The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday reported 19 new cases of the coronavirus, making for a small rise in case numbers. There were no deaths over the weekend.

Maine has now had 2,957 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic, of which 2,629 are confirmed by testing and 328 are considered probable cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The state has seen 102 deaths.

Subtracting numbers of people who have recovered – 2,391 – and died, there were 464 active cases on Sunday. Twenty-six people were hospitalized with COVID-19, a slight decrease over the weekend.

The Maine CDC on Sunday announced that it was investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 involving at least seven people in the Houlton area, including four on the Houlton Ambulance Service staff.

The staff members may have caught the coronavirus from a patient they transported to Houlton Regional Hospital on June 13, and then took to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor the next day, the Maine CDC said in a news release. That patient wasn’t showing symptoms at the time, but later tested positive for COVID-19.

Everyone involved is self-isolating, and the Maine CDC said it is conducting contact tracing to track the outbreak.

Anyone who may have come into close contact with members of the Houlton Ambulance Service since June 8 should call Houlton Regional Hospital at 207-532-2900 to obtain information about drive-thru testing, the Maine CDC said.

The ability to track and trace positive cases is aided when the positivity rate is decreased, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC said Friday. On Sunday, Shah reported a further decrease in the overall positivity rate in Maine, down to 4.23 percent, a decrease of two percentage points in a month. Further, Saturday’s positivity rate was 1.84 (over 1,416 tests), bringing the seven-day average down to 1.69 percent.

Despite the overall leveling of case numbers and hospitalizations, Shah noted on Friday that the coronavirus had disproportionately affected people in minority communities. He called the disparity “unacceptable” on Twitter.

Although Black Americans are 1.6 percent of Maine’s population, they account for 23 percent of coronavirus cases – giving Maine the dubious distinction of having the greatest racial disparity in case rates in the United States.

The state’s economy is also in poor shape as the tourist season begins, new unemployment data from May revealed. Adding together the unofficial unemployment rate and roughly 125,000 out-of-work people mistakenly not included in that figure, roughly 18 percent of Mainers were unemployed in May.

Maine is burning through its unemployment compensation trust fund, which had socked away $500 million at the beginning of the pandemic and now is paying out $22 million a week in benefits. Gov. Janet Mills’ administration last week informed lawmakers it planned to use $270 million in federal aid to defray those expenses.

More of Maine’s economy is scheduled to reopen on July 1, including indoor bar and tavern service, but state health officials have raised concerns about recent news indicating that crowded bars have helped to spread COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Mainers still are struggling to get used to the health regulations already in place, including the requirement that they wear masks in public places where physical distancing isn’t possible. The rule has seen spotty observance, and even spottier enforcement.

County by county on Sunday, there were 452 cases in Androscoggin, 17 in Aroostook, 1,540 in Cumberland, 38 in Franklin, 14 in Hancock, 138 in Kennebec, 24 in Knox, 21 in Lincoln, 34 in Oxford, 102 in Penobscot, two in Piscataquis, 30 in Sagadahoc, 26 in Somerset, 55 in Waldo, two in Washington and 461 in York.


By age, 6.9 percent of patients were under 20, 15.1 percent were in their 20s, 15.5 percent were in their 30s, 15.7 percent were in their 40s, 17 percent were in their 50s, 12 percent were in their 60s, 8.8 percent were in their 70s, and 9.1 percent were 80 or older.

Women still make up the majority of cases, at 51.2 percent.

Of the 26 patients in Maine hospitals with COVID-19 on Sunday (three fewer than Saturday), 11 were in intensive care (two fewer than Saturday) and five were on ventilators. The state had 147 intensive care unit beds available of a total 385, and 266 ventilators available of 319. There were also 441 alternative ventilators that can breathe for patients with acute cases.

Around the world on Sunday, there were nearly 8.9 million cases of coronavirus and more than 465,000 deaths. The United States had 2.2 million cases and nearly 120,000 deaths.

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