The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 32 cases of the novel coronavirus and no new deaths, as the health agency continued an investigation into possible COVID-19 exposures resulting from indoor games held by a Maine hockey association.

The Maine CDC this past week announced it was investigating the possible exposure of roughly 400 people to a hockey referee who tested positive for COVID-19. The referee worked eight games in Maine and New Hampshire last weekend.

The Maine Amateur Hockey Association on Friday received a strongly worded letter from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services warning that it could face sanctions if it continued to play indoor games despite health recommendations to the contrary. The association later announced that it was canceling all games this weekend through Tuesday.

Maine’s cumulative cases rose to 5,696 on Saturday, representing a net increase of 30 cases since Friday. The reported number of new cases on Saturday – 32 – is higher than the difference in daily totals because the Maine CDC revises its numbers of cumulative total cases based on how many “probable” cases later test negative, and on the results of contact tracing investigations.

Of those 5,696 cumulative cases, 5,105 have been confirmed by testing and 591 are considered probable cases of COVID-19.

One hundred forty-three people have died with COVID-19 in Maine, and 4,951 have recovered from the disease. Maine had 602 active cases on Saturday.

State officials have declined to say whether the referee at the center of the investigation was asymptomatic at the time of the hockey games, citing patient privacy.

But the possible exposures have forced health agencies in Maine and New Hampshire to scramble contact tracers and reach out to hundreds of people to tell them to quarantine. Even if a person who was exposed to COVID-19 gets tested and the result is negative, that person still must quarantine for two weeks because the exposure means he or she could still get infected during the two-week period, a Maine CDC spokesman said Friday.

In the warning letter to the hockey association, Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the state will enforce its community sports guidelines with fines, if needed. Violation of an executive order is a Class E crime punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, she said.

Until now, the state has relied more on education to encourage individuals and organizations to comply with Gov. Janet Mills’ pandemic-era executive orders.

Meanwhile, some long-missed parts of Maine’s economy are set to reopen. Mills announced this past week that bars and tasting rooms may start serving indoor patrons on Nov. 2.

The new rules will allow bars, restaurants and other venues hosting indoor gatherings to expand to 50 percent of capacity, or 100 people, whichever is lower. The current indoor limit is 50 people.

Bars will have restrictions that make them look more like restaurants, keeping people to their tables in order to minimize contact between those not in the same party, however.

The University of Maine System on Saturday reported one new case of COVID-19, at the University of Maine in Orono. The new case is associated with a person already in isolation with COVID-19, officials said in a news release.

As of Saturday, the university system had seven active cases across all eight of its schools: two at the University of Maine at Augusta, four at the University of Maine, and one at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Meanwhile, five workers at L.L. Bean’s fulfillment center in Freeport have also tested positive for coronavirus, the company said Friday, according to the Associated Press.

County by county in Maine since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 799 COVID-19 cases in Androscoggin, 52 in Aroostook, 2,383 in Cumberland, 67 in Franklin, 55 in Hancock, 258 in Kennebec, 51 in Knox, 50 in Lincoln, 154 in Oxford, 268 in Penobscot, 10 in Piscataquis, 72 in Sagadahoc, 108 in Somerset, 79 in Waldo, 20 in Washington, and 1,269 in York.

By age, 12.2 percent of patients were under 20, while 16.6 percent were in their 20s, 15.2 percent were in their 30s, 14 percent were in their 40s, 16.1 percent were in their 50s, 11.6 percent were in their 60s, 7.3 percent were in their 70s, and 7 percent were 80 or over.

Women still make up a slight majority of cases, at just over 51 percent.

Effective Oct. 1, the Maine CDC says it will no longer update hospital capacity data on weekends. On Friday, Maine’s hospitals had seven patients with COVID-19, of whom five were in intensive care and none was on a ventilator. The state had 110 intensive care unit beds available of a total 385, and 243 ventilators available of 318. There were also 444 alternative ventilators.

Around the world late Saturday afternoon, there were 37 million known cases of COVID-19 and 1.06 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 7.6 million cases and over 214,000 deaths.


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