Maine reports 41 new cases of COVID-19, one additional death

Maine reported 41 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and one additional death.

When subtracting cases from previous days that were probable but later tested negative, the net number of new cases on Friday was 29.

Maine’s virus prevalence is second-lowest in the country, at 2.3 cases per 100,000 people on a seven-day average, with Vermont the lowest at 1.5 cases per 100,000, according to the Harvard Global Health Institute. But other New England states are seeing a significant increase.

In the past two weeks, the seven-day average of cases has surged by 112 percent in New Hampshire, doubled in Connecticut, and increased by 70 percent in Rhode Island and 25 percent in Massachusetts. Other states have been hit far worse in recent weeks, especially the Upper Midwest, interior West and parts of the South.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, said in a Thursday conference call with reporters that as the virus prevalence increases in nearby states, the odds rise that Mainers visiting friends and family in other states will bring COVID-19 back to Maine.

“We are concerned less about tourism than individuals from Maine traveling, going to see friends and family in nearby places and inadvertently picking up the virus,” Shah said. “We are not disconnected from the rest of the country.”

Thirteen states – including Kansas, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Montana – are seeing uncontrolled exponential growth of COVID-19, with case counts of 25 per 100,000 or more, according to the Harvard institute. The states with the worst levels of virus prevalence, South Dakota and North Dakota, have more than 72 cases per 100,000.

Maine state officials are meeting on Friday to discuss winter high school sports during the pandemic.

Mike Burnham, executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, said they will meet with representatives from the office of Gov. Janet Mills, the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Maine School Superintendents Association, the Maine School Board Association and the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

The conversation will likely focus on when it will be safe to return to play in the winter during the coronavirus pandemic. Burnham said all sports will follow the “return to play” guidelines that were established between the MPA and state officials in the fall.

This story will be updated.

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