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Death toll rises to 170

Mills urges Mainers to avoid unnecessary gatherings

By Fran Gonzalez | Nov 18, 2020

Augusta — Gov. Janet Mills said Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention media briefing that across the state today there were a total of 146 new COVID-19 cases since yesterday. This translates, she said, to a new case diagnosed every six minutes.

Last month, the average hospitalization rate across the state was around 20 people, she said. Today there are more than four times that number in the hospital because of the disease. “It’s growing by the day,” she added.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said, on top of a spike in cases, four individuals died from complications associated with COVID-19. One was a woman in her 90s from Knox County; two were women both from York, one in her 80s, the other in her 90s; and was a one man in his 80s from Kennebec County. This makes 170 total deaths in Maine he said.

Mills said to consider whether it is absolutely necessary to hold gatherings with Thanksgiving fast approaching. If it is, she said, remember to wear a face covering inside or outside, wash hands and keep your distance. “This virus won’t take Thanksgiving off,” she said. “If you don’t absolutely have to go — don’t go.”

“Tell them no,” Mills said, speaking to parents of college students who may be returning home and wanting to reunite with high school friends.

Shah said in the past 30 days there have been 123 hospitalizations. Currently there are 85 people in the hospital which is 12 more than yesterday, he said. Out of that total, 30 are in intensive care units and 10 are on ventilators.

As of today, Shah said, six new outbreak investigations have been launched. One is at the BMW dealership in Westbrook, where four cases were reported; Bowdoin College in Brunswick reported three students and one staff member with the virus; and The Mooring on Foreside memory care facility in Cumberland Foreside reported two residents and one staffer.

Also the Berlin City automobile dealership in Portland reported three cases: Huntington Commons assisted living in Kennebunk reported four residents and four staffers; and Paris Elementary School reported three students with the disease.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew of the Department of Health and Human Services said a new swab-and-send site is opening at the University of Maine at Machias. Starting Nov. 23 and running until Jan. 26, people will be able to get tested for free without a referral from a health provider at this facility.

The campus will have the capacity to provide 150 tests per week, she said, and appointments are required. For more information or for a list of state-sponsored testing sites, visit maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine/keepmainehealthy/testing.

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