Shoppers at the Marden’s store in Scarborough are made aware of the state’s face mask requirement Thursday. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Maine reported 13 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday and no new deaths. The low case counts are a continuation of positive trends in Maine while the coronavirus is soaring in other parts of the country, especially Florida, Arizona and California.

Maine’s seven-day average of daily cases has fallen from 38.7 on July 3 to 18 on Friday, a sharp contrast to a worsening COVID-19 infection rate nationally.

The United States had more than 61,000 cases on Thursday, compared to about 25,000 cases per day in mid-June.

Overall, there have been 3,499 COVID-19 cases in Maine since the pandemic began and 111 deaths, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirty more Mainers have recovered from the disease, for a total of 2,931 recoveries since the pandemic began. Active cases declined from 474 on Thursday to 457 on Friday.

The media briefings conducted online by Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, will be shifted next week from a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule to Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2 p.m.

As testing has increased in Maine, the percent of tests that have returned positive is declining to among the lowest in the nation.

Shah said on Twitter Friday that Maine’s  “one-day point positivity rate was 0.64 percent. That brings our 7-day weighted average (positivity) rate to 0.95 percent – the first time it has been less than 1 percent.”

Vermont, Connecticut and New York have seven-day positivity rates similar to Maine’s. States with surging COVID-19 cases can return positivity rates of 15 to 20 percent or higher.

The positivity rate is one key metric that determines how well a state is doing in controlling the virus. The lower the positivity rate, the better chance state health workers have in halting transmission of the virus, because they are able to find most cases, track close contacts and isolate people who are contagious. That strategy – successfully used by South Korea and other countries – can clamp down on the virus and allow for more successful reopenings.

Current hospitalizations ticked down from 16 on Thursday to 15 on Friday. Seven patients were in critical care beds and four were on ventilators.

In another effort to keep the coronavirus from spreading,  Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday issued an executive order requiring businesses to enforce mask wearing in seven coastal counties, including Cumberland and York counties, and in the state’s more populous cities.

The order applies to large retail businesses, restaurants, outdoor bars, tasting rooms, and lodging establishments.

Also, casinos in Oxford and Bangor were given the green light to reopen with new safety measures in place.

“We are in the process of a phased reopening,” Jack Sours, the vice president and general manager of Oxford Casino, told the Sun Journal on Thursday. “We have a COVID checklist from the state. We have to go through the process to comply with that.”

Under the state’s checklist, the casino sections off its main hall into four quadrants of 50 people each, for a total of 200 customers at one time.

Sours told the Sun Journal that represents a 93 percent reduction in capacity for Oxford Casino.

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