State health officials reported another 29 coronavirus cases on Wednesday but no additional deaths as Maine continues to see relatively low COVID-19 rates compared to many other states.

The 29 new cases is higher than the rolling average of 24 cases for the previous seven-day period, but is well within the range of cases in recent weeks. To date, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 3,866 total confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 since mid-March.

The number of individuals with COVID-19 who have died held steady at 121 on Wednesday. The Maine CDC reported two additional deaths Tuesday: a woman in her 70s from Lincoln County and a man in his 70s from Androscoggin County.

Maine continues to have among the lowest infection and death rates in the nation from COVID-19, according to daily tracking and analysis by The New York Times. Maine has also escaped, to date, the surge in cases seen in many Southern and Western states.

As of Tuesday, Maine had an infection rate of 286 cases for every 100,000 residents, which was lower than every other state except Hawaii and Vermont. By comparison, the states that currently have the highest infection rates, Louisiana and Arizona, had 2,391 and 2,281 cases for every 100,000 residents, respectively, according to The New York Times.

After accounting for the 121 deaths and 3,336 people in Maine who had recovered from the disease, Maine CDC was reporting 409 active cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. That is an increase of nine cases from the previous day.

The Maine CDC reported Wednesday that 11 people with COVID-19 were hospitalized – a decrease of one – while eight individuals were being cared for in critical care units. Five individuals were connected to ventilators due to respiratory distress.

Statewide, there were 121 ICU beds and 261 ventilators available, indicating that Maine’s health care system is not experiencing the COVID-related strain seen in other parts of the country. The U.S. surpassed 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday, by far the largest death toll in the world, according to tracking from Johns Hopkins University.

In another sign of positive case trends, the administration of Gov. Janet Mills plans to increase the crowd size cap for outdoor gatherings from 50 to 100 effective Aug. 1. Last Friday, the state set new rules for outdoor spectator events that allow venues to host up to 200 people in separate sections of 50 each.

A man walks between the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine and Portland Museum of Art on Free Street on Monday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Public health officials contend that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities, although they continue to urge people to keep their distance from each other even outdoors and to wear face coverings at any gathering.

Indoor gatherings will still be limited to 50 people on Aug. 1.

Maine’s tourist towns are beginning to see more traffic from out-of-state visitors thanks, in part, to the Mills administration eliminating quarantine or testing requirements for residents of New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

The Mills administration has, to date, refused to lift those requirements for residents of Massachusetts because of case numbers there.

But Wednesday also brought gloomy projections about the economic toll in Maine from the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions on businesses, visitors and Mainers’ activities outside of the home.

The state Revenue Forecasting Committee projected a $523 million drop in tax revenues for the second year of the two-year, roughly $8 billion state budget. That fiscal year began on July 1, meaning the Mills administration and the Legislature’s budget-writing committee face a challenge as they work to bring the state budget into balance, as required.

Looking further into the future, the Revenue Forecasting Committee projected shortfalls of $433 million in fiscal 2022 and $449 million in fiscal 2023. Those figures show the economic pain of the coronavirus pandemic is expected to drag on for some time as the state slowly recovers from the recession.

 

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