Two men shelter Monday, March 30, at a bus stop on nearly deserted Congress Street in downtown Portland, where the city has extended a stay-at-home order to April 27 because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Portland Phoenix/Jim Neuger)
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The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday announced two more Mainers have died from COVID-19 and 303 Mainers have been diagnosed with the coronavirus disease.

The new deaths bring the number of fatalities in the state to five.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said the number of cases increased by 28 from Monday, March 30, and 57 people have been hospitalized. He said 68 people have recovered from the disease.

Shah said 6,088 people have tested negative for the virus.

He said Somerset County, which is just north of Waterville, has also now recorded its first case of the virus and is the 12th of Maine’s 16 counties to record the virus.

The latest fatalities were in Kennebec and York counties, according to the CDC, which did not immediately release additional information. Shah previously said the first three deaths included a woman in her 80s, a man in his 80s, and a man in his 60s, all in Cumberland County. The man in his 60s was an employee of the Maine Department of Transportation who did not return to work after taking a vacation, according to a news release from Gov. Janet Mills. 

Mills has also called for all non-essential businesses in Maine to close during the pandemic.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

Shah has said there is evidence of community transmission in Cumberland and York counties.

The city of Portland has taken stronger measures, issuing a stay-at-home order for all residents through April 27. The city has reopened its India Street Public Health Center, which also provides a needle exchange program, although it remains closed to walk-ins. The clinic had been closed temporarily after an employee there tested positive for the virus.

The Portland Community Free Clinic and STD Clinic will be triaging patients over the phone and offering clinical appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Needle Exchange Program will offer outreach hours Monday-Friday, and limited weekend hours at the corner of Oxford and Elm Streets. 

Forty-three of the state’s 303 positive cases are health-care workers, and Shah on Monday said the state is investigating potential exposure in health-care workplaces. 

A group home in Freeport reported three cases of the virus. Three employees at supermarkets have tested positive, including an employee at the Scarborough Hannaford Supermarket and an employee at the Shaw’s Supermarket on Congress Street in Portland.  The OceanView retirement community in Falmouth now has seven cases. 

Three people at the Mabel I. Wilson Elementary School in Cumberland have also tested positive, according to the Portland Press Herald. One is a staff member at the school, and Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Porter said he couldn’t rule out the possibility this person transmitted the virus to others while the school was open. 

Another staffer and a student had previously tested positive for the virus.

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