COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations remain high as surge continues in Maine

·4 min read

Oct. 2—The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday reported 741 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths, another high number of infections as the nation surpassed 700,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus.

Maine reached a grim milestone of 1,000 deaths last month. For the past few weeks, a surge in cases has overloaded the Maine CDC, resulting in a backlog of test results that mean each day's COVID-19 numbers reflect cases reported over the previous few days. Hospitalizations remained high, with 204 patients around the state on Saturday, a decline of seven from the day before.

Maine's cumulative COVID-19 cases rose to 91,468 on Saturday. Of those, 65,294 have been confirmed by testing and 26,174 are considered probable cases of COVID-19. The new data raised the seven-day average for new cases to 611.3 and the 14-day average to 539.9.

One thousand twenty-six people have died with COVID-19 in Maine since the pandemic began. Information about the people reported Saturday to have died wasn't immediately available from the Maine CDC.

Despite the number of deaths, the delta variant surge appears to be slowing down across the U.S. More people may be getting vaccinated and using precautions such as masks, experts say, but the virus may also have gone through enough of the vulnerable unvaccinated population in some places that it is running out of easy targets.

The number of people hospitalized nationally with COVID-19 has fallen to about 75,000 from 93,000 in early September.

In contrast to the overall picture of high case rates and hospitalizations, Maine's colleges have been reporting few to no cases. Campuses have mandated vaccination for students, faculty and staff, along with testing and mask-wearing — a strategy that has brought results even amid what's perhaps the worst surge yet in Maine.

Across the entire University of Maine System on Thursday, there were only 51 active cases among more than 30,000 students and staff. That's a positive test rate of 1.5 percent compared to the statewide 4.5 percent.

By Saturday morning, Maine had given 876,112 people the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Among people 12 and older, the population currently eligible for vaccination, 73.98 percent are now fully vaccinated.

Maine as of Friday had recorded 4,167 "breakthrough" cases, which occur when a fully vaccinated person contracts COVID-19. Unvaccinated people still account for the vast majority of cases, and are also much likelier to have more serious cases if they do catch the disease. By comparison, there have been 55,489 total cases since COVID-19 vaccines became available to Mainers.

Also this past week, the Cumberland County Jail went into lockdown and a state of emergency was declared as COVID-19 swept through inmates and staff. Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce told county commissioners on Wednesday that 13 staff members and 10 inmates had the disease. No inmates are being transferred out of the Portland facility, and all new inmates are being sent to the York County Jail in Alfred and Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

County by county as of Saturday, there had been 9,796 coronavirus cases in Androscoggin, 3,360 in Aroostook, 20,323 in Cumberland, 1,888 in Franklin, 2,342 in Hancock, 8,626 in Kennebec, 1,673 in Knox, 1,607 in Lincoln, 4,501 in Oxford, 10,680 in Penobscot, 1,159 in Piscataquis, 1,771 in Sagadahoc, 3,657 in Somerset, 2,094 in Waldo, 1,477 in Washington and 16,511 in York.

By age, 20.4 percent of patients were under 20, while 18 percent were in their 20s, 15.3 percent were in their 30s, 13.2 percent were in their 40s, 13.7 percent were in their 50s, 9.9 percent were in their 60s, 5.4 percent were in their 70s, and 4.1 percent were 80 or older.

Of the 204 patients with COVID-19 in Maine hospitals on Saturday, 63 were in intensive care and 29 were on ventilators. The state had 42 intensive care unit beds available of a total 331, and 195 ventilators available of 303.

Around the world on Saturday evening, there were 234.5 million known cases of COVID-19 and 4.79 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States had 43.6 million cases and 700,775 deaths.

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