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Maine Reports 54 New Cases Of COVID-19; Death Toll Remains At 100

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

The Maine Center for Disease Control is reporting its biggest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases since late May.

Fifty-four new cases were reported Friday, after about a week of relatively modest increases and on the third consecutive day of no additional fatalities. The total number of cases since the pandemic began is 2,721, with the death toll at 100.

It’s not yet clear if the spike is related to any ongoing outbreak or a new one that has not yet been identified. Any such links could be discovered after investigators from the Maine CDC conduct contact tracing.

The spike did not deter the Mills administration from moving up its plan to allow lodging businesses to begin accepting reservations from out-of-state visitors on June 26 — five days earlier than originally scheduled.

“Fifty-odd cases is not a great number,” acknowledged Maine Gov. Janet Mills, who joined Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Economic Development Commissioner Heather Johnson at a media briefing Friday.

Visitors are still required to quarantine for 14 days or provide proof that they’ve had a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival.

Residents of New Hampshire and Vermont are exempted from the requirement because those states have a lower prevalence of COVID-19.

Mills said the three-day plateau in the death toll “says what we’re doing is working.” The governor said it’s difficult to balance economic and health concerns, but she said the two issues can’t be separated.

“Nothing would be worse for our economy and our tourism industry in particular” than a resurgance of COVID-19, she said.

According to new figures the Maine Center for Disease Control released Friday, 2,105 people have recovered from the disease, 43 more than Thursday, leaving a total of 516 active cases. Some 683 of Maine’s cases have been among health care workers, Shah said.

He said the Maine CDC continues to work on several outbreaks, including one at Abbott Labs in Scarborough, where 25 cases have been identified, Nichols manufacturing in Portland, with seven cases and where universal testing is underway, and Procter and Gamble’s Tambrands facility in Auburn with 13 cases.

He said two outbreaks at shelters have been closed, one at Oxford Street Shelter in Portland, where there were 15 cases, and another at Hope House in Bangor.

Shah said the feds have told the CDC that the state will receive another five cases of the antiviral drug remdesivir next week.

A total of 308 Mainers have been hospitalized for COVID-19 sometime during the course of their illness. Thirty-two are currently hospitalized, 11 of them in critical care, and five are on ventilators.

Updated at 3:42 p.m. June 12, 2020.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.
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.