The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that the number of Maine residents with COVID-19 has increased to 118.

One Knox County resident, one Waldo County resident, and five Lincoln County residents are confirmed as having the virus.

That Waldo County case is a nurse who works at Waldo County General Hospital.

The nurse is self-isolated at home, the hospital stated in a statement issued Tuesday, March 24. All patients who came in contact with the nurse have been notified, and the hospital is following U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines with respect to tracing her contacts within the hospital.

“Waldo County General Hospital is committed to the health and well being of our team members and those who rely on us for care,” said Dr. Mark Fourre president of Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital. “We have spoken with our colleagues who work with this team member and are actively tracing patient and care team member interactions per CDC guidelines. We continue to take a high level of precaution, guided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to protect our workforce and our patients.”

Fourre noted that, as the numbers of cases grow in Maine, it’s anticipated that additional COVID-19 cases in the community will follow.

“Our top priorities will continue to be the well being of every care team member and the health of our communities,” he said.

Most cases of COVID-19 infection bring flu-like symptoms that are mild to moderate and can be treated at home, though in a percentage of cases, mostly involving older people or those with underlying health conditions, it can be serious. Patients concerned they may have contracted COVID-19 are urged to call ahead before presenting at a doctor’s office, clinic or an emergency department.

The 118 statewide case list on Tuesday is up from 107 cases on Monday, 89 on Sunday, 70 on Saturday and 56 on Friday.

Of the testing done, 3,014 people have tested negative for COVID-19 as of Tuesday, March 24. Seven patients have also recovered, according to the CDC on Tuesday.

Fifteen people have been hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday.

There are 79 Cumberland County residents with the virus and 16 York County residents.

The state statistics also show that people in their 60s account for the largest age group with the virus. There are 25 people in their 60s with the virus, 23 in their 50s, 18 in their 40s, 17 in their 70s, 14 in their 20s, 10 in their 80s, nine in their 30s, and two younger than 20.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, pointed out  Monday that the 89 cases reported in Maine on Sunday, March 22 was the same number as the total cases confirmed in the entire United States on March 1. There are now more than 35,000 cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

Dr. Shah was not offering that information to project that Maine will have 35,000 cases in three weeks but to stress how contagious the virus is and how easily it can be spread.

Dr. Shah urged people to live their lives as though COVID-19 was in their community by adhering to physical distancing, washing hands, staying home from work if ill, and coughing into your sleeve.

The CDC director said while there has been recommendation from the U.S. CDC, his recommendation would be for anyone who has come to Maine from another part of the country where there are high numbers of COVID-19 and are not feeling well, to stay indoors.

Dr. Shah responded Sunday afternoon March 22 during a telephone news conference about whether this method of classifying cases would give a false impression of the extent of the virus in Knox County because of the number of seasonal residents here.

Dr. Shah said the numbers could give a false sense of security for particular regions of the state.

"But no one should be waiting to see if there are cases in their county or focus on the numbers in their counties," Dr. Shah said. "Assume for everyone that COVID-19 is in their community and enact the steps recommended — physical distancing and stocking up on supplies and medications."

He said the CDC was distributing 22,000 pieces of protective equipment for health care workers and first responders on Monday March 23. This includes 2,400 N95 masks, 8,000 surgical masks, and 2,000 face shields.

The CDC director stressed, however, that more supplies are needed from the federal government and that this distribution will only be a start to what is needed.

The state CDC has acknowledged that it classifies cases based on the permanent state of residence of the patient so if people from another state come to their seasonal homes in Maine and are diagnosed there, they will not show up on the state statistics.

There was one person — a 35-year-old man — who was listed March 17 as having COVID-19 in Knox County. He was removed from the list March 18 because his permanent residence is out-of-state.

"If Knox County residents are at elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19, the Maine CDC will issue an alert. Right now, following the guidance put forth by Governor Mills and the Maine CDC is the best way for Knox County residents to reduce their risk and limit potential spread of the virus," CDC spokesman Robert Long stated March 18.

"To avoid double counting, the individuals are being listed in the states where their primary residences are located. But the patients have not been moved. The individuals, including one who was originally listed as a Knox County resident but who was then reclassified as a resident of another state, are still being cared for here," he said.

Knox County has a greater percentage of seasonal residences than the state average. According to the 2010 Census, 16 percent of housing units in Maine were seasonally occupied. In Knox County, the percentage is slightly more than 20 percent..

On North Haven, for example, 65 percent of residences are seasonal, according to the 2010 Census. The North Haven Select Board voted March 15 to prohibit non-residents from coming to the island. St. George has the most seasonal homes at 762 which is about 34 percent of all residences in the town.

Dr. Shah was asked during the March 19 media briefing about people from out-of-state who come to Maine. He said he has been in Maine for nine months and found it the most welcoming place he has been. He said he hopes it remains that way.

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