Maine’s top health officer reported 28 new confirmed coronavirus cases and three additional deaths Friday but stressed that although his team is closely monitoring all trends associated with the outbreak, he couldn’t predict when the state would reach a peak.

“Outbreaks are almost by definition unpredictable,” said Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah. “What I know for sure is that we’re still in the thick of things. There are lots of folks making predictions. One thing I’ve learned is: Zealots and charlatans are always sure, but wise people have doubts. I have doubts.”

Maine now has 965 confirmed cases and 47 people have died from COVID-19 complications since the first death almost one month ago.

In addition to the new cases, 14 more people have recovered, bringing that total to 499. The number of active cases, 419, is up slightly from Thursday.

Shah stressed that it’s still difficult to draw conclusions about Maine’s numbers, in part because testing remains limited, although capacity has continued to ramp up.

Asked how he would advise Gov. Janet Mills on extending or letting expire her stay-at-home order, which runs through April 30, Shah said “thinking about a particular policy position even seven days from now, which is not a lot of time, is really challenging.”

Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman joined Shah for the first time Friday to talk about the state’s unemployment system and the steps her team is taking to improve that process for individuals. She said by next week, the state will have final guidelines from the federal government that will allow self-employed and so-called gig economy workers to apply. Fortman also said the labor department is waiving the fact-finding interview that normally accompanies unemployment applications.

“We’re working as quickly as possible to get (unemployment) benefits out,” she said, noting that two-thirds of all applicants so far have been approved.

The massive economic impact of the outbreak, as demonstrated by the number of unemployed Mainers, has put pressure on the governor to reopen the state. On Thursday, she said her administration is moving closer to a plan for reopening the economy in a cautious, gradual manner, but she also warned that life “will not return to normal soon.”

“The approach we take is defined by flexibility, practicality, listening and continued communication,” she said Thursday while talking about her guidelines for reopening the state. “It’s not measured by hard lines, or fixed timetables or dubious deadlines.”

There is broad consensus among public health experts on four critical conditions for a safe reopening: at least two weeks of declining case numbers, widespread access to testing, a track-and-trace system to find and isolate people who may have been exposed to the virus, and, if available, an accurate antibody test to determine who may be immune.

Mills has not committed firmly to those points but said the Maine CDC is developing criteria that will be finalized and released soon. She also has said she wants input from the business community on how to reopen safely and she announced Thursday the creation of an online portal through the Department of Economic and Community Development.

So far, 152 people have been hospitalized at some point because of COVID-19 and 39 remained hospitalized as of Friday, 17 in critical care and seven on ventilators.

Over the last 10 days, the state has seen an average of 23 new cases per day, compared to an average of 28 over the previous 10-day period. However, the last 10 days have seen a total of 27 deaths, compared to 10 over the previous 10-day period.

The three deaths reported Friday were: a man in his 60s from York County; a man in his 70s from Cumberland County and a woman in her 90s from Kennebec County.

Long-term care facilities continue to see a high number of cases (211 residents and staff) and deaths (25), including five new deaths reported Thursday at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough and another on Friday.

The latest outbreak, at Edgewood Rehabilitation and Living Center in Farmington, saw 10 new cases from Thursday to Friday, which was expected, Shah said, because the state implemented universal testing there.

Also Friday, Shah announced a new category the state is tracking – probable cases. All 50 states are using the same definition for probable cases, but Shah said the most likely are spouses of someone who tested positive, but whom doctors decided not to test.

Shah said of the 965 cases in Maine so far, only two are probable cases, but he expected that number to rise as more people are counted who previously were not.

Health-care workers account for 25 percent of all confirmed cases (238), although that number is skewed because they are more likely to be tested.

In addition to the confirmed cases, Maine had processed 16,784 negative tests as of Wednesday. Because of the number of outside labs that are testing samples from Maine, the state updates negative tests only once a week.

Maine remains in good shape when it comes to critical care beds and ventilators. As of Friday, there were 159 of 313 beds available across the state, as well as 287 of 314 ventilators available, plus 394 alternate ventilators.

Shah said Friday that he understands why so many people want to know where the state is in terms of the outbreak, but he said he couldn’t answer that.

“We’re only going to know about the peak when we look back,” he said.

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