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Health

Maine CDC Reports 28 New Cases Of COVID-19, No New Deaths, As Gov Accelerates Reopening Plans

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Robert F. Bukaty
/
Associated Press
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah at a media briefing in Augusta, April 28, 2020.

The  Maine Center for Disease Control is reporting 28 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, for a total of 2,446 since the outbreak began.

The number of active cases is 612, while the number of deaths remains at 95. A total of 1,739 people have recovered from the disease, 40 more than Wednesday.

 

At a briefing Thursday, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said the state has, for the first time, released COVID-19 cases by zip code. He urged people not to abandon safety and health guidelines even if there are no cases identified in a particular zipcode. "Our baseline assumption is that risk of exposure is everywhere," Shah said.

 

Shah was joined by Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson. Johnson said Maine is moving up the date for allowing bars and tasting rooms to provide outdoor service to next Friday, June 12, in 13 of Maine's 16 counties.

 

Tattoo and piercing parlors are also being allowed to reopen the same day, except in York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin counties. Gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons are also allowed to resume operations in 13 counties.

 

In a written statement, Gov. Janet Mills says continued low case numbers of COVID-19 in these counties a month after other businesses reopened allows for the accelerated timeline.

 

Asked about the disparities in the rates of COVID-19 among whites and people of color, Lambrew said the state is taking a number of steps to address the issue. "We find the racial disparities in COVID-19 alarming," Lambrew said.

 

She said the state is undertaking a review to identify and remove barriers to health care and testing for people of color, and "engaging with people in the community" to ensure health care access for everyone in Maine.

 

Shah said the state has not been releasing COVID-19 information based on race because of the risk of identifying individuals with the disease. "We needed to make sure we had guard rails in place" so victims were not accidentally revealed. Over time, he said, that risk has diminished and he said the state will thus be releasing that information soon.

 

Asked about the risk of COVID-19 spread during President Trump's scheduled visit to a Guilford swab factory on Friday, Lambrew said people in Maine should continue doing what they have been doing - social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, avoiding large crowds and following other safety recommendations.

 

Updated June 4, 2020 at 2:15 p.m. ET.