State health officials reported 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as well as one additional death in Maine.

To date, 888 people statewide have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, although health officials warn that the number of infected individuals is likely much higher. A man in his 80s from Cumberland County was the 36th individual in Maine to die from the disease.

The latest figures from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that Tuesday was the first day when the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 surpassed active cases. After accounting for deaths and the 443 recoveries, Maine CDC data show 409 active coronavirus cases on Tuesday, which was 17 fewer than a day earlier.

But as he often does during his daily briefings, state CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah cautioned that Maine’s trends are “exquisitely sensitive to day-to-day changes.”

“Even though the number of recovered individuals is rising – it’s up 30 from yesterday – we are still very much in the thick of things,” Shah said. “We are still seeing additional cases, and given the low numbers that we have in Maine, any one day’s change is difficult to interpret.”

One clear trend in Maine, however, is the heightened risks faced by healthcare workers. Of the 888 confirmed cases, 215 individuals – or 24 percent – are healthcare workers, which is higher than the 19 percent reported last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That disproportionate share is likely due, in part, to the fact that healthcare professionals are among the top priorities for testing because of their higher risks of infection and transmitting the disease to others. But on Tuesday, the administration of Gov. Janet Mills launched a dedicated telephone support line – dubbed the FrontLine WarmLine – to help healthcare workers and first responders manage the stress of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

“Maine’s first responders and healthcare providers put themselves under great stress responding to this pandemic,” Jessica Pollard, director of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health, said in a statement. “It’s important for these dedicated professionals to know we’re here for them and are ready to support them in managing the completely expected reactions they may have.”

Healthcare professionals or first responders calling the line can speak to volunteer psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists and others from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. The FrontLine WarmLine numbers are 207-221-8196 or 866-367-4440.

The Maine CDC is tracking outbreaks at several long-term or congregate care facilities: the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation, Tall Pines nursing home in Belfast, the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, Falmouth By the Sea and The Cedars in Portland.

Those five facilities have reported 120 confirmed cases among residents and 63 infections among staff members as well as 16 deaths. While Shah reported only one new confirmed case at congregate care facilities Tuesday, he noted that a fifth resident of the Scarborough veterans’ home died of the disease.

Forty people were hospitalized from the illness as of Tuesday, with 16 of those patients being cared for in intensive care units. Among those patients, eight were hooked up to ventilators to assist their breathing after suffering respiratory failure.

Maine hospitals had a total of 317 intensive care beds on Tuesday, of which 149 were available, and a total of 336 ventilators, of which 281 were available. The state also has 369 alternative ventilators, according to the CDC.

There is an ongoing debate in Maine and across the country about when governors will be able to lift the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on individuals and businesses in order to begin reopening the economy. A key part of that equation, public health officials say, will be ramping up states’ testing capacity to better document infection rates.

Yet there appears to be a disconnect between governors and the White House – and particularly with President Trump – over the role the federal government should play in ramping up testing and states’ current capacity to conduct those tests.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ office said late Monday that an email from the White House providing a state-by-state breakdown of states’ testing capacity “does not appear to be accurate and is not representative of testing capacity within Maine – a concern shared by several other governors with respect to their states.”

“This inaccurate document aside, what Maine needs most right (now) is support from the Federal government to expand testing in a significant and meaningful way, including delivery of additional testing supplies,” Mills spokeswoman Lindsay Crete said in a statement. “In the meantime, the state will continue to do its best to work with the federal government and private vendors to obtain needed testing materials.”

Cumberland County remains the hotspot for COVID-19 in Maine, with 386 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, followed by York County with 186 cases and six deaths. The two counties added eight new confirmed cases between Monday and Tuesday, but 17 people were added to the recovered list in Cumberland and York counties.

Meanwhile, Waldo County held steady with 43 total cases, eight deaths and five recoveries. The Tall Pines nursing home in Belfast has been the hardest-hit congregate care facility in the state, reporting eight deaths among the 39 confirmed cases there.

To date, Maine has experienced lower infection and death rates per capita than many other states, according to COVID-19 tracking and analysis by The New York Times. But Maine also is believed to be behind most other northeastern states along the “curve” of the disease, which has an incubation period of up to 14 days.

As of Monday, Maine had a confirmed infection rate of 65 people for every 100,000 residents, placing the state in the bottom fifth nationally. The rate in New York, by comparison, was 1,272 cases among every 100,000 people, while Massachusetts stood at 575 cases for every 100,000 residents, according to the newspaper’s tracking system.

Maine and New Hampshire have had three deaths per 100,000 people compared to 37 deaths per 100,000 Connecticut residents and 26 deaths for every 100,000 residents of Massachusetts.

As part of his daily message to Mainers, Shah urged people not to delay seeking medical treatment for other health issues or wellness care because of fear of going to the doctor during the coronavirus crisis. Shah expressed concern about “a silent, sub-epidemic” of people delaying care for diabetes, high blood pressure or even being hesitant to call 911 during an emergency for non-COVID issues.

“Please reach out to your medical providers,” Shah said. “They have adapted the way that they provide health care in order to keep you as safe as possible. They are standing by and have been continuing to keep Maine people safe and healthy. Please don’t delay in reaching out to them. Now is still a good time to get health care.”

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