals from out-of-state have contracted the virus here in Maine.
Thirteen Mainers have tested positive for COVID-19 in other jurisdictions while 17 people from other states have tested positive here in Maine. The Maine CDC has the capacity to perform 3,000 to 3,500 tests and the turnaround on testing is approximately 24 hours, faster than the commercial laboratories that are also testing patients. Shah also noted that Maine is 13th in the country in testing per capita and that there is no longer an active backlog of testing at the Maine CDC laboratory.
One item of particular concern for the Maine CDC moving forward is the Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Facility in Belfast where 10 residents and three staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Maine CDC continues to prioritize testing and providing resources for staff and patients in congregate settings where the virus is more likely to spread. The Tall Pines facility received a shipment of PPE from the Maine CDC on Monday. The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in congregate settings statewide is 43.
Dr. Shah also noted that Mainers are heeding the advice of public health officials and staying home to stop the spread of the virus. Using data from the Maine Department of Transportation and cell phone providers, Shah said that traffic on I=95 at the Maine and New Hampshire border is down 61 percent from this time last year. There has also been a 62 percent reduction in traffic flow on I-295 in Portland. Overall, traffic flow is down 53 percent on Maine highways and between 30 and 40 percent on rural highways.
Maine is shipping out 90 orders of PPE to health care facilities and received word from the federal government that Maine is set to receive an additional 15,000 surgical gowns and 16,000 gloves in the coming days.
Maine CDC continues to track the availability of vital health care resources throughout the state and reported Thursday that there are 308 ICU beds statewide of which 149 are available, 333 ventilators of which 283 are available, and 232 alternative ventilators. The state’s total ventilator capacity is 565 with 515 available.
To date, 97 health care workers have contracted the virus here in Maine, and the Maine CDC reported that there are still no confirmed cases of the virus within the Department of Corrections. Sixteen tests have been performed on individuals and staff within the department and 15 of those tests have come back negative with one test pending.
When pressed on when Maine could return to normal by lifting the governor’s stay at home order and reopening nonessential businesses, Shah said there are a number of factors that go into the state’s decision. These include the state’s testing capability and seeing a prolonged period of time where no new cases of the virus are reported.