Beachgoers crowd the sand at Old Orchard Beach on June 27. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 45 additional coronavirus cases but no additional deaths on Friday.

To date, Maine has recorded 3,373 confirmed or probable cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. While the state has yet to see the large surges in new cases being reported elsewhere around the country, the numbers in Maine have increased during the past week as more tests are conducted.

Maine averaged 39 new cases per day for the week ending Friday compared to an average of 27 cases daily for the seven-day period ending on June 26. The two-week average stood at 33 new cases daily on Friday versus 31 cases per day for the 14 days ending on June 19.

But the number of deaths among individuals with COVID-19 held steady at 105 for a third straight day.

After accounting for the 105 deaths and the 2,731 individuals who have recovered, the Maine CDC was reporting 537 “active” cases of COVID-19 on Friday. That is an increase of 12 from Thursday’s figure and gives Maine a seven-day average of 510 active cases compared to 453 cases for the week ending on June 26.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, did not hold a briefing on Friday because of the observed Independence Day holiday. But in messages posted on Twitter, Shah said that 2,615 molecular-based or PCR tests were conducted in Maine on Thursday.

While that is more than double the testing capacity from a month ago, it is still well shy of the roughly 4,500 tests per day that the state lab hopes to have the capacity to analyze daily through a partnership with Westbrook-based Idexx Laboratories.

“In #Maine, #COVID19 PCR testing volume has been increasing,” Shah said in a tweet. “Our 7-day moving average for daily PCR tests conducted is 144/100K people. That’s a nearly 40% increase in the past 11 days. We certainly have more to do to continue this testing expansion.”

Twenty-seven individuals with COVID-19 were hospitalized as of Friday, down three from Thursday, while nine people were being treated in critical care units and three individuals were connected to ventilators because of respiratory failure. Both of those numbers were unchanged since Thursday.

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 also critical tools closely tracked by epidemiologists, and as of Friday, Maine hospitals had 152 critical care beds and 257 ventilators available for use.

Maine businesses are gearing up for a somewhat busier holiday weekend – but nowhere near as busy as a typical July Fourth holiday – as more out-of-state visitors begin vacationing in the state.

On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills cracked those doors open a bit more by announcing that residents of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut would no longer be required to receive a COVID-19 test or quarantine in Maine for 14 days because of low rates of the virus in those previously hard-hit states. Residents of those states joined their counterparts from New Hampshire and Vermont in being exempt from the testing or quarantine requirements.

Most businesses are now allowed to be open in Maine, albeit with restrictions in many cases.

Restaurants statewide were allowed to resume indoor service last month as long as they space patrons out and follow a lengthy list of health and safety guidelines. Hotels, campgrounds and other lodging establishments were also permitted to resume accepting out-of-state guests but are expected to ensure that visitors from non-exempt states have either tested negative within the previous 72 hours or quarantined for 14 days in Maine. But industry representatives contend those requirements are too restrictive to lure many tourists from states where COVID-19 tests are more difficult to obtain.

Arcades, amusement parks, bowling alleys and entertainment venues were allowed to reopen with restrictions on July 1. But bars and brewery tasting rooms without restaurant licenses are still limited to outdoor service.

Mills is also expected to issue a new executive order in the coming days requiring large retailers, restaurants, tasting rooms and other businesses in most of Maine’s coastal counties to enforce the state’s face-covering requirement.


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