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Mills Convenes 'Economic Recovery Committee' As COVID-19 Cases And Deaths Continue To Rise

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Maine Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a briefing on the coronavirus April 28, 2020, in Augusta, as Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, right, looks on.

As Maine's total number of COVID-19 cases rose by another 28, and the disease took another life, Maine Gov. Janet Mills said she's convening an Economic Recovery Committee comprised of  37 business, government and municipal leaders, lawmakers, representatives of Maine's tourism industry and other stakeholders.Mills made the announcement at the state Center for Disease Control briefing Wednesday.  The Committee will develop recommendations to mitigate economic damage to the state due to the coronavirus. 

"These recommendations will be the bridge between the current economic emergency caused by the pandemic to the long term renewal of Maine's economy," Mills said.

Maine has now had 1,254 cases of the new coronavirus since the disease first appeared in the state, and 62 deaths. Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the total number of cases do not include dozens identified at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Portland.  After universal testing at the facility, the total number of positive results total 51, Shah said.  He said those cases will be added to Thursday's tally.

Shah said universal testing has also been launched at the Springbrook Center, a skilled nursing facility in Westbrook, where four cases have turned up, including three residents and one staff member.

"As is our protocol, Maine CDC has recommended universal testing, which is underway," said Shah. "And we understand that nearly 300 samples have been collected and are on their way to our laboratory up here in Augusta." 

Springbrook is the seventh nursing home in the state with an outbreak of COVID-19.  

Seven-hundred-sixty-six people have recovered from the illness, 25 more than Tuesday, and 191 have been hospitalized over the course of the pandemic.

Twelve of the new cases added to today's tally were in Cumberland County, five in Androscoggin County and four in York County, where Shah said the most recent death - a woman in her 70's - occurred.

Mills said she could be announcing more easing of coronavirus restrictions soon.  She said the pandemic "forces us to reimagine how we do everything," and is both a public health and economic issue.

The Economic Recovery Committee, she said, is intended to create a plan to bridge the gap between the current economic emergency and Maine's long-term economic renewal. The committee is scheduled to deliver a preliminary report July 15, and a final one Dec. 1.

Heather Johnson of Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development joined the news conference.

Updated 3:04 p.m. May 6, 2020.

Barbara grew up in Biddeford, Maine. She earned a master’s in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s in English from the University of Southern Maine.