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As of Tuesday evening, there are now 888 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in all of Maine’s counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The statewide death toll rose to 36 on Monday with the death of a resident of Cumberland County.
So far, 139 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Meanwhile, another 443 people have fully recovered from it, meaning there are 409 active cases in the state.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and its impact in Maine.
— Coronavirus hospitalizations in Maine slowed over the past week, potentially signaling that the state has passed a peak, but public health experts say that continued social distancing measures are still necessary to avoid a second wave.
—Even though everyone is practicing social distancing and isolation, making large gatherings impossible, birthdays should still be celebrated—especially if you’re turning 102. Here’s how a Belfast woman born during the 1918 flu pandemic celebrated her birthday.
—Due to the well-documented testing shortfalls in the U.S. throughout the pandemic, multiple companies are trying to develop tests to supplement those supplied by the CDC. The head of Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the agency is double-testing some negative coronavirus tests produced by a rapid-results kit after reports that the test may be among the least accurate in circulation. Research from the Cleveland Clinic medical center in Ohio found that the Scarborough-made Abbott Laboratories test kits have a false-negative rate of 15 percent, NPR reported Tuesday. That means the test could miss 15 out of 100 positive cases of the coronavirus.
—The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first in-home test for COVID-19 on Tuesday, permitting one company to sell kits that allow people to collect nasal swab specimens on their own. But despite limited capacity to test for COVID-19 in Maine, the state is proceeding carefully and reviewing how well the home collection kits work before promoting their use, Nirav Shah, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday afternoon.
—A group of state and nonprofit agencies Tuesday launched a new phone support service to provide emotional support to health care workers and first responders who are working on the frontlines responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Called the FrontLine WarmLine, the phone support service was launched to help Maine health care professionals and first responders deal with stress and anxiety related to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
— The state’s wild turkey hunting season will begin earlier than planned this year and will come with an important change in light of the pandemic: hunters will not have to register any harvested birds at tagging stations.
—Many courts have been forced to delay trials and other proceedings due to coronavirus restrictions. Those restrictions have forced the postponement of the trial of an Auburn man facing a murder charge from a Walmart parking lot shooting last summer, possibly until next year, the Lewiston Sun Journal reports.
—Joining many community institutions that have had to cancel broad swaths of planned events, Maine State Music Theatre in Brunswick has canceled its performance season because of the coronavirus. The Portland Press Herald reports that the theater has presented musicals at Pickard Theater on the Bowdoin College campus since 1959 and has never canceled more than an occasional single performance because of a power outage.
— Sales of single-family homes rose a modest amount in March, affected by the coronavirus pandemic though prices continued to be strong, according to data released Tuesday by the Maine Association of Realtors. Home sales rose a tepid 0.36 percent compared to March 2019. But the median sales price for the 1,124 homes sold was $227,950, up 8.55 percent over the year’s period.
— A nurse from an outside agency who worked at the Stillwater Health Care nursing home in Bangor has tested positive for the coronavirus, but no other cases have been detected there, according to an administrator. The positive case was reported as long-term facilities across the state are trying to avoid the COVID-19 outbreaks that have been reported at centers in Augusta, Belfast, Scarborough, Falmouth and Portland. Those outbreaks can occur rapidly in long-term care settings, where elderly residents live in close confines and are particularly vulnerable to the most damaging health effects of the virus.
—One of the many results of the pandemic: students around the country are unable to participate in traditional graduation ceremonies. But some teachers and administrators are trying to recognize their achievements in new ways. After loading up his car with the 12 lawn signs — one for each graduate — Veazie Community School Principal Matthew Cyr drove around town planting personalized signs in each soon-to-be graduate’s yard. His surprise gesture was intended to be a “pick-me-up” for the kids whose final year of junior high has been taken from them, Cyr said.
—Maine is the only U.S. state with a significant fishery for baby eels, which is one of the most lucrative marine resources in Maine. But prices have tumbled as fishermen grapple with the difficulty of working around constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
— There have been varying interpretations of what’s allowed under Portland’s restrictions on local businesses. Portland city councilors unanimously agreed Monday night to temporarily ease some of those restrictions on businesses deemed nonessential under the city’s coronavirus stay-at-home order in order to allay the confusion.
—One of the biggest concerns throughout the pandemic has been for those living in congregate situations such as nursing homes, retirement communities and prisons, due to the act that the virus can spread much more quickly among those in close quarters. Maine has released dozens of prisoners to prevent coronavirus’ spread. But advocates say more should be done.
— As of early Tuesday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 820,104 people across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as caused 44,228 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
— Elsewhere in New England, there have been 1,961 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 1,423 in Connecticut, 171 in Rhode Island, 42 in New Hampshire and 40 in Vermont.
Watch: Maine CDC press conference, April 21