Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN
Words of encouragement hang on the marquee at University Inn Academic Suites on Park Street in Orono, a sign that owner Tracey Whitten describes as a beacon in the community.
As of Saturday, there are now 211 cases of the coronavirus spread across 11 Maine counties, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
That’s up from 268 cases on Friday, making it the largest single day jump in confirmed cases seen in Maine so far during the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, “community transmission” remains isolated to Cumberland and York counties, but that could soon change as the Maine CDC is investigating Penobscot County for evidence of it after cases there doubled, according to Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah.
Here’s the latest on the coronavirus outbreak and its growing impact in Maine.
— Bangor schools have been closed for more than two weeks, and that’s likely going to last longer than school officials have anticipated. Bangor Superintendent Betsy Webb said Saturday that parents should expect classes to be held online for the rest of the school year.
— Fewer inmates remain behind bars at Maine’s county jails as sheriffs and other officials hope the releases will prevent the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, behind bars. Knox County Sheriff Tim Carroll said last week that about 25 percent of the county jail’s inmates have been released. That follows moves within the judicial branch to limit the number of people who end up in local jails. The court system has vacated more than 12,000 warrants for unpaid fines and fees and is seeing newly arrested people every day in order to free up space in the jails. The court system also cut back public hours this week to limit chances of the virus spreading in courthouses, and state and federal courts have suspended jury trials.
— Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said Friday that Maine residents whose vehicle registrations expire during the coronavirus outbreak will see those automatically extended. That will last through the duration of Democratic Gov. Janet Mills civil state of emergency order. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is delaying final implementation of Real ID until October 2021, giving Maine residents more time to acquire a compliant identification, which will be needed for entering secure federal facilities and boarding airplanes for domestic flights.
— The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report that several people with guns cut down a tree and used it to block a driveway Friday afternoon on Vinalhaven in an alleged attempt to quarantine the people who live in the residence.
— The maker of popular Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey, Sazerac Co., is now using its Lewiston factory to churn out hand sanitizer, a commodity in short supply since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. It is one of at least two Maine distillers that are converting part of their operations to produce hand sanitizer. The other is Maine Craft Distilling in Portland.
— As of Saturday, the virus has sickened 103,321 people in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and caused 1,668 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
— Rhode Island on Saturday reported its first two deaths from the coronavirus. Elsewhere in New England, the death toll is 44 in Massachusetts, 33 in Connecticut, 12 in Vermont, two in New Hampshire and one in Maine.