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Real-time Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 updates: Bar reopenings delayed

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Monday, June 22, 2020.



Over the weekend, the Maine CDC became aware of four paramedic/EMS personnel from the Houlton Ambulance Service who tested positive for COVID-19. One person who was transported via ambulance has tested positive, and another four people who were in close contact with the positive EMS personnel have tested positive, for a total of nine individuals associated with the outbreak. 

Given the potential of exposure of the residents of the area, the Maine CDC worked quickly to set up a testing site at Houlton Regional Hospital to provide testing services on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The Maine CDC recommends that anyone who had physical contact with anyone from the Houlton Ambulance Service between June 8 and now to register for testing at that site. Testing is available free of charge. 

RELATED: Precautions underway for a second possible Aroostook County COVID-19 exposure

Dr. Shah said the downward trend of reported cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks is encouraging but at the same time, there are parts of the country that are experiencing record-numbers of cases. Dr. Shah said for those reasons, the Maine CDC is remaining vigilant on the possibility of an uptick in cases in Maine. 

He asks that everyone continue to wear face coverings when out in public, as it's one of the surest ways to reduce the likelihood of transmission. 

"To protect public health," Gov. Janet Mills Administration says the reopening of bars for indoor service is delayed across Maine. Bars have been able to reopen for outdoor service and were tentatively scheduled to reopen for indoor service on July 1 as part of Stage 3 of the Restarting Maine's Economy Plan. 

The Mills administration says, however, that given the elevated health risk presented by bars, the timeline to allow indoor service is postponed "until further notice."

Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said she thinks compared to other states with similar types of epidemiology related to COVID-19, Maine's reopening plan for bars fares well. 

Lambrew said the State's been working with bars and restaurants to expand outdoor seating capacities in order to make dining safe as well as beneficial from a business standpoint. 

Rewatch the briefing here:



Dr. Nirav Shah made clear that when the Maine CDC reports deaths, they are reporting that someone has died who had been confirmed positive with COVID-19, not the cause of death specifically. The cause of death determination is left to the medical examiner.  

According to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, as of a few days ago, there were roughly 2,900 Mainers tested each week. This includes people tested through the state lab in Augusta, as well as large commercial testing companies like LabCorp. Dr. Shah said right now, the positivity rate is over 5%, meaning for every 100 people tested, about 5 or 6 are positive. Compared to other states, whose positivity rates are 10 or 15%, Maine is doing better, Dr. Shah says. He says he'd like to see Maine's positivity rate around 2%, which is what South Korea's is. To do that, Dr. Shah says testing must increase two or three-fold.


Coronavirus, COVID-19 Background 

The official name for the coronavirus is “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is named “coronavirus disease 2019” or “COVID-19” for short. Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which can infect people and animals. The viruses can cause the common cold or more serious diseases like SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

The CDC says symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and in some cases sore throat.

The CDC says there are simple steps to take to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay home while you're sick and avoid close contact with others
  • The Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced on Tuesday, March 10 that they would be holding daily coronavirus briefings with director Dr. Nirav Shah to keep the public up to date on the situation in Maine.

NEWS CENTER Maine YouTube Coronavirus Playlist

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