Maine coronavirus rates remain low; schools get aid

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The coronavirus hospitalization and positivity rates in Maine remain well below national averages despite recent outbreaks in the southern part of the state.

Maine has about one hospitalized patient per 100,000 residents, said Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday. The national average is nine per 100,000, he said.

The state's overall positivity rate of 0.6% is also well below the national average of about 5%, Shah said. However, the state is dealing with increased spread of the virus in York County, which is the site of several outbreaks, he said.

One of the outbreaks is at the York County jail and is linked to a larger outbreak stemming from a northern Maine wedding that has sickened more than 170 people and killed eight.

“It's everywhere, in wide circulation across the county,” Shah said. “We've got an ever-shrinking window to put a lid on what's happening in York County.”

A recent outbreak of three positive coronavirus cases stems from a chiropractic office in the York County city of Sanford, Shah said. The state is also investigating an outbreak of 12 cases at Sanford High School.

In other coronavirus-related developments:

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SCHOOL FUNDING

Maine school systems will receive another $164 million in federal coronavirus relief to help with health and safety protocols, the state's governor said.

Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said the money will be distributed to school systems using a weighted formula developed by the Maine Department of Education and school superintendents. The funds are in addition to $165 million provided earlier this year.

"This funding helps ensure that our schools are best equipped as they can be to meet the challenges they face now as well as any that may arise this fall," Mills said.

The first round of funding was heavily used for facility and technology upgrades needed to safely return to school, said Eileen King, executive director of the Maine School Superintendents Association. The second round will help school officials address “continued needs that arise from evolving and flexible plans,” she said.

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THE NUMBERS

An additional 43 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, the Maine Center for Disease Control said Thursday.

The total number of confirmed cases is more than 5,200, the Maine CDC said. The number of deaths remained 140. The average number of new cases per day increased to 38. It was 28 a week ago.

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 and death.