COVID-19 cases grow in Maine, which had kept virus at bay

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine has posted three consecutive days with more than 50 reported coronavirus cases for the first time since May.

The state’s total number of reported cases of coronavirus has increased by 57, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. The new cases reported on Tuesday brought the total reported coronavirus cases in Maine to 6,311, while the number of deaths remained at 146, Maine CDC said.

Maine CDC has reported four consecutive days with more than 50 coronavirus cases only once, from May 19-22.

Maine has a much lower rate of positive coronavirus cases than most of the rest of the U.S., but public health authorities cautioned the state's positivity rate is slowly growing.

Maine health authorities are battling an outbreak in Waldo County that is based around a church in Brooks and has sickened 60 people. Smaller, family- and community-level events have also helped the virus spread, Shah said.

He said the new cases are a reminder to take precautions and maintain social distance.

“What started out as us being scared turned into us being bewildered and has now settled on something close to fatigue,” Shah said. “Our response now will determine our success going forward.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic in Maine:

NURSING HOME OUTBREAK

Maine CDC has closed an investigation into an outbreak of the virus at a Madison nursing home that sickened 40 people and killed seven.

The outbreak at Maplecrest Rehabilitation and Living Center in Madison was linked to a larger outbreak that stemmed from a northern Maine wedding and reception.

Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said Tuesday the facility is working on a corrective action plan.

—-

STUDENT LOAN RELIEF

Maine's independent Sen. Angus King joined a group of 33 senators that called on education secretary Betsy DeVos to make sure student loan borrowers can access federal help. The senators said the U.S. Department of Education should help borrowers consolidate their loans, and work to improve the consolidation process.

The senators wrote that more than 8 million student loan borrowers “falling into donut holes of critical relief have missed out on needed benefits and suffered unnecessary complexity and confusion for more than six months.”