PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Localized data about the coronavirus outbreak show that Maine's cities have seen higher rates of infection than rural areas, according to data released by the state.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention released the data for 55 of the state's 400 ZIP codes on Wednesday, the Portland Press Herald reported. The state said it released limited data to protect patient privacy.
Lewiston had the most cases of any ZIP code in the state at 203. One of Portland's ZIP codes had the highest rate of the infection, with one for every 110 people. Even though cities were affected most, some rural areas, including the town of Medway, were also hard hit.
Maine is the last state in New England to release local data about the virus. It had previously only made county-level information available. Maine CDC director Nirav Shah said it's important for residents to behave as if the virus is in their community even if it isn't.
“Even though your ZIP code might not have any cases in it right now, that shouldn’t impact how live your life," Shah said.
There have been more than 2,400 cases of the virus recorded in Maine. The state reported 28 new cases and no new deaths on Thursday. For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.
In other news related to the virus:
The administration of Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, said Thursday that 13 counties in the state will be allowed to open more businesses on June 12. The reopening applies to businesses such as gyms, fitness centers and tattoo parlors. The businesses were originally slated to reopen July 1.
The rule change doesn't apply to York, Cumberland and Androscoggin counties, which are home to areas that have been harder hit by the virus.
Higher education leaders in Maine released a framework for reopening the state's colleges and universities on Thursday that prioritizes on-campus learning in the fall.
The state will give “the strongest consideration to make in-person, on-campus experiences available in Maine institutions as widely as possible for the fall 2020 term” and beyond, according to the guidelines. They also state that higher education leaders in Maine will let science and data inform the reopening.
Colleges and universities in Maine are also urged stay in consultation as institutions begin to open. It's intended to serve as a guide for decision making by the institutions.
The Maine Department of Labor said it recorded about 11,000 initial claims for state unemployment insurance for the week ending May 30. There were another 13,500 initial claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
The department said it's continuing to investigate unemployment impostor fraud. The department said Maine is “is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.”
The labor department said it canceled more than 12,000 initial claims for unemployment that were suspected to be fraudulent during the week that ended May 30.