CDC Director asks for "kindness, humanity, and compassion" as number of positive cases of COVID-19 rises

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) Dr. Nirav Shah, the Director of the Maine CDC, briefed media Thursday morning from Augusta about the current situation of coronavirus cases here in the state.

Health officials acknowledge that social distancing for such a long time is not easy, but they are thanking Mainers for their diligent effort to help prevent the spread of this pandemic illness.

Dr. Shah said "The things that seemed utterly improbable a month ago now seem commonplace."

While the number of Mainers who have been diagnosed as having coronavirus is still rising, the number of those recovered is also growing.

The Maine CDC lists 155 positive cases with 16 people who have recovered from the virus.

Thursday's number of positive cases is an increase of 13 cases since Wednesday's briefing.

16 healthcare workers are among those who have tested positive.

Maine CDC has received 3,433 consults from providers around the state.

Here is a breakdown of cases by county:
Androscoggin: 5
Cumberland: 90
Franklin: 1
Kennebec: 6
Knox: 1
Lincoln: 5
Oxford: 8
Penobscot: 5
Sagadahoc: 4
Waldo: 2
York: 27

Community transmission is now confirmed in both Cumberland and York counties.

22 of the 155 individuals who have tested positive are currently hospitalized.

Around the state, 86 ICU beds are available and about 250 ventilators that are not being used and are available if patient conditions decline to the point where those are needed.

Dr. Shah says there are 88 respiratory therapists in Maine. Those providers have specialized training that is critical for the operation of ventilators.

Dr. Shah discussed that a critical piece of equipment that will help with testing is on backorder, and the state is not yet able to purchase it due to that status.

Dr. Shah says he is pushing the company to get it faster due to the circumstances.

"We will get through this and we will do so partly because our approach is informed not just by science but by kindness, humanity, and compassion. We can and must remain together even though for now we may be apart."

When it comes to numbers, Mainers who have contracted the illness range in age- there is a case of a child under the age of 10 and a case of someone who is older than 90 years old.

That said, the average age of those who have tested positive is 55 years old.

51% of those who have become ill are female, while 49% are male.

Some Mainers have a concern that there may soon be a shortage of prescription medications, and Dr. Shah said there is not a widespread shortage at this time, but it is being monitored closely.

"Some of the concern that motivates that shortage, or potential shortage, is the fact that some of those source supplies themselves may be coming from parts of the world that are themselves grappling with COVID-19," said Shah. "Initially the concern was with China, but now the concern is with other parts of the world."

He urges all Mainers need to prepare, having on hand an adequate supply of any medications needed by your family.

He says now is the time, even if you don't see a recorded case in your county- the virus is here and everyone needs to act accordingly.