Maine reported 25 new cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday and no additional deaths, keeping critical numbers low across the state even as delayed testing renews fears of transmission from out-of-state visitors.

Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 3,937, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those cases, 3,516 have been confirmed by testing and 421 are considered probable cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

One hundred twenty-three people have died with COVID-19 in Maine.

Subtracting numbers of people who have recovered – 3,377 – and died, there were 437 active cases on Saturday.

Officials at Bar Harbor’s Mount Desert Island Hospital reported Friday that out-of-state visitors have approached them asking for advice after receiving delayed positive results from tests they took in their home states.

 

A surge in COVID-19 cases in the South and Southwest appears to be a factor in the nationwide test delays, which are now hampering Maine’s ability to ensure that tourism can continue safely.

In a statement posted online Friday, the Bar Harbor hospital said it encouraged visitors who received positive results while in Maine to come forward. The hospital is providing counseling and contact tracing assistance, which can be accessed at 207-801-5900.

Meanwhile, Maine is giving every county in Maine the OK to open schools for in-person instruction this fall – including hardest-hit Cumberland County, which recently climbed above 2,000 cumulative cases.

The ultimate decision about whether to offer in-person instruction, remote instruction, or some combination of the two will fall to school districts, the head of the Maine Department of Education said in a virtual news conference Friday.

Maine is using a three-tiered system to assess the risk in opening schools by county, and under the state’s initial guidelines, all counties are “green” – the lowest risk. Education Commissioner Pender Makin emphasized on Friday, however, that “a green or lower-risk designation does not mean school districts must return to all in-person classroom instruction.”

Earlier this past week, Gov. Janet Mills announced a $5 million boost to Maine’s rental assistance program, which will allow the state to pay up to $1,000 monthly to landlords whose tenants need help with their rent. That’s double the maximum amount of rental assistance the state has offered since April.

Landlords must agree not to evict their tenants in order to receive the funds. Along with the $5 million infusion, Mills on Thursday announced another $1 million aimed at addressing Maine’s wide racial and ethnic disparity in COVID-19 cases.

County by county since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 550 cases in Androscoggin, 32 in Aroostook, 2,047 in Cumberland, 45 in Franklin, 27 in Hancock, 167 in Kennebec, 26 in Knox, 34 in Lincoln, 54 in Oxford, 146 in Penobscot, three in Piscataquis, 50 in Sagadahoc, 34 in Somerset, 62 in Waldo, eight in Washington, and 650 in York.

By age, 9.1 percent of patients were under 20, while 16.3 percent were in their 20s, 15.4 percent were in their 30s, 15 percent were in their 40s, 16.4 percent were in their 50s, 11.6 percent were in their 60s, 8.1 percent were in their 70s, and 8.2 percent were 80 or over.

Women still are the slight majority of cases, at just under 52 percent.

Of the 10 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Saturday, five were in intensive care and one was on a ventilator. The state had 142 intensive care unit beds available of 402, and 266 ventilators available of 321. Maine also had 444 alternative ventilators.

Around the world late Saturday afternoon, there were 17.6 million known cases of COVID-19 and over 680,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had over 4.5 million cases and more than 153,000 deaths.

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