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Number Of Maine COVID-19 Cases Rises To 89

Willis Ryder Arnold
Maine Public
An ambulance and tent outside of Maine Medical Center in Portland on Friday, March 13, 2020

The Maine Center for Disease Control is confirming 89 cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, with eight people hospitalized.

The illness caused by the coronavirus is now in half of Maine's 16 counties. Cumberland has the highest number of cases, with 53 cases, followed by eight in York, four each in Kennebec, Lincoln, and Oxford Counties, three each in Androscoggin and Sagadahoc Counties, and two in Penobscot. The county origin of eight cases is currently under investigation.

"What we know about outbreaks is that we are often just detecting the tip of the iceberg."

During a teleconference with reporters Sunday, State CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said that he expects the overall number of cases of COVID-19 to increase statewide and reach into other counties.

"No one should be waiting until they see cases in their county or using even a certain number of cases in their county as a calibration point for when to begin taking preparatory action."

Shah says all Mainers should practice physical distancing by maintaining about a six-foot distance from others. He also urged residents to find different ways to connect socially, including by phone and letters.

"The assumption for everyone in the state right now should be that coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, may be in their communities."

During the briefing, Shah also announced that the CDC will distribute 22,000 pieces of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, to health care institutions on Monday, including 2400 N95 face masks, more than 8000 surgical masks, nearly 2000 face shields, and 6000 gloves. Dr. Shah says that he is anticipating additional supplies from the federal government, but it will not be sufficient.

"What we have gotten has been a start, but it is not where we need to be right now. And so we are continuing our call for federal officials to release additional pieces of PPE."