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Maine Logs Only 5 Additional Cases Of COVID-19 For The Second Time This Week

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

The number of COVID-19 cases logged in Maine since the pandemic's onset grew overnight by five to 3,997. That's according to new figures the Maine Center for Disease Control posted Thursday.No additonal deaths were reported, keeping the death toll at 124, said Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah at a briefing Thursday.

It's the second day this week that Maine's net gain in total cases tallied only five, Shah said. The first day was Aug. 4.

"More than anything, it is a testament to the fact that Maine people have taken to heart the scientific recommendations to wear face coverings and stay physically distanced from one another," Shah said.

But he acknowledged that trying to gather with friends and family while wearing a mask and social distancing is "not fun, not enjoyable," likening it to going on a diet.

"Mainers have been on a very long COVID-19 diet, and the reason we look good now is because of the diet we're sticking to, not despite it," Shah said. "Now is not the time to abandon that diet and indulge in barbecues or pizza parties."

Shah said Maine's 7-weighted average positity rate for COVID-19 now stands at less than 1%, compared with a national average of 8%. Meanwhile, Shah said, cases in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey have risen sharply in the last two weeks, something he warned could happen in Maine if residents stop following health and safety guidelines.

Shah said due to Maine's low COVID-19 infection rate, officials are discussing the issues involved in allowing school sports to resume, but he said no decision has yet been made. 

Meanwhile, Shah announced a newly discovered outbreak of four cases of COVID-19 at the Pine Point Center in Scarborough, two of them among residents and two among staff. He said the state continues to follow outbreaks at Hancock Foods, Merrill Farms and Wyman's blueberries, which he said were discovered due to a partnership between the companies and Maine Mobile Health to test arriving workers before they started their jobs.

The state is also continuing its investigation of outbreaks at Central Maine Medical Center and the Marshwood Center, both in Lewiston, while an outbreak at the Mooring On Foreside in Cumberland Foreside has been closed, Shah said.

Meanwhile, another 19 Mainers have recovered from the virus, for a total 3,475 recoveries since the pandemic began. That leaves 398 active cases that the state is tracking, 30 fewer than Wednesday.

A total of 390 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. Eleven people are currently hospitalized, Shah said, three in intensive care.  One person is on a ventilator. 

"We've got an opportunity to keep COVID-19 rates low" as long as Mainers continue to wear masks, social distance," and follow other health guidance, Shah said.  But without continued vigilance, he said, cases here could begin to spike like they have in several other states.

Patty Wight contributed to this report. Updated at 4:58 p.m. Aug. 6, 2020.