The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 17 new cases of the coronavirus as well as one additional death on Tuesday.
To date, the Maine CDC is tracking 3,440 confirmed or probable cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. Cases are categorized as confirmed following a positive molecular test while probable cases involve symptomatic individuals who had close contact with an infected person or tested positive during an antibody test.
There have been 110 deaths in Maine among individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. The Maine CDC said the latest death was of a man in his 90s from Cumberland County.
The tally of 17 new cases is more than double Monday’s total — an unusually low figure that the state’s top epidemiologist said likely reflected “a bit of a holiday weekend effect” — but is below the seven-day rolling average of 27 new cases per day. In comparison, Maine averaged 37 new cases daily for the seven-day period ending June 30.
An additional 29 residents were reported as having recovered from the COVID-19 disease, which has sickened more than 2.9 million people nationwide and has been linked to at least 131,000 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking project.
After accounting for the 110 deaths in Maine and the 2,816 people who have recovered, Maine CDC was reporting 514 active cases of the disease, which is a decrease of 13 since Monday. Maine averaged 528 active cases per day for the week ending on Tuesday compared to a 475 active cases daily for the seven-day period ending June 30.
Twenty-two people were hospitalized with nine in critical care units and four connected to ventilators because of respiratory failure.
Although case numbers fluctuate from day to day, Maine has yet to experience the large spikes and record highs being seen in other states, particularly in the South and West. Maine’s infection rate was the seventh-lowest in the nation as of Tuesday, according to The New York Times’ COVID-19 tracking system.
But concerns remain about the potential for surges in Maine, particularly as residents begin resuming normal activities or socializing with others and as more out-of-state tourists come to Maine. Visitors from most states are required to have a negative test result no more than 72 hours before arriving in Maine or to self-quarantine for 14 days. But residents of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey are exempt from those requirements because of low rates in those states.
“The numbers of new positive cases could change for the worse, unfortunately, as has happened at a number of southern and western states across the country,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, during his Monday briefing. “Even though these numbers are encouraging, they are not an occasion to let our guard down. We are still in this.”
The Mills administration is working with the Attorney General’s Office and business groups to finalize an executive order and associated guidance requiring large retailers, restaurants and other businesses to enforce the state’s face-covering requirement. The order is expected to apply to businesses in all coastal counties except Washington as well as the inland cities of Bangor, Brewer, Lewiston and Auburn.
On Tuesday, the Retail Association of Maine, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association released a 30-second public service announcement featuring business owners urging consumers to wear face coverings. Entitled “Let’s be Kind,” the PSA will air on television stations around the state and be disseminated via social media.
“Wearing a mask is uncomfortable, but it’s important and it’s basically about taking care of the people around you,” Jeff Purdy of Bow Street Market in Freeport says on the PSA.
“Please don’t upset our people,” said John Reny of the Reny’s department store chain. “They are just doing their job and they are trying to make it safe for you.”