Update: As of 10 a.m. Thursday there are now 376 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Maine. Read the latest story here.
As of Wednesday, there are now 344 confirmed cases of the coronavirus spread across 13 Maine counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
That includes a new case in Hancock County, where a spokeswoman for Mount Desert Island Hospital said a county resident there tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. A patient at Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital also has tested positive for the virus.
The death toll from the coronavirus has risen to seven, with two additional deaths in women in their 80s from Cumberland County confirmed on Wednesday. Five of the state’s deaths have happened there, with the others in Kennebec and York counties.
A stay-at-home order takes effect today for Maine residents (you can read more about it here). Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— The Maine CDC will provide an update on the coronavirus in the state later today. The BDN will livestream the briefing.
— The race is on to find a cure for the coronavirus. Testing is underway on a vaccine, but that could take 12 to 18 months. But an Orono scientist believes a potential cure could be found in the blood of Maine lobsters. Bob Bayer is looking for a bio-secure lab that is willing to test the lobster byproduct, which he is trying to use to treat warts, shingles and herpes, on the coronavirus.
— Meanwhile, the state is trying to find a way to more quickly get results from coronavirus tests to reduce wait time. Abbott Laboratories has announced a made-in-Maine coronavirus test kit that could produce results in minutes rather than days, and the Maine CDC plans to acquire at least 15 of the kits. But it has limitations. The machine that processes the test can only handle one test at a time, or four per hour. Traditional machines can handle 300 or more tests in a three-hour period.
— A Maine Department of Health and Human Services office in Lewiston is closing again after another employee there tested positive for the coronavirus. That comes days after it closed March 25 when an employee there tested positive. It had reopened Monday.
— The city of Portland is quarantining 38 people, who currently haven’t shown symptoms, at the Portland Expo following the second confirmed case of the coronavirus at the Oxford Street Shelter.
— Staff at Calais Regional Hospital recently had to ask local paramedics to stick a breathing tube down the windpipe of a critically ill patient after a doctor was unable to perform the lifesaving task himself. That case is among the reasons state officials are now raising alarm about the Down East hospital’s readiness to handle the spread of the coronavirus across Maine — a pandemic that is requiring many U.S. hospitals to intubate patients who can’t breath on their own.
— Anna Howard had hoped to have her mother and fiance in the delivery room when she gives birth to her first baby, due in less than a week. That may no longer be possible, as hospitals have tightened restrictions on visitors in the delivery room as one of many responses to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Mainers preparing to give birth during a global pandemic are trying to take control of a situation that falls more out of their hands every day.
— Most Wednesday mornings, the delicious smell of freshly-made doughnuts entices crowds of people to the Amish-run Community Market in Unity. But as with so many facets of life in Maine, doughnut day has been put on indefinite hold. It’s not the only change that the global pandemic has brought about, even in this unworldly general store on the side of the rural Thorndike Road. Although the Amish tend to eschew most aspects of the modern world, this is one that can’t be ignored or avoided.
— As of Wednesday afternoon, the virus has sickened 186,101 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 3.603 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 122 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 85 in Connecticut, 16 in Vermont, 10 in Rhode Island and four in New Hampshire.
— Legendary Jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, the father of fellow Jazz musicians Wynton and Branford Marsalis, has died from complications related to the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. He was 85. (If you need one, here’s your soundtrack.)