Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN
Doug Kavanaugh, senior deacon at All Souls Congregational Church, talks about the meaning behind the church ringing its bell for two minutes every Wednesday at 12:19 p.m. The church will continue the practice weekly, at least for the short term.
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Another two Mainers have died as health officials on Wednesday confirmed 28 more coronavirus cases have been detected in Maine.
There have now been 2,137 cases across all of Maine’s counties since the outbreak began here in March, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s up from 2,109 on Tuesday.
Of those cases, 1,914 have been confirmed positive, while 223 are likely positive, according to the Maine CDC.
[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]
The latest deaths involved two Cumberland County residents, bringing the statewide death toll to 81.
So far, 260 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Of those, 59 people are currently hospitalized, with 25 in critical care and 14 on ventilators.
Meanwhile, 1,357 people have fully recovered from the virus, meaning there are 699 active and likely cases in the state, according to the Maine CDC. That’s down from 712 on Tuesday.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus and Maine.
—Gov. Janet Mills delayed reopenings of indoor dining in three of Maine’s most populous counties on Wednesday, but another official softened the news with details of how those restaurants can expand outdoor seating by using tents or spaces only accessible through the restaurant.
—As Maine continues to expand testing for the coronavirus, the share of positive tests continues to drop, a good sign for the state’s overall trajectory despite increases in the rate of new cases and hospitalizations over the past few weeks. The increase in cases and hospitalizations comes as Maine continues resuming business activities.
—Now that the national death toll from COVID-19 has reached the 100,000 mark, including 81 dead in Maine as of Wednesday afternoon, many are reflecting on those somber numbers. Each Wednesday at 12:19 p.m. for the foreseeable future, All Souls Congregational Church and other Bangor churches will ring their church bells to honor the dead, the ill, the dislocated and the first responders. The noon hour has no significance, but the 19 symbolizes COVID-19.
— At least four workers at a Lewiston group home have tested positive for the coronavirus, making it the latest of Maine’s congregate living facilities to have a confirmed outbreak of the infection, according to state officials. The new outbreak was discovered at a facility run by Ubuntu Care, a Portland-based company that offers residential care in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties, according to its website.
—One of the three airlines that had submitted bids to provide Essential Air Service at Presque Isle International Airport has requested that the Department of Transportation withdraw its bid. Silver told the DOT it decided to withdraw because the “fallout” from the COVID-19 pandemic would have rendered services to and from Presque Isle unprofitable.
—Scammers who targeted Maine’s overwhelmed unemployment system may have filed thousands of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims worth millions of dollars, officials said Wednesday.
—The Maine Brewers’ Guild, issued a news release late Tuesday asking Gov. Janet Mills and other officials to allow breweries to reopen June 1 — in line with restaurants — rather than the current state mandate of July 1 for brewers without restaurant licenses. The guild also asked for the state to use the ability to reopen outdoors seating as a criterion rather than liquor license classifications, which are preventing brewers from using the outdoor seating they could open before the coronavirus pandemic spread. The guild said Vermont, New Hampshire and the city of Boston have prioritized reopening businesses with outdoor seating.
—A company that makes rapid-result tests to detect the new coronavirus plans to add a new production center in Westbrook. Abbott Laboratories is renovating and expanding a building that was used as a sporting goods distribution center. The building will be converted into a manufacturing facility for COVID-19 test kits.
—As of early Wednesday morning, the coronavirus has sickened 1,695,776 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 100,047 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
—Elsewhere in New England, there have been 6,473 coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts, 3,803 in Connecticut, 655 in Rhode Island, 214 in New Hampshire and 54 in Vermont.
Watch: Gov. Janet Mills, Maine CDC press conference, May 27