Three more people, each a resident of a long-term care facility, have died from COVID-19 in Maine, bringing the state’s total to 39.

The deaths were announced by Dr. Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at his daily briefing Wednesday.

One woman in her 70s lived at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough. A man in his 80s and a woman in her 70s lived at The Commons at Tall Pines in Belfast.

In addition to the deaths, the CDC reported 19 new confirmed cases, for a total of 907, with 455 individuals recovered. That leaves 413 active cases and among those, 42 were hospitalized as of Wednesday, with 18 in critical care and 10 on a ventilator.

The number of active cases has been leveling off over the last week, which could be a sign that stay-at-home orders have been slowing the spread, that testing remains limited, or both. Over the last five days, there have been 80 confirmed cases, down from 194 over the previous five days.

Shah said Wednesday that even though he’d still like to see the state increase its testing capacity, he’s encouraged by Maine’s rate of positive tests, which is about 5 percent. Some states are seeing rates as high as 20 percent, he said.

“Lower is better. It means health care providers are casting a broad net,” he said. “But we know we need to expand our testing capacity. We want to get to a place where each health care provider can reasonably do testing irrespective of any constraints on resources.”

Confirmed cases have been reported in all 16 Maine counties, but Cumberland, York and Kennebec counties have accounted for 75 percent of the cases.

With two new deaths at the nursing home in Belfast, Waldo County now has 10 deaths attributed to COVID-19, the second most of any county. Cumberland County has seen the most deaths, with 18.

The state is still in good shape when it comes to critical care beds and ventilators. As of Wednesday, there were 170 of 314 beds available across the state, as well as 277 of 333 ventilators available, plus 367 alternate ventilators.

So far, 16,784 people in Maine have tested negative, up from 14,076 a week ago. Shah said the state is running about 100 tests per day.

Health officials continue to monitor outbreaks at several long-term care facilities, including: the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation, Tall Pines nursing home in Belfast, the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, Falmouth By the Sea and The Cedars in Portland. Those five facilities have reported 190 confirmed cases among residents and staff members, as well as 19 deaths.

Shah also announced Wednesday another long-term care facility that has seen an outbreak – Edgewood Rehabilitation and Living Center in Farmington. One staff member and two residents there have tested positive.

The CDC also confirmed that it’s investigating a possible outbreak at John F. Murphy Homes in Auburn, which operates several groups homes for adults with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

Approximately 1 in 4 confirmed cases to date, 222, have been health care workers, although that disproportionate share is likely due, in part, to the fact that healthcare professionals are among the top priorities for testing because of their higher risks of infection and transmitting the disease to others.

The outbreak has infected over 2.5 million people and killed about 180,000 around the world, including more than 45,000 in the U.S., according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University from official government figures, The Associated Press reported, noting that the true numbers are believed to be far higher.

Shah did say Wednesday, as he has many times before, that the number of confirmed cases in Maine does not represent how many cases there are. He said although the state uses modeling to estimate, those models are “all over the map.”

But Shah also said Maine has begun to institute a system for tracking people who haven’t been tested but might be positive, such as spouses of people who have tested positive.

Additionally, Maine could be in line to get as much at $16.3 million in federal funding for testing under the latest spending package that passed in the Senate late Tuesday but has not been voted on in the House.

Public health experts have said expanding testing is crucial before stay-at-home orders should be lifted.

Maine Sen. Angus King has been critical of the Trump administration’s response to states that are asking for help with testing supplies. Maine’s other senator, Susan Collins, has not been critical but said in a statement Wednesday that she supports widespread testing as “essential for helping medical professionals determine when it is safe to reopen the economy and for giving people the confidence to go back to school, sporting events, and other public forums.”

“Increasing testing should be a joint effort, but the federal government must play the leading role, especially when it comes to sourcing supplies,” Collins said. “States like Maine simply lack the resources to conduct the necessary number of tests on their own. We need to act now to scale up production.”

Asked Wednesday how Maine might spend the federal funding, Shah said it would go to more equipment, more chemicals needed to process tests, and more staff to run them and produce reports. He said so far Maine’s testing has been so-called “DNA/RNA testing,” but he expects the state to add another type of testing, known as antibody testing, that will require an investment.

Shah also was asked Wednesday how his office has been dealing with misinformation and conspiracy theories that have cropped up as the pandemic wears on. He shared one example where someone reached out to the CDC and asked if spending time in a high-temperature sauna would cure him.

“That’s more than misinformation, it’s downright dangerous,” Shah said. “Folks are looking for answers at a time when there aren’t many answers. … When people hear the phrase I don’t know, they will seek out security from someone who says I do know, even if that information is not grounded in science.”

He urged Maine people to seek out, whenever possible, reputable sources of information.

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