A woman walks past a market in the Old Port in Portland last week. Staff photo by Derek Davis Buy this Photo

Maine reported 38 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the highest daily total in two weeks, and one new death.

The state has now tracked 3,636 confirmed and probable cases since the pandemic hit Maine in mid-March and 115 have died with COVID-19. The latest death was a woman in her 80s in Penobscot County, the fifth death in that county.

Friday’s case total is the highest since July 3, when 45 new cases were reported. Still, the 10-day average is about 20 cases, down from an average of 29 over the previous 10-day period.

At least 11 of the new cases Friday are associated with an outbreak at American Roots, a clothing manufacturer in Westbrook that has been making personal protective equipment since April. State health officials are investigating the origin of that outbreak, but all employees have been tested and the facility has shut down multiple times for thorough cleaning.

Co-owner Ben Waxman said Thursday that he’s proud of how his employees have handled the outbreak, and he praised the cooperation of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

The state is watching two smaller outbreaks as well – at Corsetti’s Market in Westbrook and at the Goodwill Northern New England warehouse in Gorham, both of which have seen three cases. There were no new cases reported Friday from an outbreak at Cumberland County Jail.

The number of active cases in Maine now sits at 407, which is up from 390 on Thursday. State health officials have been cautioning for several weeks that although numbers have remained low here, vigilance is still needed.

“The people of Maine, all of us, have done an exemplary job keeping a lid on COVID-19, but that could change if we let up and let down our guard,” Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Thursday.

In other parts of the country, particularly southern and western states, cases have spiked dramatically, forcing some to reinstate restrictions and others to call for mandatory wearing of face coverings in public. The United States logged more than 77,000 new cases on Thursday, which was a record. The number of daily cases has now more than doubled since June 24. Some states, including Texas and Florida, are seeing record numbers of deaths as well.

States also are seeing hospitals fill up with COVID-19 patients and fear running out of room if things worsen. In Maine, 375 people have been hospitalized at some point during the pandemic but there were only 12 individuals in a hospital as of Friday, one fewer than Thursday. The number of hospitalizations has been decreasing gradually since peaking in late-May, which means the state’s resources are not stretched at the moment.

Maine also continues to increase testing capacity, most recently with the creation of 18 “swab and send” sites across the state. As of Friday, the state has conducted more than 133,000 COVID-19 swab tests, equivalent to about 10 percent of the population. Maine’s overall positivity rate is just over 3 percent, far lower than most states.

More recently, though, the positivity rate has been even lower. Of the nearly 3,000 tests processed Thursday, just 1.28 percent came back positive and the 7-day average is 1.16 percent, according to the CDC. Over the last 30 days, Maine has increased its daily testing volume by 48 percent and is one of only 11 states currently meeting its testing target, as defined by the federal CDC.

 

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