Maine reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and no additional deaths.

Nine cases were removed from previous totals calculated by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, so the net increase on Thursday is five cases. The Maine CDC adjusts previous reports based on new information, most commonly if probable cases are instead determined to be negative. Nineteen more Mainers have recovered from COVID-19, bringing recoveries to 3,475 since the pandemic began.

Overall, 3,997 have fallen ill with COVID-19, 124 have died and there are currently 398 active cases.

Maine trails only Vermont with the lowest prevalence of COVID-19, when looking at a seven-day average of new cases, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. Maine has a rate of 1.5 cases per 1,000 population over the last seven days (excluding Thursday), while Vermont has the lowest rate in the country at 0.6 cases per 1,000.

Dr.  Nirav Shah, the Maine CDC director, said in a media briefing that Monday and Thursday had net increases of only five cases.

“That is an encouraging sign,” Shah said. “Maine people have taken to heart to wear face coverings and stay physically distant from others.”

Public health experts say low rates combined with a rigorous testing, tracing and quarantine strategy can halt transmission of the virus and allow for gradual reopenings.

States with the highest levels of COVID-19 – such as Florida, Mississippi, Nevada and Louisiana – have case rates of 30 per 1,000 or higher.

Testing rates in Maine have remained relatively flat at about 170 tests per 100,000, and Shah said he’s not sure why, although there could be a combination of factors. With lower disease prevalence, perhaps fewer people are seeking tests, and delays from national laboratories may also play a role.

Maine is still working to get all 22 of its “swab-and-send” locations running, and once they start up, testing capacity will further expand.

The swab-and-send sites are designed to be a way for Maine residents to quickly get tested and have results within two days. So far, eight of the sites have opened, including most recently at the Westbrook Public Safety building. The other locations are in Fort Kent, Bar Harbor, Augusta, Brewer, Old Town, Belfast and Calais.

Shah said some nearby states have recently seen upticks in COVID-19 cases, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

“There are still large fires of COVID-19 burning across the country,” Shah said. “More recently, more fires are moving closer and closer to Maine.”

Still, Shah said, the low prevalence of the virus may allow Maine to do more than other states, such as reopening schools and some high school sports. Many states are shifting to all-remote learning as virus cases expand, and some states have moved contact sports, such as football and soccer, to 2021.

Shah said discussions are still underway with the Maine Principals’ Association, local athletic officials and state health and education authorities on how to handle fall sports. He said sports benefit students, but contact sports “do bring risks with them.”

The Maine CDC also reported a new outbreak at the Pine Point Center assisted living center in Scarborough, where two residents and two staff members have tested positive.

Hospitalizations remained low on Thursday, with 11 people currently in the hospital, including three in intensive care units.

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