Maine will delay the reopening of gyms, fitness centers and nail salons beyond June 1, but will allow campgrounds to reopen for Maine residents this weekend, Gov. Janet Mills announced Tuesday.
The adjustments to Maine’s reopening plan comes as the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 28 new coronavirus cases and two additional deaths.
The total number of new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Maine climbed to 1,741, although the tally of Mainers with “active” cases of the disease decreased slightly from Monday, according to the latest figures from the Maine CDC.
To date, at least 73 individuals have died after contracting the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus. After accounting for those 73 deaths and the 1,088 people who have recovered from the disease, Maine CDC was reporting 580 active cases in the state. That is a decrease of nine cases from Monday.
Looking back over the past week, Maine has averaged 558 active cases of COVID-19 per day. By comparison, Maine was averaging 486 active cases daily during the previous seven-day period ending on May 12, showing the number of new cases continues to outpace recoveries or deaths, although health officials say expanded testing is also a major factor in the discovery of new cases.
The adjustments to Maine’s reopening plan announced Tuesday mean that campgrounds, including RV parks, may now reopen with safety precautions to Maine residents only beginning on Friday. They had previously been scheduled to reopen June 1.
On the other hand, the state is delaying the full reopening of gyms and fitness centers, originally scheduled for June 1, to a yet-to-be-determined date. Mills said in a written statement that new studies have raised concerns about the transmission of the virus in such settings, with large numbers of people, relatively small spaces, elevated humidity and intense physical exercise that can spread the virus greater distances.
Mills said the state also is delaying the re-opening of nail salons from June 1 to an unspecified date, after California identified such establishments as a source of COVID-19 community transmission.
Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, is expected to address the latest cases and deaths as well as provide an update on the state’s expanding testing capacity during his daily briefing at 2 p.m. Shah will be joined by Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Heather Johnson.
Shah is also expected to update the public on the status of several potential new outbreaks — including clusters of cases at Bristol Seafood’s processing plant in Portland and at a Portland affordable housing complex —and Maine CDC’s ongoing monitoring of outbreaks at numerous long-term care facilities.
Bristol Seafood planned to keep its plant on the Portland Fish Pier closed again on Tuesday for cleaning and sanitizing after initial test results revealed that five employees had contracted the disease. Test results for all other employees were still pending on Monday afternoon.
Additionally, Maine CDC epidemiologists were investigating reports of cases at the 100 State Street housing complex that caters to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. A representative for HallKeen Management, which manages the complex, said Monday evening that “fewer than 3 percent” of the roughly 215 residents had either tested positive for the virus or been exposed.
Meanwhile, the phased reopening of stores, restaurants and businesses in Maine continues to move forward.
On Monday, restaurants in 12 of Maine’s 16 counties were allowed to resume dine-in service as long as they complied with a checklist of health and safety guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of transmission. Even so, some restaurant owners opted to remain closed or to continue only providing take-out service.
Retail stores were allowed to reopen on May 11 in the 12 counties — Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc — if they also followed health and safety guidelines.
Most retail stores and restaurants in Cumberland, York, Androscoggin and Penobscot counties remain closed to in-store shopping or dining because Maine CDC epidemiologists have documented community transmission in the counties. Those businesses could reopen on June 1, however, under Gov. Janet Mills’ multi-phased plan.
This story will be updated.