Maine had 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and there were no additional deaths, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The last recorded death was six days ago on June 17, bringing the total number of fatal cases to 102.
An additional 37 recoveries were reported, meaning active cases decreased from 463 on Monday to 449 on Tuesday.
To date, there have been 2,994 cases of COVID-19 in Maine, according to the Maine CDC.
For the seven-day period ending Tuesday, Maine averaged 23 new cases of COVID-19 per day, compared to a daily average in the low 50s peaking in late May.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the CDC of Maine, did not report to the media on Tuesday, but on Monday noted positive trends in reported cases and hospitalizations. Shah also noted that cases were increasing in other states and said Maine must remain vigilant.
A total of 337 Mainers have been hospitalized since the pandemic began, but hospitalizations have declined recently, with 24 people hospitalized on Tuesday, three fewer than on Monday.
Additionally, the cumulative positive test rate has decreased to 4.21 percent, down from 5 to 6 percent in April and May. With expanded testing, the number of positive cases has decreased, and the daily rate on Tuesday was 1.58 percent. The lower the positivity rate, the more likely it is that Maine health workers will find the majority of cases of the disease. This means that containment efforts, such as quarantining people with COVID-19 and their close contacts, are more likely to stop transmission of the virus.
Testing will increase again in July with the expansion of a partnership with Idexx Labs in Westbrook, giving Maine the ability to conduct around 35,000 tests weekly. That is more than seven times the previous capacity.
Despite the drop in cases, the Mills administration indefinitely postponed the reopening of interior service in bars and brewery tasting rooms on Monday, citing outbreaks linked to such establishments in other states.
Bars and brewery tasting rooms may continue to serve drinks outside, and restaurants that include bars may continue to seat customers at indoor tables as part of earlier phases of Maine’s economic reopening plan. The state liquor licensing agency has been working to speed up requests for bars looking to expand outdoors.
But state health officials said the nature of many bars increases the risk of transmission of the coronavirus that COVID-19 causes.
“The indoor bar service generally features crowds, often in close contact with each other, often without tables or other ways to keep people separate,” said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “The smaller spaces in many bars make physical distance very difficult. Also, people may be less likely to wear cloth covers on the bars. ”
The change affects Class A Lounge licensees, a group that includes bars and taverns that don’t have kitchens, as well as tasting rooms for breweries, distilleries, and wineries without restaurant licenses. Such businesses may still serve in outdoor areas, but may not yet resume indoor service.
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