Maine recorded two additional coronavirus deaths and 42 new confirmed cases on Sunday – an increase of more than 80 over the weekend – as the number of infections rose to 253.

A woman in her 80s and a man in his 60s, both from Cumberland County, are the second and third people in the state to die from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The man was a longtime employee of the Maine Department of Transportation, the agency said in a news release Sunday afternoon. The woman has not been identified.

“Our entire MaineDOT family mourns this tragic loss,” DOT Commissioner Bruce Van Note said in a statement. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to our colleague’s family and friends, and we remain forever grateful for his service to the State of Maine.”

The DOT employee recently had gone on vacation – the agency did not say where – and didn’t return to work afterward, so the danger of infection among his co-workers is low, officials said.

“I am grateful for his years of service to our State, and, on behalf of the people of Maine, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and loved ones, as well as our faithful employees at the Maine Department of Transportation and throughout State government during this difficult time,” Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement. “Please know that we share in your grief, and we support you.”

Maine reported its first coronavirus fatality on Friday – a Cumberland County man in his 80s. Forty-one people had recovered as of Sunday.

As of late Sunday morning, the virus, which is particularly dangerous to older people and those with compromised immune systems, had reached 12 of Maine’s 16 counties.

Cumberland County still led in case numbers, with 142, followed by York County, with 47. The Maine CDC has observed community transmission in both counties.

Public health officials are warning all Mainers, however, to take precautions, even if cases haven’t been officially diagnosed in their counties yet.

FIRST CASE IN SOMERSET COUNTY

Somerset County saw its first confirmed case on Sunday. There were also 11 cases in Penobscot County, 10 in Kennebec, nine in Oxford, eight in Androscoggin, seven in Sagadahoc, five in Lincoln, four in Knox, and two each in Waldo and Franklin.

Forty-four percent of recorded cases were among Mainers 60 and older, a higher-risk group. Infection rates were nearly equal between males and females.

On Sunday, the full breakdown of confirmed cases by age was as follows: 2 percent in those under 20, 11 percent in their 20s, 9 percent in their 30s, 17 percent in their 40s, 18 percent in their 50s, 21 percent in their 60s, 13 percent in their 70s, and 10 percent in their 80s or older.

As coronavirus spreads across the state, the Maine CDC is trying to acquire the medicine and equipment needed to treat patients and keep health workers safe.

A shipment of chemicals for testing recently arrived – enough for 3,000 patients – but even more will be needed, Maine CDC’s director, Dr. Nirav Shah, said last week.

Maine has 164 intensive care beds total around the state, and 90 were available on Sunday, a Maine CDC spokesman said. The state has 311 ventilators, which are needed for extreme cases where patients are unable to breathe on their own, and 242 were available.

Shah has cautioned that a sharp rise in cases over a day is not long-term enough for epidemiologists to draw conclusions about a trend in an outbreak. Still, he said in a Twitter post that Saturday’s 43-case increase was “concerning.”

Globally, there were more than 710,000 coronavirus infections as of Sunday, and deaths topped 33,000. By midafternoon, the U.S. had over 135,000 infections and 2,300 deaths, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, The Associated Press reported.

Maine has taken emergency measures, closing schools and “nonessential” businesses and encouraging residents to stay indoors, except for such activities as grocery shopping and physical exercise.

As concerns mount about potential transmission of the virus from out-of-state visitors, Maine plans to post messages on electronic sign boards along the Maine Turnpike that direct people coming from areas with high infection rates – such as New York – to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

3 SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEES TEST POSITIVE

It’s not clear how state authorities will enforce that order, though some Maine residents reportedly have taken it on themselves to control the movements of people they believe to be at risk of spreading the virus. The Knox County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated a report that armed Vinalhaven residents felled a tree to block the driveway of people they believed should be quarantined.

As well as medical professionals, grocery store employees have endured higher-than-average risk as they work on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Hannaford Bros. supermarket chain learned Saturday that a worker at its Oxford store and another at its Scarborough store had tested positive for COVID-19, spokesman Eric Blom said Sunday. Neither employee had worked at the stores for several days, he said, but Hannaford still conducted a “deep and thorough cleaning” at each store. Both locations are open.

“This deep cleaning was in addition to our ongoing, rigorous sanitary practices, and those practices have been greatly expanded during the health crisis,” Blom said in an email.

Shaw’s Supermarkets said Saturday night that an employee at its Congress Street store in Portland had tested positive. The employee last worked a shift on March 23, but the chain did not provide details about the person’s role at the store.


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