WATCH LIVE 2 PM: Maine CDC holds coronavirus briefing as state sets single-day record with 427 additional cases – NewsCenterMaine.com WCSH-WLBZ

Find developments on the Maine coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak as we work together to separate facts from fear. Monday, December 7, 2020.

MAINE, USA — KEY MAINE CORONAVIRUS FACTS

The Maine CDC reported 427 additional COVID-19 cases, which is the most cases reported in Maine on a single day since the pandemic began.

The Maine CDC did not report any additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state death toll stands at 227 deaths.

Of the 13,775 total COVID-19 cases in Maine, 12,097 are confirmed by tests and 1,678 are probable.

781 Mainers have been hospitalized at some point during their COVID-19 illnesses.

 10,146 Mainers have recovered from COVID-19.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah and Maine DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew will hold a coronavirus briefing on Monday at 2 p.m. NEWS CENTER Maine will stream it live on air, as well as on our website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and mobile app.

Monday Coronavirus Briefing

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, leads the coronavirus briefing on Monday.

Currently, 170 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine–52 of whom are in the ICU, and 17 of whom are on a ventilator. 

The Maine CDC has opened one new outbreak investigation on Monday, one on Sunday, and nine on Saturday.

The outbreak opened Monday was at the Flood Brothers Farm in Clinton where they are aware of 13 cases. 

On Sunday, an investigation was opened at Lake View Terrace, an assisted living facility in Lincoln, where there are 13 cases. 

Investigations opened on Saturday:

  • The Baker Company in Sanford: Three cases
  • Dirigo Middle School  
  • Fruit Street School
  • Ranger Memorial School
  • Nichols in Portland
  • Noble High School
  • Washburn Dowdy Shipbuilding firm
  • York High School (reopened): Eight cases

Maine’s seven-day PCR test positivity rate is 4.7 percent; the seven-day antigen test positivity rate is 4.5 percent. 

The Maine CDC is making changes to the way they investigate COVID-19, Shah said. In recent weeks, Maine has experienced significant increases in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. 

  • The seven-day moving average of new cases in Maine now stands at 291. Just one week ago, it was 168. That’s a 73 percent increase just in one week, Shah explains. 
  • Right now, there are 170 people in the hospital. One week ago, it was 139–a 22 percent increase in hospitalizations just in the past seven days.
  • A week ago, the positivity rate was about 3.95 percent; today it’s 4.7 percent. 
  • Shah says just in the past seven days, 33 people have died with COVID-19. 

Shah says the Maine CDC has been preparing for this increase for weeks by redeploying internal staff, bringing on members of the National Guard, worked with DHHS to bring on additional staff to assist, as well as hiring staff. 

“We are not slowing down with any of those processes at all,” Shah said. “But sadly, we were already experiencing a surge of cases, and last week, things accelerated even more and we began experiencing a surge on top of a surge.”

Over the past two days, Shah says the Maine CDC has identified two interrelated concerns: the rapidly growing number of lab reports that they must review every day and the need to assign them for investigation to ensure the focus is on the highest risk, most vulnerable individuals. 

Shah explains that each and every positive test result is reported to the Maine CDC, and is then reviewed by someone. That someone has to review whether it’s a new case of COVID-19, or an existing person who has been logged in the system. He says they need to make sure when they’re getting a lab result that they’re not duplicating cases. 

They also need to make sure the test results themselves are not duplicates, because Maine is what is called a dual reporting state, meaning the Maine CDC often gets two versions of the same lab report–one might come from the lab and another might come from the person’s doctor. 

Every one of the lab reports the Maine CDC gets has to go through a process to ensure it’s not a duplicate. 

“All of that requires a thorough review to ensure that when we have a case, it is a new case, not an existing case,” Shah says. “Accuracy matters in this process, because what’s at stake is an accurate daily case count.”

Shah says in recent days, the Maine CDC has developed a gap–the number of new lab reports that have been coming into the Maine CDC has been exceeding their ability to do that review process on a daily basis. For example, on Friday alone, the Maine CDC received 650 reports. 

“We foresaw that this increase was coming and we believed we could keep up with it,” Shah said. “But the surge on top of the surge that we saw last week challenged that process.”

This is not a backlog at the CDC lab, Shah says. The number of cases they still have to review does not affect things like positivity rate or the number of people in the hospital. All the same, the Maine CDC faced this issue, and knew they needed to make some changes. 

Another concern that arose was what the Maine CDC does with those cases after they are confirmed as new cases of COVID-19. 

With a focus of preserving the ability to address the needs of highest-risk individuals in Maine as well as those who they care for or who care for them, “these discussions and decisions were extremely difficult and they were unpalatable, but they were also necessary in these times of an unprecedented surge.”

The sustained increase in new cases and new lab reports has outpaced Maine CDC’s ability to continue the approach that has taken us where we are right now, Shah says. As a result, they have had to make changes to the way the Maine CDC goes about investigating changes. 

Until now, every person who tested positive received a case investigation from the Maine CDC. But in light of the increasing number of new cases, Maine CDC is announcing the following changes to the Maine CDC case investigation protocol. 

The Maine CDC will continue to conduct case investigations within the following groups: those who are 18 and younger, 65 and older, health care workers or first responders, people who are hospitalized, people who are identified as being part of a demographic that has had a higher burden of disease in Maine, people who have a disability, people who are living or working in congregate living settings, and individuals associated with schools or child care facilities. 

Individuals who fall outside of those groups may not receive a full case investigation. However, they will continue to receive notifications, as well as offers of assistance and support from Maine DHHS. 

Maine DHHS is creating a new service for individuals who do not fall into the categories Shah mentioned.

RELATED: Maine DHHS redeploys team of call center staff to support people who test positive for COVID-19

RESOURCES

Coronavirus, COVID-19 Background

The official name for the coronavirus is “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes is named “coronavirus disease 2019” or “COVID-19” for short. Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which can infect people and animals. The viruses can cause the common cold or more serious diseases like SARS, MERS, and COVID-19.

The CDC says symptoms of the coronavirus include fever, cough, difficulty breathing, and in some cases sore throat.

The CDC says there are simple steps to take to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19:

NEWS CENTER Maine YouTube COVID-19 Playlist