Jul. 2—The average number of new daily cases of COVID-19 in Franklin County over the past week remains higher than the state average, even as case numbers in Maine are declining.
As of Friday, Franklin County saw an average of 0.62 new cases of COVID-19 per 10,000 residents over the past seven days while statewide the seven-day average of new daily cases was 0.16 per 10,000 residents.
Androscoggin and Oxford counties' seven-day averages of new daily cases are greater than the statewide average, at 0.27 cases and 0.20 cases, respectively, but are still a decline from one week ago. Meanwhile, Franklin County saw about a 114% increase in the seven-day average per capita from one week ago.
There was an 11% decrease in the seven-day average of new daily cases per capita across the state as of Friday. The last time Franklin County's numbers dipped below the state average of new daily cases per capita was June 4.
Residents of that county who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, or those 12 years and older, are also among some of the least vaccinated in the state. While 63.1% of all eligible Maine people have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, just 50.9% of eligible Franklin County residents have gotten their shot, with Washington and Somerset the only counties with a smaller rate.
Statewide, 66.6% of all eligible Maine people are fully vaccinated. Franklin County ranks 14 out of the state's 16 counties for fully vaccinated residents, at 56.2%.
Earlier this week, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah warned that the delta variant, a highly contagious strain of COVID-19, poses a risk to unvaccinated pockets of the state.
There are four identified cases of the delta variant in Maine as of the latest round of testing by the Maine CDC.
Shah said that as the number of new cases and new vaccinations dwindle across the state, his team's focus will be on reaching those who are unvaccinated "by chance, or increasingly, by choice."
A report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published last month said individuals ages 18 to 29 were the least vaccinated in the country, with just 38% fully inoculated, as opposed to the most vaccinated age group — individuals 65 years and older — 80% of whom are vaccinated.
In Franklin County, 32.3% of residents ages 16 to 19 are fully vaccinated, the lowest rate in the state. Statewide, nearly 50% have completed their inoculations.
During the surge of new cases this past spring, Shah and health care providers across the state said that hospitalizations among young people — ages 50 and younger — were on the rise and that those individuals were much sicker than the patients they saw before.
For those who are vaccinated, the delta variant "will not necessarily change the way that they've gone about things," Shah said at the news conference Wednesday. "But for those in Maine who have not yet been vaccinated, the delta variant has the potential to spread, particularly in large pockets of unvaccinated places in Maine — certain counties where vaccination rates are lower than they are elsewhere."
ZIP code-level data from the Maine CDC on vaccination rates shows that four of Franklin County's 13 towns are either less than 60% vaccinated or have more than 2,000 residents who are not vaccinated.
Those towns are Eustis, Farmington, Phillips and Wilton.
Gov. Janet Mills at the same news conference said vaccinations are "the best way to protect your health and that of your loved ones."
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