Maine reported five new deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, the largest single-day total so far.

All five were residents of the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, one of several long-term care facilities that has seen an outbreak. The youngest was in his 50s; the oldest in his 90s.

“Each was a veteran, each served his country and we’d like to take a minute to honor that,” CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said at the start of his daily briefing.

Gov. Janet Mills joined Shah on Thursday and outlined her “vision” for reopening Maine’s economy. It included four guiding principles: “Protecting public health, maintaining health care readiness, building reliable and accessible testing and prioritizing public-private collaboration.”

“We all want life to return to normal as soon as it is safe to do so. Our hearts break to see closed storefronts and people struggling to make ends meet because of this crisis,” Mills said. “At the same time, we all know that reopening too soon and too aggressively is likely to cause a surge in COVID 19 cases, jeopardizing the lives of Maine people, overwhelming our healthcare system and further destabilizing the economy. None of us wants that.”

Mills did not, however, offer any specific timeline or say which specific criteria the state will use to make its decision. Many public health experts say a safe reopening is contingent on several key criteria, including at least a two-week decline in cases; widespread testing; a track-and-trace system for finding and isolating people who were exposed to the virus, and, if possible, an accurate antibody test to identify people who may be immune.

The governor did not say whether she would apply those criteria to her reopening plan, and in response to follow-up questions after the briefing, her office would not say whether the plan would incorporate those specific criteria.

With the five new deaths Thursday, Cumberland County has now seen 23 of the state’s 44 deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Additionally, there have now been 937 confirmed cases, an increase of 30 since Wednesday and the biggest single-day increase in a week. Nineteen of the new cases were in Cumberland County.

The state also reported that 30 additional people have recovered, bringing that total to 485. Active cases now stand at 408 and that number has been leveling off over the last week.

The number of new confirmed cases so far this week had been on average considerably lower than last week, but it’s likely still too early to conclude that Maine is on a downward trajectory. Over the last seven days, there have been 141 new confirmed cases, compared to 236 over the previous seven-day period and 184 new cases the week before that.

Three counties – Cumberland, York and Kennebec – have accounted for 75 percent of cases, but the actual number of people who have contracted the coronavirus is certainly much higher because not everyone is being tested.

Although new cases have been coming down slightly, the number of deaths is rising. Over the last 10 days, there have been 25 deaths, compared to 10 during the previous 10-day period. This is also the 10th consecutive day Maine has seen at least one death from COVID-19.

There have been more than 48,000 deaths nationwide – 15,000 in New York alone – and more than 850,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization. Globally, there were 2.6 million confirmed cases and nearly 176,000 deaths as of Thursday, the WHO reported.

In Maine, 150 people have been hospitalized at some point and there were 42 in the hospital as of Thursday, 18 in critical care and 11 on a ventilator.

Nursing homes have been hard hit both in the number of cases and in deaths, and the Scarborough veterans home is the latest example.

The state is still monitoring outbreaks at six long-term care facilities: the Augusta Center for Health and Rehabilitation, The Commons at Tall Pines in Belfast, the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, Falmouth By the Sea, The Cedars in Portland and Edgewood Rehabilitation and Living Center in Farmington, which was added Wednesday. Collectively, those facilities have seen more than 200 cases and 24 deaths.

As of Wednesday, there were 16,784 negative tests, which means Maine’s rate of positive tests is about 5.4 percent – considerably lower than some states and a sign, Shah has said, that the state is testing a broad swath of people.

Officials said testing likely needs to continue ramping up before any steps are taken to lift the stay-at-home order, which runs through April 30. Mills said Thursday that she has not decided whether to extend it or let it expire.

Maine remains in relatively good shape when it comes to critical care beds and ventilators. As of Thursday, there were 158 of 306 beds available across the state, as well as 281 of 333 ventilators available, plus 367 alternate ventilators.

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