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Apr. 10—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 312 cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths, the fourth straight day of new case counts over 300 as infection ramps up among young people.
Though more than 37 percent of Mainers have now received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Maine CDC statistics, the unvaccinated population is disproportionately young. And that's where the virus is spreading. On Friday, people under 30 accounted for 45 percent of a whopping 438 new cases.
Maine's cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 53,745 on Saturday. Of those, 40,773 have been confirmed by testing and 12,972 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of new daily cases was 333.8 on Saturday.
Seven hundred fifty people have died with COVID-19 since the pandemic began in Maine.
Maine health officials opened vaccine eligibility to all residents over 16 this past week, thanks to greatly increased supplies of vaccine.
"It was a big week for COVID-19 vaccines in Maine," said Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, in a tweet on Saturday. "Over the past seven days, we administered 113,260 doses statewide. That's fantastic."
According to the Bloomberg News vaccine tracker, Maine is the fourth-quickest state in the country to get "shots into arms" of people, behind New Hampshire, New Mexico and Connecticut.
It might be more difficult to find an appointment this coming week, however. Demand is higher, but the state also expects to receive a much smaller allocation of doses in the new week, especially of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Clinics at the Augusta Fire Department and Noble High School were canceled this weekend, and several hundred appointments were canceled, after organizers were informed they wouldn't receive the doses they were expecting.
As of Saturday, 502,645 Mainers had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 367,746 had received their final dose. Out of Maine's population of 1.3 million, 37.39 percent have received their first dose, according to Maine CDC statistics.
The vaccination rate across the state has soared as supplies and eligibility expand. On April 3, 33.65 percent of Mainers had received a first dose — meaning that this past week roughly 4 percent of the state population got their first shot.
It's difficult to say at what point vaccination rates would start driving down cases, because the new variants are more transmissible and, in Maine at least, the relatively lower rates of infection compared to most of the country mean a smaller percentage of the state has natural immunity. Public health experts have said that immunity from vaccines combined with people who have already been infected with the virus will eventually tamp down cases of COVID-19. But people who have fallen ill with COVID-19 should still get vaccinated, they say.
The Navajo Nation in the southwestern United States drove cases down to zero in late March after 57 percent of the population had received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, although cases have crept up again recently. The Navajo Nation's population is about 300,000 and was averaging about 235 cases per day — on a seven-day average — in early January. Cases now average about 12-15 per day on a seven-day average.
Maine's peak so far was about 600 cases per day, on a seven-day average in mid-January.
County by county as of Saturday, there had been 5,822 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 1,467 in Aroostook, 14,633 in Cumberland, 1,043 in Franklin, 1,126 in Hancock, 4,673 in Kennebec, 846 in Knox, 706 in Lincoln, 2,728 in Oxford, 4,836 in Penobscot, 398 in Piscataquis, 1,075 in Sagadahoc, 1,521 in Somerset, 738 in Waldo, 793 in Washington and 11,339 in York.
By age, 16.7 percent of patients were under 20, while 18.4 percent were in their 20s, 14.3 percent were in their 30s, 13.3 percent were in their 40s, 15.2 percent were in their 50s, 11.2 percent were in their 60s, 6 percent were in their 70s, and 4.9 percent were 80 or older.
Cumberland County had the most new cases over the past week, with 486, followed by York's 450 and Androscoggin's 405.
Of the 68 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Saturday, 28 were in intensive care and 12 were on ventilators. The state had 86 intensive care unit beds available of a total 376, and 238 ventilators available of 319. There were also 446 alternative ventilators.
Around the world late Saturday afternoon, there were over 134.7 million known cases of COVID-19 and 2.9 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 31 million cases and 561,074 deaths.
Press Herald Staff Writer Joe Lawlor contributed to this report.