Maine reported three additional deaths and 52 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
Meanwhile, 45 more people have recovered from the disease. Cumulatively, there have been 2,189 COVID-19 cases in Maine since the pandemic began, and 84 deaths. Active cases ticked up from 699 on Wednesday to 703 on Thursday.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 stood at 58, a decrease of one since Wednesday. Among hospitalized patients, 22 were in critical care and 14 were on ventilators Thursday to assist their respiration. A day earlier, there were 25 people in critical care and 14 on a ventilator.
Hospitalization rates and death trends are key metrics for tracking the progress of the virus and efforts to contain transmission. Intensive care beds and ventilators are critical tools for treating hospitalized patients, and epidemiologists closely monitor the demand for these resources as they study the spread of the disease.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director, is expected to brief the media at 2 p.m.
On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced a postponement of indoor dining at restaurants in three counties – Cumberland, York and Androscoggin, where COVID-19 has been most prevalent in the state. Indoor dining was slated to return on Monday, with physical distancing restrictions, but Mills, pointing to recent spikes in cases and hospitalizations, decided to restrict restaurants in the three counties to outdoor dining. She did not set a new date for indoor dining to resume.
The rest of the state will be open for indoor dining Monday, and some rural areas have already opened. Some cities and towns, such as Portland, have closed off sections of streets to vehicle traffic to make it easier for restaurants to open outdoor seating.
Some restaurant owners slammed Mills, saying she pulled the rug out from them at the last minute, after they had made preparations to open on Monday.
“We had food and beverage delivered to each location this morning for thousands of dollars,” said Joe Christopher, owner of Three Dollar Deweys in Portland and Saltwater Grille in South Portland. “That money is gone. It’s totally irresponsible.”
Mills defended the decision, noting the dangers of indoor transmission of the virus compared to the less likely transmission outdoors.
“We believe this change is safer for the health of Maine people,” Mills said at Wednesday’s news briefing. “It balances the economic needs of these businesses with the priority of the health of Maine people.”
In other developments, drive-through testing for COVID-19 will be offered at four CVS pharmacies in Maine starting Friday.
The company said it will be able to conduct up to 50 tests a day at each location. Customers will be given supervised self-swab tests at pharmacy drive-through windows in Portland, South Portland, Biddeford and Augusta stores, the pharmacy chain said.
Also on Wednesday, Milestone Recovery substance use treatment center in Portland reported five cases of COVID-19, two clients and three staff members. The Maine CDC is investigating.
This story will be updated.