By Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2020

MILLINOCKET, Maine (AP) - Two dozen Maine residents tested positive for the coronavirus after a wedding reception in Millinocket - the state’s first outbreak linked to a social gathering, officials said Monday.

Eighteen people who attended the Aug. 7 reception and six others who had close contact with attendees subsequently tested positive, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control.

All told, about 65 people attended the indoor event at the Big Moose Inn, said Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long.

The governor’s executive orders put in place during the global pandemic limit indoor gatherings to 50 people if there’s adequate space, while 100 people are allowed at outdoor events. Attendees should also follow physical distancing guidelines and wear masks while not eating.

The Maine CDC was communicating with Big Moose Inn about the nature of the event and adherence to state requirements. A telephone message was left at the inn on Monday afternoon.

Millinocket Town Manager John Davis said Monday that he didn’t have all the details about the outbreak, but said there was enough concern to close town hall and local schools as a precaution.

“We didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.

It was the first outbreak tied to a specific social event in Maine, where most previous outbreaks have been tied to workplaces or congregant care settings, Long said Monday.

It’s unclear if the owner of the Big Moose Inn could be cited if it’s confirmed there were too many people at the reception. The governor’s executive orders allow for a fine of up to $10,000, the governor’s spokeswoman said.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, planned to address the outbreak during a regular briefing on Tuesday.

In Maine, nearly 4,200 people have contracted the virus, including 29 additional cases reported on Monday. The number of deaths remained unchanged at 127 on Monday, the Maine CDC said.

For most people, the 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 and death.

In other coronavirus-related news:



Maine’s community banks are getting credit for swiftly funneling aid to businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program.

While national banks prioritized large businesses, Maine banks helped small businesses stabilize businesses and the economy with hundreds of millions of dollars of forgivable loans, the Portland Press Herald reported.

More than 46% of Paycheck Protection Program loans over $150,000 were made by just six locally owned banks, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

National banks were far less active in PPP lending in Maine. The top 10 national PPP lenders, including TD Bank, KeyBank, Bank of America and Chase Bank, provided just 13% of loans under $150,000, and about 17% of larger loans in the state.

To date, about 28,300 loans worth more than $2.2 billion have been made to Maine employers. The vast majority of loans are under $150,000.

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