The sign at the State Theatre in Portland reads “We Love You. But Please-Stay Home.” Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday confirmed 55 cases of COVID-19 at an Augusta health facility on a weekend that saw two deaths and a rash of cases in long-term care facilities.

The public health agency reported that 41 residents and 14 staff members at the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. That was a big leap in cases since Friday, when the Maine CDC reported only four at the facility.

But officials did not say how many of the 55 Augusta cases had already been reported elsewhere, so it was unclear how many total cases Maine had on Sunday afternoon.

The new Augusta cases weren’t reflected in the Maine CDC’s daily roundup for Sunday, which listed only 17 new cases for a total of 633 since the outbreak began in Maine. They will appear on the agency’s website Monday, a spokesman said.

One resident of the Augusta facility who tested positive for COVID-19 died before this weekend, the Maine CDC said in a statement Sunday afternoon. After the first case of COVID-19 was discovered, the agency helped test all residents and staff, which revealed the spread of the disease more fully.

Meanwhile, the Maine CDC has provided more personal protective equipment, or PPE, to the Augusta facility, and plans to hold a special webinar for long-term care providers this week to bolster their infection control preparedness.


Sunday’s numbers made for a significant spike in cases over the weekend, added to the 30 additional cases on Saturday, when the total was 616. Still, much of the increase comes from testing at one location, and health officials have repeatedly cautioned that changes over a day or two aren’t representative of an outbreak’s overall progress.

The virus claimed its 19th life in Maine on Saturday, with two deaths that included a resident of the Maine Veterans’ Homes facility in Scarborough.

Six staff members and three residents of the Scarborough veterans home tested positive for COVID-19, including the resident who died, a man in his 70s.

In Belfast, Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Community reported 22 cases on Friday, up from 13 on Thursday. That evening, OceanView at Falmouth reported its 11th case, and urged community members to take strict precautions.

The rise in cases at care facilities came as a snowstorm knocked out power to about 200,000 Mainers on Thursday night. On Sunday, Central Maine Power had restored service to tens of thousands, and said the vast majority should have it back by that night.

“Times remain challenging,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said on Twitter Sunday. “One storm is behind us; another is coming. Many are still without power. And yet, health care workers in Maine continue to put themselves in the path of coronavirus. They care for Maine people in this time of need.”


Cumberland County had 292 known cases as of Sunday, and York County had 144. Both counties have seen evidence of community transmission.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills, senior vice president of community health for MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Medical Center, said in a Facebook post Sunday that there are some trends in Maine that suggest the state is “flattening” the curve to slow the spread of the virus.

Mills said the doubling time, which is the time it takes for total cases to double, was about two to five days at the end of March in Maine. But now, doubling time in Maine has extended to about 16-17 days as physical distancing efforts take effect.

“From an epidemiological standpoint, these dramatic rises in doubling times are astonishing. I’ve not been this excited about public health data in years,” Mills wrote.

But Mills also wrote that it doesn’t mean Maine should ease up on social distancing, as states that are too quick to loosen restrictions are vulnerable to a second surge in cases.

The coronavirus has reached every county in Maine but Piscataquis, the least populous, but health officials warn that cases are likely being undercounted because testing supplies are limited. All Mainers should take precautions as though the pandemic has already reached their communities, authorities say.


County by county, there were 28 cases in Androscoggin as of Sunday, two in Aroostook, eight in Franklin, five in Hancock, 32 in Kennebec, 10 in Knox, nine in Lincoln, 13 in Oxford, 34 in Penobscot, 15 in Sagadahoc, eight in Somerset, 29 in Waldo and one in Washington.

Infection rates continue to be roughly equal by sex; 51 percent of confirmed cases are in females, according to the Maine CDC.

By age, 2.4 percent of patients are under 20, 9 percent are in their 20s, 10.4 percent are in their 30s, 15.3 percent are in their 40s, 20.7 percent are in their 50s, 18.6 percent are in their 60s, 13.9 percent are in their 70s, and 9.6 percent are in their 80s.

Gov. Janet Mills and public health officials continue to urge Mainers to stay indoors and take precautions such as physical distancing and hand washing. On Friday, Mills announced that she would move primary elections to July 14 from June 9, and was also considering an executive order to curb evictions during the pandemic.

With strict stay-at-home restrictions in place to curb the virus’s spread, many churches resorted to online services on Easter Sunday. Mills added a note of levity on Saturday by designating the Easter Bunny an “essential worker,” free to roam Maine dropping eggs for eager children.


In other measurements of Maine’s capacity to fight the virus, roughly half of the state’s intensive care unit beds were available on Sunday – 165 of 306, Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long said. Of those ICU beds, 22 were occupied by people with confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Another 36 COVID patients were in other hospital rooms. A total of 120 people have been hospitalized during the course of the outbreak, according to the Maine CDC.

Ventilators, the devices that breathe for patients with acute cases of COVID-19, totaled 334, and 267 were available. There were 232 alternative ventilators approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Maine CDC has had some difficulty counting numbers of negative tests for COVID-19, making it a challenge to put in context the rising numbers of cases. Officials at the public health agency say they’ve had trouble assembling accurate numbers from the many outside labs that send them results.

But on Sunday, Long said the Maine CDC was planning to tally negative cases at least once a week, to give outside labs a chance to catch up. The most recent tally for negative results is 11,608 patients, as of April 9, he said.

As of Sunday, 266 people had recovered from the disease in Maine.

Staff Writer Joe Lawlor contributed to this report.

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