Governor Janet Mills has declared a state of civil emergency as more Mainers test positive for COVID-19.

As of Tuesday, March 17, there are 23 confirmed cases and nine "presumptive positive" tests of coronavirus in Maine, according to state officials. Three people are being hospitalized. There have been 1,303 negative tests.

"Presumptive positive" tests from local labs must be confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The cases thus far are centered mostly in southern Maine, with the majority in Cumberland County.

"These numbers are likely to increase,'" Gov. Janet Mills said at a news conference Sunday, noting the wide age range of those affected. "Let's be real."

On Sunday night, Mills declared a state of civil emergency, but stopped short of mandating public schools to end classroom instruction. She did urge schools to stop classroom instruction as soon as feasibly possible. Many schools already have ended instruction.

She said that "proclaiming a state of civil emergency unleashes critical state authorities and allows access to federal funds that will support our response efforts to delay and mitigate the outbreak in Maine. These new recommendations will also further protect Maine people."

The governor also issued the following recommendations:

  • Ending classroom instruction in all public schools as soon as reasonably practical.
  • Postponing all non-urgent medical procedures, elective surgeries, and appointments at hospitals and health care providers across the state until further notice.
  • Restricting visitors and all non-essential health care personnel to long-term care facilities except for certain compassionate care situations such as end of life until further notice.
  • Postponing all events with 50 or more people all gatherings of more than 10 that include individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness, such as seniors, until further notice.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused local schools throughout the state and the nation to send students home as well as the cancellation or postponement of many public events, including major sporting events such as the National Basketball Association season, the Major League Baseball season and the NCAA basketball tournament.

For more information on COVID-19, visit the CDC website.

For information on cases in Maine, visit the Maine CDC website.

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