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WATCH: 376 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Maine

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Nick Woodward
/
Maine Public

Updated April 2, 2020 at 2:27 p.m. ET.

The Maine Center for Disease Control Thursday is reporting 376 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase of 32 cases from yesterday’s report.

The majority of cases - 278 - are in Cumberland and York counties, where officials say community transmission is occurring. The rest are scattered throughout 10 other Maine counties.

At an Augusta briefing, CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said there are now only three Maine counties with no recorded cases: Aroostook, Piscataquis, and Washington. But public health officials have warned that residents should assume the coronavirus is in their area, even if a case hasn't been identified yet.

Shah said the state is preparing for what's known as a medical surge - a time when existing health care facilities might not be able to handle demand for treatment.

That planning is occurring on two tracks, beginning with a triage center for COVID-19 patients at a yet-to-be disclosed location.

"And starting partly with a triage system so that individuals who are not feeling well can start there," he said. "But they may also be equipped to do more acute care."

The state is also looking at sites for an auxiliary hospital should Maine's existing health care facilities become overrun.

Shah did not provide additional specifics, but said the state was consulting with hospitals about the triage center while also reviewing its inventory of state-owned buildings to see if one could serve as a temporary hospital.

Shah also urged people to be wary of misinformation and scams circulating about the virus. "Where we are in this outbreak is such that there is no pill. There is no shot. There is no vaccine," he said. He said physical distancing is the most effective way right now to slow the spread of the disease. 

Shah said residents can find reliable information about the disease at the Maine CDC website or the U.S. CDC and FDA websites.

Shah also said the state lab sent 600 samples to an out-of-state lab and no longer has a testing back log.

"We continue to make sure that our laboratory is focused on returning rapid results to patients who are our highest priority, which is to say individuals who are ill, in the hospital, for whom health care workers need a quick response so they can guide clinical decision making."

As of Thursday, 68 in Maine have been hospitalized for COVID-19, and 8 have died. Ninety-four have recovered. Thursday evening, the  Togus VA Medical Center said a patient died after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Updated 4:39 p.m. April 2, 2020.