The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 36 new cases of the novel coronavirus, a slight increase that coincided with a fall in hospitalizations around the state.

The report brings total cumulative cases in Maine to 2,757, of which 2,452 have been confirmed by testing and 305 are considered “probable” cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. No new deaths were reported, leaving that figure at 100.

Subtracting numbers of people who have recovered – 2,152 – and died, there were 505 active cases on Saturday.

Hospitalizations for coronavirus have continued to fall throughout Maine over the past week, even as more people are testing positive for the disease. The news bolsters hopes that Maine will be able to control the virus as it reopens.

In southern Maine, which has seen more cases than other parts of the state, major hospitals are far below their peaks of COVID-19 patients. Maine Medical Center in Portland had between eight and 11 patients during the week ending Thursday, down from a peak of 35 that the hospital reached twice, in early April and late May.

 

There were only 29 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across Maine on Saturday, compared to 60 just two weeks earlier.

Another key indicator, the total positivity rate for COVID-19 tests, has continued to fall even as testing capacity expands. Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said Saturday on Twitter that only 3.77 percent of tests conducted the day before had come up positive.

Meanwhile, the reopening has sparked conversations about how to divvy up relief funds, as well as who has the authority to guide individual reopening decisions, especially in school districts.

The Maine Department of Education this past week said it, and not individual districts, would decide how and when to bring students back to school.

Several superintendents, including those in Gorham and Freeport, said their teachers and students would much prefer to return to in-person learning. Going back to school may be possible, the department said, but only with a long list of precautions that includes face masks, rigorous cleaning, physical distancing, and added ventilation to bring outside air into classrooms.

As the normally lucrative summer vacation season gets underway, tourism and hospitality industry leaders are asking for a significant piece of the federal aid intended to pay for Maine’s coronavirus costs.

On Friday, the industry pitched an $800 million bailout plan that would take the bulk of a $1.25 billion federal relief package to revive the state’s tourism industry, which has been devastated by travel and gathering restrictions, as well as the general economic fallout.

Gov. Janet Mills said she welcomed proposals from all industry leaders about how to use the funds. On Friday, she also bumped up a deadline to reopen paid lodging around the state, pushing it five days earlier to June 26.

Nationwide, the vast majority of Americans are sticking to precautions such as face masks and social distancing, even as parts of the country continue to reopen, a new study has found. Roughly 90 percent of people are wearing masks when they go outside, according to a poll from NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation.

County by county in Maine on Saturday, there were 419 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 10 in Aroostook, 1,414 in Cumberland, 37 in Franklin, 13 in Hancock, 136 in Kennebec, 22 in Knox, 21 in Lincoln, 31 in Oxford, 102 in Penobscot, one in Piscataquis, 30 in Sagadahoc, 25 in Somerset, 55 in Waldo, one in Washington, and 438 in York.

By age, 6.4 percent of patients were under 20, while 15.1 percent were in their 20s, another 15.1 percent were in their 30s, 15.7 percent were in their 40s, 17.1 percent were in their 50s, 12.4 percent were in their 60s, 9 percent were in their 70s, and 9.2 percent were 80 or older.

Women still are the majority of cases, at 51.3 percent.

Of the 29 patients in Maine hospitals with COVID-19 on Saturday, 10 were in intensive care and four were on ventilators. The state had 168 intensive care unit beds available of a total 395, and 254 ventilators available of 318. There were also 441 alternative ventilators statewide.

Around the world on Saturday, there were 7.7 million cases of COVID-19 and 427,000 deaths. The United States led other countries with more than 2 million cases and 115,000 deaths.

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