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Maine Reports One More Death, 17 New COVID-19 Cases

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference Monday, March 16, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Another person died overnight and 17 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Maine, bringing the total number of cases to 2,836 and deaths to 102 since the pandemic began.

That's according to Maine Center for Disease Control Director Dr. Nirav Shah, who confirmed the newly-released information Wednesday at a press briefing.

Shah said the person who died was a man in his 70s from Cumberland County. That's where 11 of the 17 new cases were diagnosed. The other six cases turned up in Androscoggin County. 

This week, Gov. Janet Mills announced that beginning Wednesday, the administration was lifting restrictions in those two counties - and in York County - on indoor dining, and would allow bars and tasting rooms to provide outdoor service, and gyms, nail salons and a host of other businesses to reopen.

The state's reopening plan calls for bars statewide to allow indoor service beginning July 1, but Shah said outbreaks of COVID-19 originating in reopened bars in other states could prompt Maine to reconsider that date.

"They're often crowded," Shah said. "They often involve close spaces where individuals are, almost by definition, in close contact with one another.  Social distancing is extremely difficult.  In fact, the reason you go to a bar is to not socially distance."

Shah says Massachusetts and Vermont are also reevaluating their timelines for when bars can safely reopen for indoor customers.

The state is investigating a cluster of cases at Cape Seafood, a shellfish processor in Saco, where five people associated with the plant have tested positive for the disease.  Shah said health investigators have determined that the cluster did not originate at the plant, which he said has stringent safety measures in place. Instead, he said, the five spread it among eachother while carpooling.

Meanwhile, he said the state has now declared closed an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Maine Veterans Home, where more than 60 residents and staff were sickened and several died.

So far, 323 Mainers have been hospitalized with COVID-19 sometime during their illness, he said. Twenty-seven are currently hospitalized, 10 of them in intensive care. Five are on ventilators.

A total of 2,275 have recovered from COVID-19, 42 more than Tuesday.  The number of known active cases in the state now stands at 459. 

The CDC is now holding briefings on the new coronavirus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Updated at 2:38 p.m. June 17, 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.