Maine reported 42 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily total in a week, but there were no new deaths and the daily average is still trending downward.

There have now been a total of 2,878 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 and 102 deaths since mid-March. Of those cases, 2,300 people have recovered, leaving the number of active cases at 476.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention posted the new figures on the agency’s website Thursday morning.

Over the last 10 days, the average daily number of new cases is 29, down from an average of 36.2 over the previous 10-day period. Additionally, there have been just three deaths in the last 10 days, compared to 14 over the previous 10 days.

Maine’s 7-day average peaked at about 52 cases in late May and has been coming down since. The same has been true of COVID-19 related hospitalizations. In all, 323 people have been hospitalized at some point, including 27 who were in the hospital on Thursday. Ten were in critical care and four were using a ventilator.

As important as the weekly case and hospitalization average is the state’s positivity rate, which also is decreasing. This is a sign that the state has been testing more people and a broader swath of people with increased capacity. There have now been more than 80,000 tests conducted, including the traditional swab test and antibody tests, and the percentage that have come back positive is 4.32 percent. That has dropped by nearly two percentage points in a little more than a month, according to the Maine CDC.

A man walks past an empty storefront on Middle Street on Wednesday. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

The trends are positive but will be watched closely in the coming days. On Wednesday, restaurants opened for indoor dining everywhere and fitness centers, nail salons, tattoo parlors and brewery tasting rooms were permitted to open as well, as long as the facilities follow health and safety guidelines designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection.

Even as numbers continue to trend downward, Maine Gov. Janet Mills is reconsidering her plan to allow bars to open on July 1.

Maine CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah said Wednesday that bars present additional challenges because they can be jammed with people talking loudly. Loud talking or singing create a higher risk of expanding the range of respiratory droplets containing the virus, making it more likely they will pass from one person to another, especially without proper distancing and widespread face coverings.

Shah said outbreaks involving dozens of customers and employees at bars in Jacksonville, Florida, and Boise, Idaho, show how easily the novel coronavirus can spread in such places.

States that have reopened their economies ahead of Maine are starting to see record numbers of new cases. Florida, for example, recorded 3,207 new cases Thursday, a record single-day total.

President Trump is scheduled to host a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma – his first in months – in a state that also has seen single-day records this week.

 

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