Maine recorded 38 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths on Friday, as the state’s expanding testing program adds to the daily count.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 35 more people have recovered from the disease, bringing total recoveries from 958 to 993 on Friday. Overall, there have been 1,603 cases of COVID-19 and 69 deaths.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, will brief the media at 2 p.m. today. He will be joined by Pender Makin, commissioner of the Maine Department of Education.
Meanwhile, the Mills administration pushed ahead with the phased reopening of the state’s economy, announcing Thursday that hotels and other lodging businesses can begin accepting reservations from residents or non-residents for June 1 or later. But that announcement did not include changes to a controversial 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors.
The 38 new cases come a day after the 50 new cases reported Thursday, which represented the largest jump in a week and occurs at a time when the Maine CDC lab is significantly increasing its testing capacity.
About half of the 69 deaths were residents of nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. After accounting for those deaths and the 993 people who have recovered from the disease, there were 541 active cases, an increase of three from Thursday.
While Shah said on Thursday that the rise in cases is concerning, he said Maine’s increased testing capacity is likely helping to drive those figures.
The Maine CDC reported this week that testing volume in the state has more than doubled in recent weeks – from roughly 3,000 to 6,424 during the past week – as the state lab as well as national laboratories run more tests. The Maine CDC expects to have the capacity to analyze an additional 5,000 test samples per week in the coming days as part of a partnership with the Westbrook-based veterinary diagnostic firm Idexx.
Maine averaged 34 additional cases per day over the seven-day period ending Thursday, which is the same as the previous seven-day period ending last Thursday. The 14-day average rose from 21 new cases per day during the two-week period ending April 30 to 34 per day for the two weeks ending Thursday.
“We might be at a level where we are talking less and less about a surge but rather a plateau,” Shah said. “A high plateau, to be sure. A plateau doesn’t mean that things are getting better, but that things are staying the same at a rate that might not be very desirable to us.”
This story will be updated.