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Another two Maine residents have died from the new coronavirus, bringing the statewide death toll to 14.
Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for the Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday the two most recent deaths involved a woman in her 80s from Waldo County and a man in his 80s from Cumberland County.
“This is a good reminder that every single case that we talk about, every single hospitalization and, sadly, every single death is a person who was somebody’s spouse, son, daughter, mother, father, friend and community member, and we all mourn their passing,” Shah said via videoconference from the Maine Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Augusta.
Shah reported that there are now 537 confirmed cases spread across 15 of Maine’s counties. That represents a jump of 18 from Tuesday’s 519 cases.
[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]
Of those, 101 Maine residents have been hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, while another 187 have fully recovered from it.
A majority of the cases have been in Maine residents over age 50, while they are evenly split between women and men, according to the Maine CDC.
Shah said the Maine CDC is now able to return samples it receives for testing within 24 hours. That comes after his agency struggled in the early weeks of the outbreak with an “unacceptable” testing backlog that Shah announced last week had been cleared.
So far, the coronavirus has hit hardest in Cumberland County, where 262 cases have been confirmed and the bulk of the state’s deaths from the virus have been concentrated. It is one of only two counties — the other is York County, with 121 cases — where “community transmission” has been confirmed, according to Shah.
There are two criteria for establishing community transmission: at least 10 confirmed cases and that at least 25 percent of those are not connected to either known cases or travel. That second condition has not yet been “satisfied” in other counties.
Other cases have been detected in Androscoggin (23), Aroostook (2), Franklin (5), Hancock (3), Kennebec (26), Knox (9), Lincoln (9), Oxford (12), Penobscot (31), Sagadahoc (13), Somerset (5), Waldo (7) and Washington (1) counties. Information about where another eight cases were detected was not immediately available Wednesday morning.
The only county without a confirmed case is Piscataquis.
Shah acknowledged that life all across the state has been “completely upended” since the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed almost four weeks ago. He noted as well that social distancing guidelines have been “disruptive,” but that the “personal sacrifices” Maine residents have made are meant to “save lives.”
“What’s been remarkable is not simply how much has changed but how quickly it has all changed. Changes to our lives that were utterly inconceivable a month ago are now commonplace and have been accepted by people all across Maine,” Shah said.
As of noon Wednesday, the coronavirus has sickened 401,166 people in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as caused 12,936 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
Watch: How does COVID-19 spread?