Maine CDC reports 13 more coronavirus cases, one death

State health officials reported 13 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday as well as one additional death in Maine.

To date, 888 people statewide have tested positive for the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, although health officials acknowledge the number of individuals who have contracted the virus is much higher. At least 36 individuals have died from the disease, according to the latest figures from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of active coronavirus cases in Maine — calculated by subtracting deaths and recoveries from the case total — decreased by 17 and stood at 409 on Tuesday. Monday was the first day since March 20 that the number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases was held to the single digits.

The Maine CDC reported that 443 people have recovered from the COVID-19 and have been released from isolation. It’s the first time the number of people who have recovered is higher than the number of active cases.

Forty people were hospitalized from the illness as of Tuesday, with 16 of those patients being cared for in intensive care units. Among those patients, eight were hooked up to ventilators to assist their breathing after suffering respiratory failure.

Maine hospitals had a total of 317 intensive care beds on Tuesday, of which 149 were available, and a total of 336 ventilators, of which 281 were available. The state also has 369 alternative ventilators, according to the CDC.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, is scheduled to hold his daily briefing on the coronavirus situation at 2 p.m.

There is an ongoing debate in Maine and across the country about when governors will be able to lift the stay-at-home orders and other restricti ons on individuals and businesses in order to begin “reopening” the economy. A key part of that equation, public health officials say, will be ramping up states’ testing capacity to better document infection rates.

Yet there appears to be a disconnect between governors and the White House — and particularly with President Trump — over the role the federal government should play in ramping up testing and states’ current capacity to conduct those tests.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills’ office said late Monday that an email from the White House providing a state-by-state breakdown of states’ testing capacity “does not appear to be accurate and is not representative of testing capacity within Maine – a concern shared by several other Governors with respect to their states.”

“This inaccurate document aside, what Maine needs most right is support from the Federal government to expand testing in a significant and meaningful way, including delivery of additional testing supplies,” Mills spokeswoman Lindsay Crete said in a statement. “In the meantime, the state will continue do its best to work with the Federal government and private vendors to obtain needed testing materials.”

Cumberland County remains the hotspot for COVID-19 in Maine, with 386 confirmed cases and 17 deaths, followed by York County with 186 cases and six deaths. The two counties added eight new confirmed cases between Monday and Tuesday but 17 people were added to the recovered list in Cumberland and York counties.

Meanwhile, Waldo County held steady with 43 total cases, eight deaths and five recoveries. The Tall Pines nursing home in Belfast has been the hardest-hit congregate care facility in the state, reporting eight deaths among the 38 confirmed cases there.

Maine has, to date, experienced lower infection and death rates per capita than many other states, according to COVID-19 tracking and analysis by The New York Times. But Maine is also believed to be behind most other northeastern states along the “curve” of the disease, which has an incubation period of up to 14 days.

As of Monday, Maine had a confirmed infection rate of 65 people for every 100,000 residents, placing the state in the bottom fifth nationally. The rate in New York, by comparison, was 1,272 cases among every 100,000 people while Massachusetts stood at 575 cases for every 100,000 residents, according to the newspaper’s tracking system.

Maine and New Hampshire have had three deaths per 100,000 people compared to 37 deaths per 100,000 Connecticut residents and 26 deaths for every 100,000 residents of Massachusetts.