Maine reported 49 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and no additional deaths.
After subtracting previously-reported positive cases that later turned out to be negative, there was a net increase of 35 cases on Thursday. This can occur because the overall case count includes “probable” cases, but sometimes those who are considered likely to have COVID-19 subsequently test negative.
Thursday’s totals include 13 new cases in Cumberland County, 12 in York County, eight in Kennebec County and seven in Androscroggin County. Since the pandemic began, there has been 5,639 COVID-19 cases, and 142 deaths.
At Waynflete School in Portland, one person associated with the school has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Geoff Wagg, head of school.
“We are closing the school at noon today (October 8) out of an abundance of caution while we conduct contact tracing and deep cleaning in areas accessed by this individual,” Wagg said in an email response to questions.
York County has been the hotspot for COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, with 17 outbreaks.
Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, will be briefing the media at 2 p.m. today. He will be joined by Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State, to discuss COVID-19 prevention measures being taken to help protect voters and poll workers during the Nov. 3 election.
On Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced that Maine would be moving into “Phase Four” which primarily means that bars and tasting rooms will reopen on Nov. 2, while allowing additional capacity for restaurants and other indoor gatherings starting Oct. 13.
The new rules will allow those places to expand to 50 percent of capacity, or 100 people, whichever is lower. The current indoor limit is 50 people.
Bars will be expected to function more like restaurants, with strict new limits, including rules designed to limit interactions between groups and to remain masked except when sitting at tables.
However, public health experts warn that bars are among the riskiest indoor spaces to reopen. Nevertheless, most states have allowed bars to reopen, although many have operating restrictions, such as limiting capacity.
This story will be updated.