AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Center for Disease Control is set to begin distributing more than 22,000 pieces of protective equipment to health care facilities across the state, an official said Sunday.

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shaw said the equipment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency includes approximately 2,400 N95 masks, 8,000 surgical masks, 2,000 face shields and approximately 6,000 gloves. It will be distributed starting Monday.

The release of the supplies came after Democratic Gov. Janet Mills sent a letter to federal officials asking for equipment to help health care providers respond to the expanding outbreak of COVID-19.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. 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.

POSITIVE CASES

Shaw said the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the state jumped by almost 20 to a total of just under 90. Of those, eight individuals are hospitalized.

Most of the cases in Maine are in Cumberland County, which includes the state's largest city Portland, where officials are seeing evidence of community transmission. But cases are being reported in Maine's less-populous counties as well.

“We do anticipate there being further cases of COVID-19 across the state, into new counties as well as increasing rates of cases in existing counties,” Shaw said.

He urged people who live in parts of Maine that haven't seen COVID-19 cases yet to prepare.

ELVER SEASON

Concerns over social distancing promoted Maine to postpone the start of its season for commercial baby eel fishing by at least two weeks, officials said.

The season for baby eels, called elvers, was scheduled to begin Sunday. It's one of the most lucrative fisheries in the state. The baby eels are used as seed stock by Asian aquaculture companies and can fetch more than $2,000 per pound at the docks.

Maine Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher said Friday the nature of the elver fishery makes it “impossible to follow social distancing recommendations,” such as maintaining 6 feet of distance from other people.

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