Maine reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 cases and no additional deaths Friday, as the state moves closer to a wider reopening on July 1.
Overall, there have been 2,913 COVID-19 cases in Maine since the pandemic began, and 102 deaths. Recoveries increased by 23, but with cases outpacing recoveries on Friday, active cases inched up from 476 on Thursday to 488 on Friday.
Friday’s numbers follow 42 additional coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest daily total in a week. However, the daily average is still trending downward.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, will brief the media at 2 p.m.
Maine is set to move to the third stage of re-opening on July 1, although Shah said earlier this week that Maine may delay re-openings of bars since they pose a higher risk.
Other potential re-openings July 1 include charter boats, overnight summer camps, spas and massage therapy.
Maine’s 7-day average peaked at about 52 cases in late May and has been coming down since. The same has been true of COVID-19 related hospitalizations. In all, 327 people have been hospitalized at some point through Friday, including 27 who were in the hospital on Thursday.
As important as the weekly case and hospitalization average is the state’s positivity rate, which also is decreasing. This is a sign that the state has been testing more people and a broader swath of people with increased capacity. There have now been more than 80,000 tests conducted, including the traditional swab test and antibody tests, and the percentage that have come back positive is 4.32 percent. That has dropped by nearly two percentage points in a little more than a month, according to the Maine CDC.
The trends are positive but will be watched closely in the coming days. On Wednesday, restaurants opened for indoor dining everywhere and fitness centers, nail salons, tattoo parlors and brewery tasting rooms were permitted to open as well, as long as the facilities follow health and safety guidelines designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 infection.
Shah said Wednesday that bars present additional challenges because they can be jammed with people talking loudly. Loud talking or singing create a higher risk of expanding the range of respiratory droplets containing the virus, making it more likely they will pass from one person to another, especially without proper distancing and widespread face coverings.
Shah said outbreaks involving dozens of customers and employees at bars in Jacksonville, Florida, and Boise, Idaho, show how easily the novel coronavirus can spread in such places.
States that have reopened their economies ahead of Maine are starting to see record numbers of new cases. Florida, for example, recorded 3,207 new cases Thursday, a record single-day total.
Nationally, new cases are rising outside of the Northeast, and the United States has experienced more than 120,000 deaths.
This story will be updated.