Pedestrians cross East Grand Avenue in Old Orchard Beach on Saturday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Maine reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and one more death.

Eight cases were removed from Tuesday’s numbers, so the net increase to the state’s total number of cases Wednesday was 17. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention updates previously released numbers for various reasons, most commonly if a probable case is later found to be negative.

Meanwhile, 32 more Mainers have recovered from the disease, bringing active cases down from 428 to 412.

Overall, 3,992 Mainers have fallen ill with COVID-19, 124 have died, and 3,456 have recovered. The death reported Wednesday was a man in his 70s from Cumberland County, the Maine CDC said.

Also Wednesday, Maine Gov. Janet Mills extended the state of civil emergency through Sept. 3. Mills initially declared an emergency in March, an action that must be renewed in 30-day increments. The declarations give Mills the authority to draw from federal resources and broad powers to impose public health measures, such as making mask wearing mandatory in indoor public places.

“Maine people have taken the tough but necessary steps to protect the health and safety of us all, and it is their actions that are allowing our economy to reopen in a gradual and safe manner,” Mills said in a statement.

Cases peaked in Maine in late May, when the daily average of new cases topped 50. There was a slight spike in late June as well, when daily cases averaged near 40, but the numbers declined in July and now average about 20 per day.

Another key metric, the positivity rate, continues to fall in Maine. The seven-day daily average for positive test results stands at 0.8 percent, the second-lowest in the country. Only Vermont was lower at 0.4 percent, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The national average is about 8 percent, and the states that are currently hardest hit, such as Alabama, Mississippi and Nevada, have positivity rates of 18 percent or higher.

When the rate of positive tests declines to very low levels – usually 2 percent or lower – that means state health officials are finding most cases of the disease, giving them a better chance of tracing close contacts and isolating those who are contagious. If almost all contagious cases are quarantined, transmission can be minimized. Maine’s cumulative positivity rate has fallen from about 6 percent in May to 2.6 percent on Wednesday.

A strategy of aggressive testing, tracing and isolating has been employed by several countries, including South Korea, which has successfully driven down cases. South Korea, with a population of 50 million, reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Maine is continuing to investigate three outbreaks in the blueberry industry, including four cases at Wyman’s in Milbridge, 10 at Hancock Foods in Ellsworth and nine cases at Merrill Farms in Hancock.

Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor reported Monday that at least 35 out-of-state visitors carrying COVID-19 have been on the island at some point this summer and could have spread the disease in the community. Because of lengthy delays at major national test processors, tourists didn’t learn they had tested positive until they were already traveling in Maine.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said Tuesday that visitors to Maine from other states should quarantine until they get their test results back. The state agency has been working with the hospital on contact tracing.

“Our guidance is clear: If you are coming to Maine before you have a negative test result in hand, you should absolutely be quarantined,” Shah said. “If individuals follow that, the theoretical contacts with Maine people should be really low.”

Since the pandemic began, the Maine CDC has tracked 170 positive test results from out-of-state people. Shah said many of the 170 live in New Hampshire and may receive health care in Maine.

Also Wednesday, the Maine CDC reported current hospitalizations ticked down from 12 Tuesday to 10 on Wednesday, including four in intensive care units.

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