As of noon Wednesday, March 18, 30 Maine residents have been confirmed positive and 12 others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
AUGUSTA, Maine — The lesson was clear in Maine when the number of cases of the new coronavirus nearly doubled between Monday and Tuesday: The state will see more positive tests and society will continue to clamp down.
That has happened progressively and rapidly since the state’s first three cases were announced. That was Thursday, when schools were open and Gov. Janet Mills recommended stopping gatherings of 250 people. By Sunday, it was 50 people or 10 if vulnerable people are involved. This week, most schools closed and Maine was in an emergency state.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday there were 32 positive tests for the virus. Three were hospitalized as of Tuesday and since this week, officials have said they expect the number to climb.
“It’s important we manage expectations about what the future may hold,” Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah told reporters on Tuesday. “Additional cases in Maine are likely.”
State health officials have urged Mainers to follow public health recommendations, including practicing “social distancing” to slow the virus’ spread, while also advising them to stay calm. Shah advised that “panic is a paralytic” on Tuesday.
The response to the virus is radically transforming Maine life. Six of Maine’s biggest cities declared emergencies by Tuesday, with some including Portland, Bangor and Augusta ordering restaurants and bars to limit service. Yet many are finding ways to help others even as those who are hunkered down worry about the pandemic. More are worried about making ends meet.
In Bangor’s Fairmount neighborhood, parents of kids at home from school used a Facebook group to coordinate outdoor activities. On Tuesday, which was St. Patrick’s Day, residents put shamrocks in their windows and outside their homes for a scavenger hunt. Parents and their children walked or drove around the neighborhood, counting the shamrocks.
Joshua Moulton, owner of downtown Bangor’s Queen City Cinema Club, was heartened to find that between Saturday and Tuesday, customers purchased more than $500 in gift cards from his website after he announced he was closing temporarily.
Dalton Ingraham was hunkered down at his Belgrade home on Tuesday nearly two weeks after pulling his 6-year-old daughter with an autoimmune disorder from school. He said he was concerned that some aren’t taking it seriously enough as they continue to congregate — including by going to bars.
“We just need to drastically change ourselves for one or two months and then we’ll be alive,” he said.
Others have economic concerns. In Bangor on Tuesday, a day after school closures took effect, Randy Allard, a parent of two, was at Downeast School to pick up a packet of learning material. As a self-employed driver for Uber and Lyft, Allard said he is out of work. His wife, who cleans a Bangor church, continues to work, but Allard predicted she will stop getting paychecks.
“Eventually we’re going to run out of money,” Allard said. “Bills aren’t going to stop. Banks are still going to call me.”
BDN writers Emily Burnham and Eesha Pendharkar contributed to this report.