Maine Governor Janet Mills announced Tuesday afternoon that full reopenings of gyms, fitness centers, and nail salons across the state will be delayed “in light of emerging research and experiences in other states" regarding coronavirus transmission at the businesses.
The businesses were slated to reopen on June 1 under Stage 2 of Mills’ four-stage plan to reopen the state’s economy, which has been in place for nearly three weeks.
“It is important that the plan remain flexible and that we take steps to update it when necessary in order to both protect public health and support our economy,” Mills said.
The announcement comes as health officials reported two deaths and 28 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the statewide death toll rises to 73 and case count climbs to 1,741.
Both deaths were reported in Cumberland County, which has reported the highest number of virus-related deaths of the state’s counties with 38, according to the Maine CDC.
Waldo County has reported the second highest number of deaths throughout Maine, with 14, officials said. York and Kennebec counties have each reported eight deaths, followed by Androscoggin with two deaths, and Franklin, Hancock, and Penobscot with one death each.
Health officials cited a recent study published by the Center for Disease Control in South Korea, which showed a high rate of transmission within people who attended fitness dance classes and sports facilities. A total of 112 people contracted the virus from the 12 facilities studied within 24 days.
“When we saw these data, we evaluated them against our current plans, and we’re incorporating the current data,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Instead of shutting the doors, gyms and fitness centers will be allowed to run either outdoor classes of less than 10 participants or “one-on-one engagement” while maintaining physical distancing, according to Jeanne Lambrew, director of the Maine Department of Human and Health Services.
“We have not to date seen that there is a problem with that kind of exercise,” Lambrew said at the press conference. “We want people to get out and exercise.”
Opening dates for the businesses, including nail salons, will be announced in early June, the statement said. Health officials announced the decision to delay nail salon openings after California recognized nail salons as a source of coronavirus transmission.
“As we did today, we expect to both slow down and accelerate different types of activities based on this evidence and trends within Maine to keep our state safe and strong,” Lambrew said.
Campgrounds and RV parks will be allowed to reopen beginning Friday for Memorial Day weekend, state officials said. Only state residents will be allowed to visit the grounds, which were originally slated to reopen June 1 as well.
“We believe allowing private campgrounds to open with strict health and safety precautions to Maine residents minimizes risks while supporting mental and physical health, particularly during the long Memorial Day weekend,” Mills said.
As of Wednesday, 33,035 residents have been tested for the virus, officials said.
Cumberland County, which has reported the highest number of cases in the state with 863, reported 11 new cases, officials said. York has reported the second-highest number of cases with 307, an increase of five since Monday. Androscoggin, which has steadily risen in recent weeks to 151 cases, reported 12 new cases.
Another 35 people have recovered since contracting the virus, bringing the total recoveries to 1,088 people, officials said.
Two more people were hospitalized, with the number of people hospitalized at some point during their illness rising to 225, officials said. Of the total, 44 patients are currently hospitalized, with 19 in critical care and 11 on ventilators.
There are 185 ICU beds and 253 ventilators available for use across the state, officials said.
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