The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported three new deaths and 25 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, raising the totals to 990 cases and 50 deaths at the tail end of a two-week leveling of the infection curve.

All three of the dead are women over 80, from Androscoggin, Franklin and Waldo counties, according to Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long.

“Maine CDC expresses condolences to the families, loved ones, and caregivers of these women,” Long said in an email Saturday.

A Portland Press Herald analysis on Friday indicated that the curve of hospitalizations in Maine had flattened or even declined in most areas for the second straight week, though those numbers don’t take into account recent increases in cases and deaths in long-term care facilities.

Subtracting numbers of people who have recovered – 519 – and died, there were 421 active cases as of Saturday. A total of 156 people have been hospitalized over the course of the pandemic, and 39 were still in hospitals on Saturday.

Public health officials say it’s too soon to say that Maine has reached its peak of cases, however.

“One thing I’ve learned is: Zealots and charlatans are always sure, but wise people have doubts. I have doubts,” Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said on Friday as Maine recorded 28 new confirmed cases and three deaths.

The apparent effectiveness of social-distancing measures, combined with uncertainty about when it will be safe to lift them, has complicated plans to reopen Maine’s economy.

Gov. Janet Mills this past week said her administration was closer to a plan for lifting restrictions in a gradual, evidence-based manner. But life “will not return to normal soon,” she warned on Thursday.

To stop the gap between reopening and the economic fallout of ongoing pandemic restrictions, Congress recently approved another $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans to employers to make payroll and keep workers in their jobs.

Thousands of Maine small businesses have received loans, but many others missed the deadline or learned they could be eligible only after the first round of funding was already gone. The anticipated release of more money has owners and lenders gearing up for a scramble.

Maine state officials are preparing to free up more aid directly to workers. Next week, the state expects to receive guidelines from the federal government that will allow self-employed workers and gig workers to apply for unemployment benefits. The Maine Department of Labor is also waiving the usual fact-finding interview for those applications.

County by county on Saturday, there were 41 cases in Androscoggin County, four in Aroostook, 434 in Cumberland, 27 in Franklin, nine in Hancock, 101 in Kennebec, 13 in Knox, 12 in Lincoln, 15 in Oxford, 52 in Penobscot, one in Piscataquis, 18 in Sagadahoc, 17 in Somerset, 48 in Waldo, two in Washington, and 194 in York.

Although some counties are reporting only a few cases, the Maine CDC has warned that numbers are likely being undercounted because of limited testing supplies. All Mainers should take precautions as though the virus is already in their communities, authorities say.

By age as of Saturday, only 2 percent of patients were under 20, while 10.5 percent were in their 20s, 10.7 percent were in their 30s, 13 percent were in their 40s, 19.4 percent were in their 50s, 17.3 percent were in their 60s, 14 percent were in their 70s, and 13 percent were over 80.

A recent Press Herald analysis indicates that Mainers over 80 are at high risk; they account for a small percentage of total cases but roughly 50 percent of deaths.

Women were still contracting COVID-19 at a higher rate than men, accounting for 53.8 percent of confirmed cases.

Maine’s hospital resources were still holding strong on Saturday. Out of 330 total intensive care unit beds, 155 were available around the state, and 17 were occupied by coronavirus patients. Of 315 ventilators, 294 were available and seven were breathing for COVID-19 patients. Alternative ventilators approved by the Food and Drug Administration totaled 394 statewide.

The Maine CDC has periodically been updating numbers of negative tests, adding context to the rising number of positive results. As of the most recent update, April 22, 16,784 people had tested negative for COVID-19.

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