A woman walks on Commercial Street in Portland on June 11. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

State health officials reported 53 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest single-day total in nearly two weeks and just as Maine is close to fully reopening.

But there were no additional deaths and the daily average over the last 10 days is 26 cases, compared to 33 cases over the previous 10-day period.

In all, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded 3,070 cases since mid-March – 2,731 confirmed and 339 probable cases. Of those, 2,512 people have recovered and 103 people have died, leaving 455 active cases, 31 more than Wednesday.

A total of 343 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, but only 25 were in the hospital Thursday, including 12 in critical care and six on ventilators. Maine’s hospital resources have yet to be strained the way other states’ have.

Hospitalization rates and death trends are key metrics for tracking the progress of the virus and efforts to contain transmission. Intensive care beds and ventilators are critical tools for treating hospitalized patients, and epidemiologists closely monitor the demand for these resources as they study the spread of the disease.

Although Maine cases are trending downward, that hasn’t been true nationally. Wednesday marked a single-day record in the United States, with 38,672 new cases reported. The spike has been driven by large numbers of new cases in states like Florida, Texas and Arizona that pushed to reopen their economies quickly and did not embrace safety measures, such as requiring masks in public places. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced that he was pausing his state’s reopening because of an alarming trend of new cases and hospitalizations.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday that, over the last 2 weeks, cases have risen by 84 percent in states that don’t require wearing masks in public. In states where mask wearing is mandatory, cases have fallen by 25 percent.

Maine is one of the states where mask wearing is required, but compliance with that order remains challenging.

The latest daily total is the highest since June 12, when 54 cases were reported, and only the fourth day in the last month with more than 50 cases.

More than half of all Maine’s cases have come from Cumberland County and 83 percent have come from Cumberland, York or Androscoggin counties, which are among the most populous.

In addition to the low numbers of cases in Maine, the state has seen just five deaths related to COVID-19 over the last 20 days. There were 29 deaths recorded during the previous 20-day period.

More widespread testing has led to a continued decrease in the state’s positivity rate, which is a sign that Maine is testing a broad swath of people in hopes of detecting any outbreaks or community spread quickly. The overall positivity rate in Maine is about 4 percent, but the average rate over the last seven days is under 2 percent.

Testing will remain crucial as Maine businesses continue to open and as visitors come into the state. As of July 1, most of the businesses that had been closed will be allowed to reopen, with restrictions and safety measures.

The businesses include: spas and skin care establishments, including laser hair removal and similar services; outdoor amusements, such as amusement parks and water parks; indoor amusements, such as bowling and arcades; movie theaters and performing arts venues.

Those businesses are included in Phase Three of Gov. Janet Mills’ reopening plan, the final stage of statewide economic reopening. The vast majority of public-facing businesses in Maine can now serve customers in some form.

Some businesses are still curtailed. Indoor service in bars and tasting rooms and breweries and distilleries was delayed this week following virus outbreaks related to those confined spaces in other states.

“The increasing, and in some instances record high, number of COVID-19 cases in other states are cautionary tales for Maine as we continue our reopening, monitor the prevalence of the virus here, and look towards our economic recovery,” Mills said in a statement. “Nothing would be more devastating to our economy than a significant surge in the virus that sickens and kills more people and jeopardizes our health care capacity.”

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